From the New York Times, on Tuesday’s convention speeches:
. . . the Republicans’ parade of truth-twisting, distortions and plain falsehoods arrived on the podium of their national convention on Tuesday. Following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney’s campaign, rarely have so many convention speeches been based on such shaky foundations. . . . Conventions are always full of cheap applause lines and over-the-top attacks, but it was startling to hear how many speakers in Tampa considered it acceptable to make points that had no basis in reality. . . .
We are becoming numb to this kind of thing. Down is up, up is down. But that is a terrible thing. Without honesty (Iraq did not have a role in attacking us on 9/11 even though 70% of the people who voted to reelect George W. Bush were made to believe it did; “by far the vast majority” of candidate Bush’s proposed tax cuts did not go to “people at the bottom of the economic ladder” as he promised they would) voters cannot make informed choices.
And as the Times notes, it’s gotten worse than ever: President Obama has simply not waived the “work” component of welfare to work, but the Republican machine has decided they should just lie — with millions of dollars in TV ads and from the podium of their convention — and say he has. The President did not say, “if we talk about the economy we will lose” — he was quoting the staffer of his opponent — but that was snipped out to make it seem as though he had. The President did not say entrepreneurs didn’t build their businesses, he said they didn’t build the roads and other infrastructure that made their businesses possible (try starting the same business in Somalia, he might have added) — but the Romney team, needing a straw man to attack because the President has in fact an excellent record on small business, simply lies about it.
I cringe when we do this, too, but it’s rare, and not remotely the foundation of our campaign as it is theirs. I can think of only one significant example — that clip we show where Mr. Romney says he likes to be able to fire people (without showing the context “who provide services [poorly]”) — but at least there is some (small) justification: Mr. Romney’s fortune has been made in significant measure by laying off tens of thousands of people, either by adding so much debt out of which to scoop huge fees and dividends that it bankrupts the company or by shipping their jobs overseas. So even if he doesn’t literally enjoy firing people, he’s sure profited mightily from doing it.
Contrast that with the charges against President Obama, who stabilized a collapsing economy, rescued the auto industry, increased by 20% the work requirement of welfare states must incorporate in order to be granted waivers, improved the environment for entrepreneurs and small business people in numerous ways.
(The very same woman who told the Convention how bad Obama is for small business turns out in real life to give small businesspeople a Powerpoint exploding this myth. See it here. “Bidding on government contracts has never been easier,” her first slide leads off.)
FEAR FOR DEMOCRACY
You’re not allow to lie in toothpaste ads. Claim your toothpaste reduces cavities by 38% and you’d better be able to back that up. But political ads? Lying is totally legal. As bad as Citizens United is for democracy — making a mockery of “one man, one vote” by giving billionaires vastly more “votes” than their fellow citizens — what really may doom us is that that ocean of ads they pay for can be complete lies. And largely are.
And it’s not just the superPAC ads that lie. It’s also the ads from the candidate himself. As when candidate Mitt Romney approves the message that Obama is removing the “work” component of welfare to work. Mitt Romney lies every time he approves that message.
Well, he’s telling the truth that “he’s Mitt Romney” and that “he approved this message”; but the message itself is a complete straight-out lie.
Shouldn’t that matter?