Republicans praise truth one night, bury it the next

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, to an ABC breakfast panel, ahead of GOP vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech, Wednesday.

It is kind of appropriate that Aeschylus’ famous, fifth century, B.C., quote, “In war, truth is the first casualty,” was popularized by a World War I era, American politician. Who knows better than someone who has had to fold falsehoods into the fight for votes in this diverse country, what a nuisance the truth can be?

Last night, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, commentators and rebutting Democrats pointed out lies in many of the speeches, but it was with the faux earnestness of the words presented by the featured speaker, GOP vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI),  that most took exception.

Paul Ryan, Member of the U.S. House o...
Paul Ryan, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have probably read, or heard, by now, how Ryan told the exuberant crowd that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, where, Ryan said, “[a] lot of guys I went to high school with worked… It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.” But Ryan buried the fact that the plant closed in December, 2008, when George W. Bush was still in the White House.

Other obfuscations in Ryan’s speech, according to a USA Today “Fact Check,” include that he:

“•Accused President Obama‘s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare ‘at the expense of the elderly.’ In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law ‘substantially improves’ the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.

“•Accused Obama of doing ‘exactly nothing’ about recommendations of a bipartisan [Simpson-Bowles] deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle.

“•Claimed the American people were ‘cut out’ of stimulus spending. Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers.

“•Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S. Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.”

While it is true that, as the nineteenth century Prussian, Otto von Bismarck, said, “People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election,” Ryan’s ruse goes completely against the RNC keynote speaker’s assurances, just twenty-four hours earlier, that it is the Republican Party’s “duty to tell the American people the truth.”

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), in his address to the convention, Tuesday, banged the drum of “hard truths,” and waved the flag of  “simple truth.” He used the word “truth,” in fact, 20 times in the 30 minute speech, insisting that it was a trust Republicans held sacred and Democrats devalued.

“They believe that the American people don’t want to hear the truth,” he said of President Obama and his party.

“We have a nominee who will tell us the truth and who will lead with conviction,” he promised the crowd. That should have been the first clue that he and his compatriots were using “truth” rather loosely, since that claim, in particular, is a blatant example of political cognitive dissonance, ignoring the fact that his nominee, Gov. Mitt Romney, is notorious, even among the GOP base, for changing his own version of the truth to meet the times, and has the political convictions of a weather vane.

Christie concluded his speech with, “I’m here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.” Now, many see the 42 year-old Ryan as that new era of the Grand Old Party, “the calling of my generation,” as he put it in his acceptance speech. If that is so, then the Republican rising star has decided that the torch of truth Christie is passing him is decidedly too bright for the battlefield of politics, lest it reveal the Romney-Ryan ticket’s actual positions.

Even with the fact checkers and the pundits challenging the facts Ryan and others have presented, so far, at the RNC, the lies are out there, and are likely coming to a campaign ad near you. “The sad fact is,” wrote Joe Rothstein, in an op-ed for E.I.N., a professional political news service, “that in politics, with enough money, enough repetition and a media largely too spineless or clueless to challenge bald face lies, truth becomes a severely disfigured casualty.”

It is up to the media, then, to continue the fight against blind ignorance, put the candid back in candidate, and reveal a campaign’s claim of truth for the illusion it is, rather than allowing the lies to percolate in the public airwaves, until they become the unquenchable fuel of conventional thought. Otherwise, politics becomes like religion, where colorized truth cannot bear the black-and-white of agnosticism, without the skeptic being labeled a RINO, a DINO or a blasphemer.


2 thoughts on “Republicans praise truth one night, bury it the next

  1. Facts are pesky things.

    First, the GM Plant remark:

    The decision to close it was made in 2008, but the plant itself didn’t shutter until the next year, by which time the GM bailout had already passed. MRCTV’s Stephen Gutowski pinpoints its moment of failure at April 23, 2009.

    National Review’s Henry Payne elaborates in more detail:

    His [Obama] liberal media allies were quick to pounce on Ryan’s comments. “GM stopped production at its Janesville, Wisconsin production facility in 2008, when George W. Bush was still president,” barked the Daily Kos, filling in Ryan’s obvious blank (true enough, unfriendly-to-Detroit-truck mpg laws are also the legacy of George “We’re Addicted to Oil” Bush).
    But the Left misses the point. Under Obamanomics, the government picks winners and losers. Obama promised Janesville would be a winner even as his economic policies guaranteed it would always be a loser. Indeed, Obama’s whole 2008 Janesville speech is a sobering road map for the job-killing policies he has put in place as president. -Mythios Holt, The Blaze

    Regarding the Credit Rating Downgrade:

    S&P’s original statement explains its decision to downgrade, quite clearly…

    We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade.

    Our lowering of the rating was prompted by our view on the rising public debt burden and our perception of greater policymaking uncertainty, consistent with our criteria…
    This is S&P essentially saying the downgrade occurred because of four things:

    1) It wasn’t clear until the last possible minute that the debt ceiling would definitely be raised (OK, blame the Tea Party on this one, though I’d also note Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling as a senator and if we give him a pass on that, he ONLY gets a pass because his position was so minority then as to not matter– so he was fringe AND irrelevant);

    2) Washington– constituted by two relatively intransigent political parties– can‘t and won’t get its s**t together to a) cut spending– and especially entitlements and/or b) raise revenue at an adequate level for S&P’s tastes (Democrats and Republicans get equal blame here, as Democrats won’t accept significant cuts to entitlement spending, which S&P calls out by name, and many Republicans won’t accept any tax increases);

    3) The deal cut in order to allow the debt ceiling to be raised sucked and didn’t do enough (again, both parties get blame here); and

    4) Our debt burden is getting too big and setting aside that Democrats and Republicans in Washington haven’t been able to get their shit together to deal with it, S&P thinks they won’t, in the near future, get their s**t together, either (again, both
    parties get blame here).

    In short, no, this isn‘t all the Republicans’ fault.

    Regarding the Stimulus and Jobs:

    Ryan said the following in his speech: “What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn’t just spent and wasted – it was borrowed, spent, and wasted.”

    In response, ThinkProgress cites a study by the CBO saying that the stimulus “created or saved” 3.3 million jobs.

    So is it true?

    Not unless you think the highest possible estimate is always the right one. The CBO estimated that the stimulus could have saved up to 3.3 million jobs. In other words, “creating or saving” 3.3 million jobs is the absolute upper limit on what the stimulus could have done. The lowest estimate is 500,000 jobs created or saved. Both numbers are probably inaccurate, but to accept the 3.3 million jobs number requires an extreme degree of optimism.

    Medicare cuts by Obamacare:

    The Trustees of the Medicare program have released their annual report on the solvency of the program. They calculate that the program is “expected to remain solvent until 2024, the same as last year’s estimate.” But what that headline obfuscates is that Obamacare’s tax increases and spending cuts are counted towards the program’s alleged “deficit-neutrality,” Medicare is to go bankrupt in 2016. And if you listen to Medicare’s own actuary, Richard Foster, the program’s bankruptcy could come even sooner than that. – Avik Roy Forbes April 2012.

    The claim that Obamacare will guarantee coverage for “more than 30 million Americans” is nonsense. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office actually says that Obamacare itself will leave 30 million people uninsured. This means that, at most, Obamacare will grant coverage to 23 million of the more than 50 million people who are presently uninsured, according to the CBO. There’s quite a bit of daylight between that figure and “more than 30 million.” Moreover, these estimates are historically unreliable. The CBO has revised its projects on the fiscal impact of Obamacare multiple times. Not to mention, $109 billion over ten years is a comparatively small number, and should be more than offset by other cuts proposed by Romney and Ryan. -Mythios Holt, The Blaze

    Simpson Bowles:

    Ryan was a part of that commission but due to an impasse regarding entitlement reduction he could not endorse the plan. Yes Obama did do something, open up contact with Boehner but that did not go anywhere. When Obama came up with a budget plan, neither party found the proposal acceptable.


  2. PG, PolitiFact is not an accurate source for truth. For instance they are way wrong on the truth behind the Janesville WI GM plant closing date and misinterpret BHO speech as a candidate at the site in 2008 and actions as the largest share holder at GM.


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