Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Among the most notable themes of last week’s Republican National Convention was the GOP’s willingness to stretch the truth. Of course, exaggeration and twisting facts in a campaign are nothing new, but the Republicans exceeded expectations last week.
Speaker after speaker tried to paint President Barack Obama as an abject failure and a “divider” who has polarized the country, ignoring the role their party has played. Over the past four years, the Republicans have been tireless in their efforts to defeat and frustrate the president and his plans, even when it blocked progress in the economic recovery. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Obama’s promises turned into “disappointment and division.”
He and his party can complain about Obama and the Democrats, but it was none other than respected political scientist Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute who fingered the GOP for the bulk of the problems in Washington.
To borrow a line from the convention: They built it.
But the Republicans weren’t about facts nor were they going to take responsibility.
In his acceptance speech, Romney created a hazy fairy tale to cover up his party’s actions.
“Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president,” Romney said. “That president was not the choice of our party, but Americans always come together after elections.”
We must have missed that kumbaya moment when the Republicans turned from a hard-fought campaign and, as the loyal opposition, extended a hand to the president, pledging to find ways to work together for the good of the country.
Romney surely missed it too as he was busy plotting his own presidential run.
Of course, the nation missed it because it didn’t happen. Republicans refused to work with Obama despite his attempts to engage them.
The GOP points out that the Democrats had control of Congress for the first two years of Obama’s term, but Republican lawmakers refused to negotiate or work with the Democrats. In the Senate, the rules give power to the minority party to block legislation and appointees. And Republican lawmakers used all the power they had to effectively disrupt Congress. Remember, it was Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, who said very publicly the ultimate goal for his party was to make Obama a one-term president.
So much for coming together for the good of the country.
The Republicans’ scorched-earth offensive hasn’t let up, particularly since they won control of the House of Representatives and embarked on an all-or-nothing approach intent on vilifying the president.
During the convention, the Republicans pressed on with a laundry list of dubious allegations about the president and his administration. Romney said that “unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class.” As the Associated Press reported, that’s not quite the case. Although some taxes may increase under Obama, he has worked to cut taxes on the middle class. Meanwhile, Romney’s budget plan would allow certain tax cuts to expire, meaning many lower and middle class families would pay more.
But let’s not let the facts get in the way of Romney’s narrative. He claimed the president went on an “apology tour” after being elected, even though that is patently untrue. And he said the president was going to gut the military when it was his own party that not only agreed to the cuts but allowed them to happen by refusing to make a budget deal. Romney should know that — his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, has been a key part of the Republican obstruction in Congress.
And Ryan did a masterful job of dicing the truth in his acceptance speech Wednesday night. For example, he blamed Obama for the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating when it was Republicans in Congress who engineered that. And he tried to put the blame on Obama for a shuttered General Motors plant in his state. Never mind that the automaker announced its plans nearly eight months before Obama took office.
There were plenty of other falsehoods repeated by the candidates, as well as a host of other Republicans, that have been debunked by fact checkers.
The Republicans have said this is a campaign about ideas and choices; they say their ideas are better. If that’s the case, why aren’t they talking specifically about their ideas instead of playing fast and loose with the truth, pandering to the lowest common denominator?
The Republicans’ divisive, disingenuous rhetoric isn’t fitting for a presidential candidate who pledges to unite the country.
To borrow another line from the convention: America deserves better than this.