Commandment takes beating in Tampa: “Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Convention Rhetoric”

Mitt Romney is a Mormon and Paul Ryan is a Roman Catholic so they will differ on how to number the Ten Commandments, but they both violated the one that says, “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

Ryan went first with these obvious lies:

1. He claimed the President had “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” It just isn’t true. When he took office the national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars, and is now about 15 trillion. How much of that is his?  President Bush increased the debt by more than 5 trillion dollars during his two terms. President Obama has increased the debt by less than 1 trillion. The two Republican wars have been expensive, but the Bush tax cuts have been more so.

2. Ryan blamed the president for the credit downgrade last August, even though the ratings agency that made the downgrade blamed Republicans for refusing to accept any tax increases as part of a deal.

3. Ryan blamed the president for the failure of the Bowles-Simpson compromise plan, when in fact it was Ryan who persuaded other House Republicans to scuttle the plan.

4. Ryan blamed the president for the closing of a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, but the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

5.  Ryan claims that “$716 billion, (was) funneled out of Medicare by President Obama,” a deliberate distortion of the Affordable Health Care Act savings by eliminating inefficiencies, when Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these same savings.

6. Ryan, an admirer of Ayn Rand, the high priestess of self-reliance and contempt for the poor and weak, said in his speech: “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak,” and “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” Yet his budget has Draconian cuts in social programs for the poor and unwell. At the same time Ryan would give richest citizens and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.

Governor Romney is not as big a liar as Congressman Ryan, but that is damning with faint praise. He started his speech with one of the biggest whoppers in political history (what Andrew Sullivan called the big lie):

Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than divides us.

Now anybody who has picked up a newspaper or watched a legitimate TV news source (which eliminates Fox) knows that the President was met by a partisan wall of Republican non-cooperation from his first week in office. The GOP decided that they would put making the President look bad above the good of the country.  And they didn’t even bother to hide their contempt for him, as when Mitch McConnell pronounced that his party’s  primary goal was the President’s defeat: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

I don’t ever remember such open contempt for a sitting President, which I ascribe (at least partly) to racism, I am sad to say.

So Governor Romney’s rewritten narrative that “Americans always come together after elections” is an egregious lie.

But there were other lies in his speech, including these

  •  “Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class.” This isn’t true, but according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Romney’s own tax plan would increase the tax burden on middle- and low-income Americans if it is to be revenue neutral, as Romney promises.
  •  “His trillion-dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk.” These cuts are hardly “his” (President Obama’s) as they result from an agreement between House Democrats and Republicans unless they can agree on other ways to cut spending.
  •  “His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today’s seniors, and depress innovation – and jobs – in medicine.” These “cuts” are actually reductions in future Medicare spending, and they are to providers, not Medicare recipients. They also extend the life of the Medicare program, which is perhaps why Paul Ryan has included them in his own budget plan.
  •  “Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before.” This one is factually true, but misleading. The poverty rate, a far fairer gauge of poverty under the president, was 15.1 percent in 2010. That’s the highest since 1993, and it’s nothing to be proud of. But it’s 7.3 percentage points lower than the 1959 poverty rate.
  •  “The centerpiece of the President’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success.” This is a reference to the President’s now famous “You didn’t build that” speech, which was taken out of context, his point being that you need help to be successful.  (Source: CBS News fact check)

Both Ryan and Romney know they are not telling the truth about the president. Where there are political differences let there be vigorous debate, but let the lying stop. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” And God said, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

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6 thoughts on “Commandment takes beating in Tampa: “Lies, Damn Lies, and Republican Convention Rhetoric”

  1. Obama actually reduced middle class taxes. People, however, don’t realize it because it showed up as small amounts every week in people’s paychecks and not as one large government issued check.

    Regarding the poverty rate… I believe the 1959 poverty rate was due to the high poverty rate among the elderly. After Medicare became a federal program as part of Johnson’s Great Society, the poverty rate for the elderly dropped dramatically. The Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare will dismantle the program, which will probably increase poverty rates for the elderly.

    I believe the GOP is correct in one aspect of this election – we will face a stark choice between two different visions of society. The GOP’s strident libertarianism will do much to unravel the ties that bind people together as community. The Democrats would not.

  2. Thank you, Quentin, for your astute comment. There was a time in our country when being old was a sentence of abject poverty (unless you were wealthy.) The New Deal and the Great Society legislation helped alleviate that. The GOP seems nostalgic for those earlier
    days.

  3. Thanks for your observations, Rick. I There is a very troubling underceurrent in the rhetoric.
    I have been hearing the term “dog whistle messaging” being used to describe some of what we withnessed this past week about race. While the practice of “dog whistling” is not confined to any one political group, the language and images are upsetting. I wrote about this in my book, All Politics Is Religious.
    Also, one of our seminary professors used to say, “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” Fitting words for these days.
    Keep up the good work!
    Dennis

  4. “Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O’Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. “It’s new information.”…

    The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Romney’s ad “four Pinocchios,” a measure Romney pollster Neil Newhouse dismissed.

    “Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” he said.

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