Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Voters looking for a few nuggets of truth would not have found them in Tampa on Tuesday.

How the Republicans Built It

It was a day late, but 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.
“We built it,” the slogan of the evening, was painted on the side of the convention hall. Speaker after speaker alluded to the phrase in an entire day based on the thinnest of reeds — a poorly phrased remark by the president, deliberately taken out of context. President Obama was making the obvious point that all businesses rely to some extent on the work and services of government. But Mr. Romney has twisted it to suggest that Mr. Obama believes all businesses are creatures of the government, and so the convention had to parrot the line.
“We need a president who will say to a small businesswoman: Congratulations, we applaud your success, you did make that happen, you did build that,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia. “Big government didn’t build America; you built America!”
That was far from the only piece of nonsense on the menu, only the most frequently repeated one. 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 have no basis in reality.
There was a wide variation on this theme.
President Obama, said Representative Tim Griffin of Arkansas, had “raided” Medicare of $716 billion, not mentioning that the money is really coming out of hospital and insurance reimbursements, not benefits, and that Paul Ryan had proposed the same cuts.
John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, said the president had lost the world’s respect because he “prefers to lead from behind,” inflating an anonymous comment from a White House aide into a philosophy and ignoring the success of the Libyan mission to which the remark referred.
Rae Lynne Chornenky, president of the National Federation of Republican Women, repeated the oft-discredited line that 92 percent of all the jobs lost under Mr. Obama were those of women. Men lost the vast majority of jobs in the recession, which began under President George W. Bush. The only way the Republicans can arrive at Ms. Chornenky’s fictitious version is by pretending it began at the start of the Obama presidency. One could just as easily point out that men gained 1.9 million jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, and women 635,000 jobs.
Andy Barr, a Congressional candidate in Kentucky, made the particularly egregious charge that the president was conducting “a war on coal,” ruthlessly attacking an industry and thousands of struggling miners.
He was apparently referring to the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and prevent power-plant pollution from drifting through the East Coast states. The country desperately needs to reduce its reliance on coal, which is far more polluting than natural gas, but that goal gets harder to achieve every time someone like Mr. Barr makes it out to be an attack on a way of life.
Considering how Mr. Romney has conducted his campaign so far, most recently his blatantly false advertising accusing Mr. Obama of gutting the work requirement on welfare, it is probably not surprising that the convention he leads would follow a similar path.
Voters looking for a few nuggets of truth would not have found them in Tampa on Tuesday.

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