I expect to take issue with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s policies and their proposed legislation. That is just a matter of ideological difference and the nature of politics. What is cause for concern, however, and a serious threat to the function of American politics, is the complete disregard for truth that the Romney-Ryan campaign has shown thus far.
Lying in a presidential campaign is nothing new. Both Democrats and Republicans will continue to lie so long as the American public fails to hold them accountable. The truly damning thing, though, is that there have been many questions of accuracy, and yet this Republican campaign has ranged from the purposefully misleading to the blatantly false squarely in the face of any attempt to point out its deceptions.
Neil Newhouse, a pollster for the Romney campaign, got right to the point: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” Newhouse said at an ABC News panel on Aug. 28, the first night of the Republican National Convention.
This seems to be the prevailing mantra of the campaign as of late. In a political scene where nearly every government official lies, the Romney campaign takes it one step further. There at least used to be some dignity in feigning truthfulness and then ignorance when called out on an inaccuracy. But now, with this campaign, there isn’t even the act of pretending to be truthful.
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC serves as a prime example of a campaign steadfast in its goal to manipulate fact and deceive the electorate. There is the way Ryan conveniently left out certain crucial facts: His budget makes the same amount of cuts to Medicare that he lambasts President Barack Obama for, and he served on the Bowles-Simpson debt commission and opposed its report, all while criticizing Obama for not taking action on the very report Ryan voted against.
Additionally, certain statements in the speech were simply incorrect. He claimed the president’s first priority entering office was health care when, in actuality, the stimulus package – the job creation plan Ryan claims Obama never attempted – was the very first legislation passed after Obama took office.
It even got downright silly, like blaming Obama for the closing of a General Motors Co. plant in Wisconsin when, in reality, the decision to close was made in June 2008, months before Obama was even elected. I understand Ryan disagrees with Obama’s policies – that’s fine and expected. But when Ryan denies that Obama has any sort of debt plan, it’s nothing short of false.
Usually any attempt by the mainstream media to correct inaccuracies in speeches like this is chalked up to “liberal media bias,” but even Fox News writer Sally Kohn had a go at Ryan’s speech, calling it “an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”
This sort of thing has become typical fare for a campaign – and a party – dead set on removing Obama from office by any means necessary. The first night of the RNC was dedicated to a deliberate misquoting of the president, featuring intermittent playback of an edited audio clip of the now-infamous “you didn’t build that” speech.
The issue is that the American public doesn’t know what it’s voting for. With Ryan delivering speeches riddled with inaccuracies and Romney failing to provide sufficient details to adequately assess his policies, it’s impossible to take this campaign at its word. There are plenty of true things for which to criticize the president; the Romney campaign chooses to make up its own.