How Can the President Fight this Cascade of Lies?
Listening to the speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, we are getting a closeup of the most blatantly dishonest political campaign to which the American public has ever been subjected. The lies just keep on coming.
The speakers don’t restrict themselves to “spin” and half-truths, they make up “facts.”
You can wink knowingly when Nikki Haley blames President Obama for a National Labor Relations board ruling that would have kept South Carolina from getting a Boeing aircraft plant. After all, as president, the buck stops at Obama’s desk even when he had nothing to do with the NLRB’s ruling on the Boeing strike. And you can shrug when Chris Christie claims credit for balancing the New Jersey budget when he had no alternative; New Jersey’s constitution does not allow deficits.
You might even give Rob Portman a pass for pretending that when he was George W. Bush’s budget chief, China didn’t indulge in the same rogue behavior that the Obama administration has had to face.
I suppose you could call that “spin.” And politicians delight in “spin.”
But when Rick Santorum repeats the Romney campaign’s accusation that the president eliminated the work requirement from federal welfare regulations, he is not “spinning” the facts; he is lying. Every unbiased fact checker has branded this claim false but the Romney ads keep repeating it. And Santorum feeds this falsehood to a cheering crowd then goes home to say his prayers without shame.
Perhaps the most blatant lie so far is the preposterous claim by vice presidential pick Paul Ryan (photo above) that the president’s health care reform law will deprive seniors of $716 billion in Medicare benefits. It’s a claim the Romney campaign has been making, and it is just not true.
Here’s what the Associated Press fact checkers found:
The cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers.
AP also noted that:
Ryan’s claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction.
The falsehood about Obamacare taking money from Medicare to provide health care for poor blacks and Hispanics was fabricated to enrage seniors, especially those who might harbor racially fueled resentment against America’s first black president. And it was concocted in response to the fact that Ryan’s budget, which has been adopted by the Republicans, would adversely affect seniors directly.
As AP points out:
Ryan’s own plan to remake Medicare would squeeze the program’s spending even more than the changes Obama made, shifting future retirees into a system in which they would get a fixed payment to shop for coverage among private insurance plans. Critics charge that would expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket costs.
Everyone who is paying attention will know that Ryan is lying but many seniors are predisposed to believing him. They want to believe the worst of Obama.
This was not the only lie in Ryan’s speech. As AP points out today, the speech was riddled with false charges.
Ryan’s pernicious speech fit the pattern that the Romney campaign has chosen. And they will have virtually unlimited funds to promote the lies they have concocted during the next couple of months.
I wonder whether the American people will see through the smoke screen that’s coming.
This election will challenge the oft-vaunted “wisdom of the people.” It will test the very validity of democracy.