You might think that the Republican presidential primary debates will damage the party, exposing as they do the nastiness of the candidates and the emptiness of their proposals. But there’s another side to the story.
The debates provide a platform for the most pernicious right-wing propaganda, which is repeated over and over – usually without a whisper of protest from the moderators.
What do those moderators do for their pay, anyway? It seems their only job is to parrot questions fed to them by their producers. The questions usually do little more than stoke the (fake?) animosity between the candidates, but occasionally a question will deal with a substantive issue. And that’s when the debaters get their chance to spread their lies.
How about this whopper from Mitt Romney last night?
President Barack Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus program “didn’t create private-sector jobs.
It’s amazing that Romney’s nose didn’t start growing.
As the Associated Press pointed out politely this morning:
There is no support for that assertion. Between 1.2 million and 3.7 million full-time-equivalent jobs were created last year because of the stimulus, according to an August 2011 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Meanwhile, another government report found the stimulus program has paid $34.5 billion in tax incentives to businesses, including $260 million to hire younger, unemployed war veterans.
Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.
This is one of Romney’s favorite lies, and he is allowed to repeat it constantly. Why don’t those TV interviewers and debate moderators stop him short and point out that he is lying through his teeth?
If I were organizing one of those debates, I would arrange for a flashing red light and a buzzer to go off when anyone tells a lie. And the truth would immediately appear in bold type across the screen.
The way it is now, the debates are just one more outlet for the endless stream of lies that the right-wing propagandists have manufactured. The result is that many Americans have come to believe the most outrageous disinformation.
As Micheal Lind points out in Salon.com today:
One benefit of the prolonged campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has been the revelation that most of the 20 or 30 percent of Americans who describe themselves as conservatives live in a fantasy world. In their imaginations, Barack Obama, a centrist Democrat with roots in Eisenhower Republicanism rather than Rooseveltian liberalism, is a radical figure trying to take America down the path of “European socialism.” The signature healthcare reform of Obama and the Democratic Congress, modeled on Mitt Romney’s insurance-friendly Massachusetts healthcare program and closely resembling a proposal by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, is described as “statist,” “socialist” or “fascist” (as though Hitler came to power with the goal of providing subsidies to private health insurance companies).
How can otherwise sane people believe such lunacy? The answer is that members of the right-wing counterculture are brainwashed — that is the only appropriate term — by the apocalyptic propaganda ground out constantly by the conservative media establishment.
And the brainwashing has only just begun. Brace yourself for a relentless torrent of anti-Obama lies as the 2012 election campaign gathers steam.