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Tuesday, 09 October 2012 06:34

Mitt Romney and the Pretense of Truth

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Unrestrained glee greeted the nomination of Paul Ryan for the party’s vice presidential slot.at the Republican Convention especially on the part of Ryan himself.  That glee has dissipated somewhat because events don’t justify such enthusiasm. After all just reiterating the same talking points is hardly a winning strategy and is actually a stale, unproductive way of spear-heading a campaign.


In fact Ryan has begun to look harried and uncertain during interviews in which he seems to struggle with the ‘facts’ he is called upon to express - - even though many of them have long been part of the Republican mantra he previously supported and advanced in speech after impassioned speech. If the Romney campaign thought Ryan would spice up a rather lackluster and monotonous campaign effort in which just raising one’s voice would convey meaningful substance and breathtaking insights this has hardly been the case. Perhaps this is because the Romney – Ryan relationship was based on a threadbare accord neither party fully understood.


In the recent debate between Romney and the president glee no longer describes the over riding element in the Republican playbook, having been replaced by the smug, self-satisfied posture Romney now exudes. Ah, people are saying, this must be the real Romney, but where is the president? He has left supporters searching for answers and comfort. Maybe he’ll do better in the next debate they say, but by then of course some of the responses he should have used the first time around may no longer be appropriate. How did he manage to make a blunder of such magnitude? Democrats aren’t so much angry as they are stunned. They know the president is a very bright guy and they support his policies for the most part and want him to win. What, they wonder, explains his passive performance, and how are they to deal with their disappointment and the terrible prospect that Romney could actually end up winning?


Of course a president Romney won’t have days to prepare answers when emergencies occur. And he won’t get away with some of his outrageous misstatements, nor will his curious math stand when its obvious flaws are made clear in the press. Most people understand that gas prices aren’t something the president controls. They probably don’t understand the oil we drill ends up on the global market so there is no direct correlation between supply and demand as it is usually understood.  It doesn’t make sense to blame or praise administrations for fluctuations in world markets over which it they have no control and yet candidates continue to use them as partisan ploys.


Republicans are all puffed up now and it doesn’t bother them a bit that their ongoing strategy is built upon structural whoppers. In fact Romney has nothing to be proud of and the best word to describe his surrogates and supporters is ‘disgusting,’ Ann Coulter on Fox, in addition to her usual poisonous oratory, talked about Obama’s ears of all things, and former governor Sununu called Obama “lazy” and “not that bright.” Conservative activists are masters at hiding deceit in a cloud of political claptrap. But outright lies should not be tolerated by either party no matter how tempting a partisan quip may be.


After several weeks during which Romney allowed his 47% remark to be ‘in-artfully’ repeated in every possible venue he retracted it claiming it to be an inadvertent utterance made in the throes of a hectic campaign. Never mind that he was dining with fat-cat donors in a relaxed atmosphere among friends with whom he no doubt felt at ease. But did he really think he could convince people he’d had an epiphany and discovered he was wrong about the 47% thing, as if he had just realized a factual error instead of a revelatory one in which his true feelings emerged unexpectedly?


Basically, however, the truth is in short supply and often hard to identify in any case, it being studiously avoided to protect those who want to win at any cost, a state of mind that is becoming more and more prevalent these days. Winning may be the only thing when it comes to football, but it shouldn’t be the guiding principle in politics if we ever hope to have a political system worthy of our democratic institutions.