Monday, September 3, 2012
A party with a mission, they gathered in Tampa to present their candidate and themselves in the most favorable light possible. Disciplined and determined, they planned, four years in advance, to show the country here and now they are infinitely more fit to govern than the candidate and the party the people had elected. You have to ask—at least I have to—if a party that plans four years in advance to hold such an all-important presidential-nominating national convention in a hurricane-prone region during hurricane season after its previous national convention was delayed by a hurricane in the same time frame is a party conceivably capable of planning the future of this country.
Sparing no expense, the RNC staged and scripted the proceedings ad nauseam, or possibly ad tedium. They stifled spontaneity, silenced or ignored discordant opinion, and deemed their recent two-term president unmentionable and their last vice-presidential campaign darling persona non grata. As if by fiat, they ruled out embarrassments. A locked-down convention, with no surprises. Until, that is, the gaff-master invited one for his crowning night. Surprise!
Party luminaries came from all four corners of the nation to talk about themselves. They made barely standard references to the party’s standard bearer. The only one talking primarily about Mitt Romney was his wife, Anne. In case you missed any of the solipsism, i.e. the self as the only reality, Santorum served Santorum, Christie boosted and boasted about Christie, and Newt and Calista, obliviously parodying a 20th century icon, “American Gothic,” babbled in responsive tongues about relatively little.
The star of the evenings was not Paul Ryan, as expected, not Mitt Romney, as longed for, and definitely not the “surprise guest,” as regretted, but a relative unknown, Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico, who scored heavily by telling her unvarnished, and what I dearly want to believe was her true, story.
Which bring us to truth-telling. Christie, a self-aggrandizing truth-teller, had a lot to say about it, so he certainly wasn’t talking about Governor Romney—or, as we now know, Representative Paul Ryan, who was supposed to be forthright and honest, a veritable paragon of virtue or, at the least, the Gentile equivalent of a mensch. In only 23 days since becoming the person who could be the next vice president of the United States and only 35 minutes, give or take an untruth, of presenting that paragon to the largest audience he’s faced to date, he has become, unabashedly and unapologetically, MisRepresentative Ryan.
Ryan’s convention speech and subsequent lies have been well-documented by practically everyone on both sides of the political spectrum, so in lieu of repeating the indictments, I quote an admirable, brave truth-teller, Sally Kohn, a Fox News contributor and writer, “…to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.” I urge you to read her detailed account, which includes the enlightening, “And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.”
On the whole, truth did not fare well at the GOP convention. Nor was there as much as a visible, honorable attempt to keep to the facts. To the contrary, lying was condoned and encouraged. Sound unfair and outrageous? According to Mitt Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” According to Rudy Giuliani, in his attempt to justify Ryan’s lies, “Well, look, when people give speeches, not every fact is absolutely accurate.” Apparently neither Newhouse nor Giuliani, believe it or not, a former Associate Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice, knows what “fact” means, or that it’s an antonym of fiction.
Lying is easy and gets easier. Irresponsible politicians, inspired by “the stupidity of people in large groups,” easily lose sight, so it seems, of honor, principle and truth. Seduced by the sonorousness of their own voices, they believe in the substance of their lack of substance, wallow in slogans, catch-phrases and rhetoric and think that saying something, anything!, makes it so. Taking Goebbels’ famous dictum one step further: “Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” for the liar.
Now consider: If lying works so well, their fabrications may be able to stick it to the Democrats and dupe undecided voters today, but given the power tomorrow, what falsehoods would they be telling the country, and to what purpose or profit?
It’s their party. And they’ll lie if they want to.