Thursday, August 30, 2012


POLITICS STOPS AT THE WATER'S EDGE: CONDI. SMOKE AND MIRRORS: PAUL RYAN. It still amazes me how seasoned professionals fall prey to the pack media mentality/narrative. Big Eddie and Lawrence made a beeline straight for the Beltway KOOL-AID dispenser. Eddie with his "a star is born" shit, as if citing Ryan's reference to his i-POD playlist, from AC-DC to Zep, is somehow going to resonate with the youth vote. Even "I" think that's taking GenExers much too shallowly. Then Howard went over the top trying to find deeper generational meaning in Ryan's presentation. And of course, their resident political hack and bullshit artist, Michael Steele, was nodding agreeably and soaking it all in. Even the earnest Steve Schmidt seemed relieved not to be called on to justify the lies, so much, as the Reverend Al trained anti-Ryan fire and brimstone on him.

Of everyone present at the MSNBC roundtable, only the Rev and Chris (who is chanelling his inner progressive more and more, finding truth and liberation there), and to some extent Rachel (I heard a different speech from that Hispanic lady; Rachel thought it was "stunning", I thought it was trite) acquitted themselves with their skeptical political radars somewhat intact. Most of the time Rachel is right on, but then she takes to weird flights of fancy — her continuous irritating Ron Paul flirtation, it was a ripple and not the wave Rachel thought; they shut that hemorrhoid down, except for his obnoxious son, so crybaby runs back home to sulk — perhaps a cultural blind spot; as far as that Latina goes, they might vote for her over an Anglo and split their ticket, voting for Obama at the top. So what? Do y'all think Latinos are that stupid?! Quite the contrary, the Latino vote is solid for Obama; Latino voters are much, MUCH smarter than the whitebread Republican base.

As for Condi Rice, what Chris said. Mostly. I think Condi is an exemplary diplomat, who, unlike her ratbastard Republican brethren, would never do anything to undermine America's standing in the world. And that's as it should be. As Condi said, tellingly, "we only have one president at a time." Even though I disagree with her on almost every issue, she won me over for good with that hilarious skit on 30 Rock blowing off her "boyfriend" Alec Baldwin as he grovelled before her. Condoleeza Rice is that rarity among today's Republicans: A class act.

On to Paul Ryan. Smoke and mirrors. Deception and lies. Bland niceness keeping, for the most part, his extremism in check. He did that effectively. But as for how he played to a wider audience, he failed in one critical aspect. I was looking for the guy who could step in to the presidency the moment Mitt Romney has his inevitable psychotic, Nixonesque breakdown — and I didn't see it. I didn't see a guy who projected confidence, knowledge (particularly about foreign policy and national security) or that useful cliché, gravitas, at all.

I saw a guy reading his lines competently, telling poker-faced lies which should be slammed repeatedly in coming weeks, and reciting Orwellian propaganda with choppy, mild-mannered consistency. But for those of us watching outside the hall, the question that kept coming up, in the wake of the ongoing Mama Grizzly trainwreck, is whether this guy is ready to step into the breach in a crisis. And the answer to that question, for most viewers I think, is no. Couple that with the fact that even more serious doubts about temperament, foreign policy competence, trust and leadership afflict the top of the ticket — once the media-created Ryan deception (including by MSNBC's Idiot Punditocracy) blows over, reality will set in.

The most offensive lie of the many Paul Ryan shamelessly told, was his Objectivist, anti-Christian slap in the face of the Nuns and Catholic groups that have vociferously opposed his budget for decimating the meager lifeline and safety net extended to the poorest Americans:
We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.
The cynical brazenness of this arrogant, cruel, mean-spirited liar, gives us a glimpse of the real Paul Ryan: A cold Objectivist who, in effect, was saying to the Sisters, 'how dare you challenge my superior intellect, my deserving status against the inferior drug-addicted refuse of society', as he swooned and riffed in true hypocritical Objectivist mode on his so-called "path" and "journey" in which he raided (to use his word) Social Security survivor benefits to fund his college education and spent his entire career on the taxpayer's dime as a politician: "That's freedom, and I'll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners."

RIGHT. The selfsame "central planners" who jumpstarted Paul Ryan's career. Can anyone say, projection?

Whatever our views of John McCain and Joe Biden, both these politicians have the experience and gravitas to pass the test of assuming the highest office in the world. Neither Paul Ryan nor Mitt Romney do. As for President Obama, six words: Osama Bin Laden and auto bailout rescue. On the other hand, McCain's insane bellicosity, his simmering resentment toward the President, and his snarky aside to Rachel — who has written a book proving she knows more about our military policy than McCain does — that President Obama is "AWOL," a sarcastic reply to Rachel's question, "which means 'Absent Without Official Leave'," only reinforces the impression that McCain should retire to his Arizona ranch because he's been, himself, "AWOL" for many years now.

Steve Benen on Maddowblog referenced Paul Ryan's "breathtaking display of brazen dishonesty. Paul Ryan looked America in the eye and without a hint of shame, lied to our face."
Ryan lied about President Obama's auto-industry rescue, blaming the administration for a plant closing orchestrated by President Bush. Ryan lied about Medicare, falsely accusing Obama of undermining the system. Ryan lied about the debt downgrade, falsely blaming the president for a downgrade caused by Ryan and congressional Republicans.

Ryan lied about the Simpson-Bowles commission, falsely accusing Obama of walking away from debt reduction, and ignoring the fact that Ryan himself fought to ensure the Simpson-Bowles commission never even released a report. Ryan lied about his plans for the safety net, saying he intends to "protect the weak" when he budget plan intends to gut public investments that benefit the poor.

Ryan lied about the debt, saying Obama "has added more debt than any other president before him," when the truth is, that was George W. Bush — who added over $5 trillion to the debt thanks in large part to congressional votes cast by Paul Ryan.

Ryan lied about the Recovery Act, calling the stimulus "a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst," when reality shows the exact opposite. Ryan lied about small businesses, accusing Obama of raising their taxes, when he actually cut their taxes.

Paul Ryan, the man the media and Republican celebrate as a bold truth-teller, told one lie after another, demonstrating a near-pathological disdain for honesty. His speech presented no substantive ideas, no policy solutions, and no bold positions on any key issue, but it included enough falsehoods to choke a fact-checker — all because he assumes you're a fool and journalists are too incompetent to separate fact from fiction.
Can he get away with it? Only if the Obama campaign doesn't respond in kind. If they don't systematically call Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney out, by name, on each and every one of their specific lies, they will be guilty of political malpractice equal to that of the opposite camp. You fight fire with fire. Are you listening, Davids Plouffe and Axelrod?

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