By Lynn Paris
I understand fully that political campaigns, and especially political conventions, are designed to cast the opposing candidate in a bad light while shining a bright and well filtered light on their own candidate. They all spin the facts to favor them, skip details that might be unpleasant for them, manipulate by implying some things and distorting others, use only those statistics and surveys that benefit their side and cleverly attempt to get you to infer truths that simply aren’t true. Both parties are guilty of that and always have been.
But they aren’t supposed to be able to lie, blatantly, and get away with it. At least, that’s what I always thought. Early in August, Romney said, (when discussing a super-PAC ad that tried to imply a connection between the death of a cancer patient to Romney’s role at Bain Capital)
"You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad. . . . You know, the various fact-checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they're wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them." And I agreed with his statement; even though the ad didn’t contain any lies, it was certainly crafted to manipulate. That’s politics, and politics can be a dirty game.
Imagine my surprise, then, when just a couple of weeks later Romney pollster Neil Newhouse stated, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." In other words, fact checkers are no longer deemed relevant to Romney. No kidding. Because that would have made it impossible for the Republicans to continue to run the egregiously false ads claiming Obama gutted the work requirements from welfare. In fact, even I had to fact- check that one when a friend, who happens to be a conservative Republican, first told me about it.
For those of you who actually care about the facts, this is what really happened. The Obama administration did NOT end the work requirement for welfare recipients. Because several states (including Massachusetts under Governor Romney, by the way!) requested more flexibility to try new approaches to help low income people find jobs, the Obama Administration said it would consider departures (by the states) from existing TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) work participation rules, but only if those changes "... were intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.”
In fact, a memo from Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius states that governors' proposals must move "at least 20% more people from welfare to work compared to the state's past performance." That seems like a fact to me. Which makes the ad campaign, and the continuous repetition of this charge at the Republican convention, a blatant lie, perhaps best expressed by Rick Santorum in his convention speech (and the Republicans are proving that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth, at least to those who don’t bother to check) when he said, “Obama showed us once again he believes in government handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare.”
Of course, I wasn’t really surprised. None of this surprises me. This is just one tiny example of what has been the underlying game plan by Republicans since Mitch McConnel was first heard to utter his famous, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
What do I think that game plan consists of? Well, lying, for one thing. Lots and lots of lying, starting way back with those death panels and Obama being a socialist and getting our country back and Obama being influenced by Europe and apologizing for America and government takeovers and the stimulus didn’t work and our credit rating was lowered because of Obama and eventually, Obama will take your guns away and we’ll be a welfare nation and then repeating those lies ad nauseum so that enough people believe them because that’s all they hear . . . and . . . and . . .
I just realized that I could go on and on and on, and that the more I do the more upset I become, and that it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my mental or emotional health. I take it all too personally and get too riled up and depressed and anxious and angry. So, I’m going to stop doing it. I’m going to stop writing about politics. I may write an occasional column about something that interests me, like my dogs or football or something, but it won’t be about politics. No more adding to the noise.
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