With the election drawing near, the pace of political posting on Facebook is rapidly picking up. I found two interest things just the other day.
The first thing a friend put up is “The Worst Lies Paul Ryan Told.” What quickly becomes apparent is that, well, Paul Ryan didn’t really tell lies. His facts were correct, we just disagree with his conclusions. I do believe that John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” The people at Care2 make a difference seem to believe that, stubborn though facts are, they can just be ignored into insignificance. Herewith a small sampling of the post, along with my interlineations in square brackets:
“It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”
It’s true that America’s credit rating was downgraded by one of the three major credit rating agencies during Obama’s term. While Moody’s and Fitch both rate America’s debt at “AAA,” or “outstanding,” Standard & Poor’s dropped the US rating to “AA+,” or “excellent,” in 2011. [In other words, Paul Ryan's statement was absolutely correct. It's a stubborn fact. That doesn't stop liberals from attacking it.]
However, Ryan is being dishonest when he lays the blame for the downgrade at President Barack Obama’s feet. After all, S&P said why they were downgrading U.S. debt, and they didn’t blame Obama. Instead, S&P blamed the “brinksmanship” of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, in which House Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling without significant cuts to the budget. S&P also lamented a refusal to consider higher taxes, saying, “It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.”
Who was leading the House charge against Obama? Well, the House leadership team, including their budget committee chair, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan himself was instrumental in forcing the brinksmanship that led the U.S. to have its debt downgraded; Ryan was right about a downgraded America, but the culprit isn’t Barack Obama, but rather the guy Ryan sees in the mirror each morning. [The blame for this fact -- a downgraded credit rating -- could just easily have been laid at Obama's door. A game of chicken always has two players. Obama was enthusiastic about imposing ever greater debt upon America, while the Republicans, Ryan included, made the principled claim that this was suicide, and that the only way to improve the American economic situation is to do with every intelligent person facing financial trouble would do: cut spending. In other words, from Ryan's point of view, the credit rating collapse occurred because of Obama's dangerous profligacy, which Republicans, with great difficulty, reined in slightly.]
“Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.”
“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”
This is a two-fer. The first part is technically true — the debt has gone up significantly during the term of President Obama. Ryan failed to mention, however, that the increase in debt is primarily due to two policies — the Bush Tax Cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Simply, those were all policies Obama inherited — all policies started by President George W. Bush, and supported by the vote of Paul Ryan. [Again, the article begins by conceding the truth of Ryan's statements. Yes, debt has increased faster on Obama's watch than ever before. So where's the lie? Well, we'll get to that.]
It’s the second part, though, where Ryan really outdoes himself. It’s true, Obama did appoint the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which was tasked with looking for ways to reduce the debt. Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson did issue a report. That report was not endorsed by the full commission, however, which rejected the report. [Oh, well, the second part is kind of true too, Care2 concedes. Obama appointed a commission and ignored it. There's no indication that, when the commission faltered, Obama did anything to engage it further.]
Among the members of the commission who voted against the report? The chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan. [Yes, he did. And it's important to note here that Ryan never said he agreed with the commission. He just said that Obama is so disengaged from the American economy and the federal budget that Obama ignored his own commission. No lies here.]
Yes, Paul Ryan was a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission, the “bipartisan debt commission” he references, as if they were a group he was vaguely familiar with. “‘They’ came back with an urgent report,” except “they” didn’t — the commission didn’t issue a report. And while Obama didn’t push the recommendations of the commission, Paul Ryan actively opposed them, voting against them, and preventing the report from being officially adopted. [Same point. Ryan never said he agreed with the commission. He just said that Obama, having delegated a task, completely ignored the outcome.]
So while Barack Obama may have decided to pass on the recommendations of some members of a commission, Paul Ryan, a member of that commission, opposed those recommendations. And yet Ryan tells America that we should be outraged at Obama for not adopting the proposals Ryan himself opposed. Truly, the man has a dizzying intellect. [No, Ryan tells America they should be outraged that Obama is so lazy, he didn't even work with his own debt commission.]
And so it goes. Not lie, after not lie. In every case, the article concedes that Ryan stated the absolute truth. The post’s authors simply do not like to the conclusions Ryan reasonably draws from those truths, and therefore castigates them as lies. By the way, if you want to see real lies — statements that are completely at odds with facts — check out the Top Ten Biden lies. These weren’t Biden’s only bald-faced lies; just the most significant of Biden’s bald-faced lies.
The other thing I found on Facebook was Matt Taibbi’s over-the-top support of Biden’s debate behavior, which he spells out in his Rolling Stone article:
I’ve never thought much of Joe Biden. But man, did he get it right in last night’s debate, and not just because he walloped sniveling little Paul Ryan on the facts. What he got absolutely right, despite what you might read this morning (many outlets are criticizing Biden’s dramatic excesses), was his tone. Biden did absolutely roll his eyes, snort, laugh derisively and throw his hands up in the air whenever Ryan trotted out his little beady-eyed BS-isms.
But he should have! He was absolutely right to be doing it. We all should be doing it. That includes all of us in the media, and not just paid obnoxious-opinion-merchants like me, but so-called “objective” news reporters as well. We should all be rolling our eyes, and scoffing and saying, “Come back when you’re serious.”
The load of balls that both Romney and Ryan have been pushing out there for this whole election season is simply not intellectually serious. Most of their platform isn’t even a real platform, it’s a fourth-rate parlor trick designed to paper over the real agenda – cutting taxes even more for super-rich dickheads like Mitt Romney, and getting everyone else to pay the bill.
That is how the Left thinks. I believe it has something to do with Alinsky:
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
What Taibbi really forgets is that there are four parties involved in the debate process: the two candidates, the moderator, and the American people. As to these last, Biden’s behavior was a gross insult. Tabibi and Biden are so locked into their Alinsky-esque world view, that they forget that they Biden was engaging in a stately ritual of democracy. As to that, I think Michael Medved has the best counter to Tabibi’s crude savagery:
In the last 40 years of presidential politics, Democrats have often derided their Republican rivals as jokers and buffoons. But they have never before laughed in their faces on national TV. In that sense, Joe Biden made history with his weird, wired performance in the vice-presidential debate—but he did so in a way that could easily damage the Obama campaign.
[Medved gives examples of the Ford/Carter debates and the Bentsen/Quayle debates, where the pre-debate rhetoric from the Left was crude and demeaning, but the debate itself was dignified]
Finally, Sarah Palin’s moose-hunting exploits, chirpy delivery, disinterest in daily newspapers and powerful, puzzling Christian mama sexiness offered the ripest possible target to the comedy-industrial complex, yet when she faced Joe Biden in their widely-watched debate he behaved like a perfect gentleman. He smiled indulgently, even affectionately at times, but wisely avoided giving any discernible indication that he considered the first female GOP nominee anything less than a worthy opponent.
Why, then, did he decide to snicker, chuckle, grin, smirk and shake his head at the one GOP nominee for national office in the last 50 years that even partisan Democrats acknowledge as a serious, substantive, and formidable guy?
The oddest aspect of his patronizing performance involved the complete disconnect between his derisive laughter and anything that Paul Ryan actually said. Where, exactly, did the GOP nominee make some point so ridiculous, or express himself so clumsily, that the only appropriate response would be the uncontrollable urge to titter or chortle?
Biden was the slob at the state dinner, the guy who messes up a young woman’s wedding, the person who spills the water at the baptism. He took a solemn, meaningful occasion (perhaps not always substantive, but still in important part of America’s ritual) and despoiled it.