Democracy is a messy form of government in part because a divergent group of people jockey for position to have their voices heard, and politicians campaigning to represent those groups often sully the process even more. Political campaigns transcend messiness and voters are left trying to sort through claims and counterclaims to find a reason to support a candidate to represent the people’s best interests. It is normal for a candidate to cite their record of achievements and point out their opponent’s weaknesses in full view of the electorate, but when their opponent’s record leaves them with little to criticize and they are Republicans they resort to lies and character assassination without a basis in fact. It is still early going in the campaign for the general election and Republicans have already began their well-rehearsed practice of demeaning President Obama in lieu of any reality-based criticism, because regardless of ideological political leanings, the man’s record leaves little room for honest reproach.
Barack Obama campaigned as a Centrist, and his Administration has stayed true to his self-portrayal as representing the entire nation and not just one or two fringe sub-groups like Republicans are wont to do. When he took office the economy was hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs each month and there was no economic growth, and today, although there is not mythological full employment, jobs growth has been steady and the economy is growing again. President Obama will be the first to admit there is still a long way to go to get America back on track economically, but given the catastrophic mess Bush-Republicans left him with and their obstructionist-style of governance, the President has turned America around at home and on international stage. Republican campaign strategy in December was convincing Americans that the President has not achieved full employment or robust economic growth, but with unemployment falling, the economy growing, and spending at historically low levels, they are relying on any means necessary to win in November. Interestingly, the Republicans are revisiting 2008 campaign issues demonstrating their utter desperation to find anything to impugn President Obama’s character and administration.
Last week one of the many GOP super-PACs explored linking President Obama with his former spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright, whose race-related sermons ignited a wave of accusations that then-Senator Obama hated America. The $10 million plan includes tying the President to Wright, and it included preparations for responding to assertions that is it race-baiting. The PAC suggested hiring an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” The proposal says, “The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way.” It is pathetic that race is being injected into the campaign, but after three years in office, Americans understand the President is not what Republicans are portraying him as, and certainly not an incarnation of Jeremiah Wright. However, race sells to a segment of the population who already have a low opinion of the President without more drivel about the preacher of his former church. It is apparent that without anything substantial or prescient to attack President Obama with, Republicans are resorting to conspiracy theory attacks.
In Arizona, another continuing conspiracy was being used to keep the President’s name off the ballot in November. Secretary of State Ken Bennett claims repeatedly he is not a birther, but until yesterday, he was not convinced the President was born in America. Bennett released a statement yesterday that his office “received the ‘verification in-lieu of certified copy’ from officials within the Hawaii Department of Health that we requested in March. They have officially confirmed that the information in the copy of the Certificate of Live Birth for the President matches the original record in their files.” Mr. Bennett said the matter is closed and that he was following requests from “over a thousand” Arizonans who demanded the President’s birth certificate be examined, and chief among them was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Last year, a bill requiring presidential candidates to provide proof of citizenship in Arizona was vetoed because “the measure creates significant new problems while failing to do anything constructive.” Not only did the measure not do anything constructive, it was meant prevent President Obama from being on Arizona’s ballot. It is just another example of Republican attempts to defeat the President Obama and it is a troubling trend of disenfranchising voters who were inclined to vote for the President and Democrats much like the American Legislative Exchange Council’s voter suppression laws. The so-called voter-ID law sponsors claimed that there is rampant fraud during elections, but like everything issuing from Republicans, the facts prove voter fraud is another GOP lie. Mendacity has become the Republicans favorite tactic during this election cycle.
Willard Romney has made lying part and parcel of his campaign thus far, and the latest whopper is that President Obama is responsible for losing 100,000 jobs in the auto industry. In an interview last week touting his job creation record while he headed Bain Capital, Romney said, “We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs. On the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry.” The Washington Post fact-checker evaluated Romney’s claim that he created 100,000 jobs in the private sector, and they declared in January that “the claim was untenable and unproven.” The Post also fact-checked Willard’s claim that President Obama lost 100,000 automotive industry jobs and they found his assertion to be false and gave him a “repeat offender” designation for lying again and again. To make the point, in early April, Romney said “under this president’s watch, more Americans have lost their jobs than during any other period since the Depression,” and in February last year he claimed “President Obama has stood watch over the greatest job loss in modern American history, and that, my friends, is one inconvenient truth that will haunt this president throughout history.”
To reiterate, when President Obama took office, the Bush-Republican economy was shedding 750,000 jobs per month, and his economic stimulus alone created between 3 and 3.3 million jobs by the end of 2010, so just like his claim the economy is worse today than when the President was inaugurated, Romney is lying again. The Post’s fact-checker concluded that “Romney’s remarks make little sense. Not only is his claim of creating 100,000 jobs at Bain untenable, but also his assertion that 100,000 jobs have been lost in the auto industry ‘on the president’s watch‘ does not add up,” and that “no matter how you slice it, jobs overall have grown substantially in the auto industry under Obama. In fact, it is one of the bright spots of today’s economy.” Of course Romney’s claims don’t add up, but if he did not lie, he would spend the entire campaign citing the President’s job creation acumen that has put millions of Americans back to work and improved the economy.
Romney cannot assail the President’s Administration based on facts or truth, so he and his Republican cohort resorts to lying and resurrecting 2008 conspiracy theories that pander to nut-jobs and racists. Republicans have never been known for their veracity, but the level of deceit and outright lies is stunning if only because they are so easily disproven. To claim this election is going to be a dirty affair is an understatement, and it is down to Republican desperation in attacking the President based on factual data. The good news is that few Americans actually believe the economy is worse today than in January 2009, or that the President hates America based on a preacher’s sermons. It is true that Republicans and their conspiracy theorists will have some success with a specific segment of the population, but most Americans are not racists, birthers, or apt to believe Republican lies in the face of overwhelming data proving them wrong. However, that is not going to stop men like Willard Romney from lying, or GOP super-PACs from maligning the President’s character or dedication to America, because frankly, that is all they have to campaign on. The President’s record speaks for itself, and regardless of Romney’s lies or conspiracy theorists claims, it is a record he will tout all the way to November.