The contrast between the two conventions has been stark. It hasn't been entirely the quality of oratory. The policies proposed have been overshadowed by two measures of the arguments made to support them. The aspects of Republican argument that were nearly absent were acknowledgement of actual history and fidelity to the truth.
The elephant not in the huge elephant hall was the last person who was the most powerful individual in the free world. Republican President George W. Who is the man who never was. He is the one Texas citizen most likely to be jailed for voting without adequate proof of identity. Nobody thinks he ever existed. More invisible than the former President was any authorship of policy in the 8 years after he was sworn in and before he left office. During the Republican convention, Bush policies, with President Bush airbrushed out of the picture, were put on steroids and offered as if they were part of a new epiphany.
So history was not the Republican strong point this year. If accomplishments of the past were not on the agenda, what was?
News media trying to fulfill their journalistic standard of holding all sides to be of equal honesty were sweating so much each one's entire face, except for the eyes, seemed to cry on television. Early last week, news from the fact checking ghetto of some organizations actually began bleeding into actual coverage.
By the time Clint Eastwood debated the imaginary President that exists in the fevered imaginations of conservatives, the trickle of fact-checking threatened to become a flood flowing over the levees. Reporters struggled to hold back those fact-Nazis, obsessed as they were with accuracy. As every journalist knows, fairness is not the equal application of standards of truth. Instead, it is carefully measured equal and opposite criticism. Ten minutes criticizing one side must be followed by ten minutes of on-the-other-hand attack on something from the other side.
One exchange at CNN became iconic as CNN's Wolf Blitzer struggled to maintain balance. After calling Paul Ryan's presentation "a powerful speech," Blitzer gave a brief nod to content. “I marked at least seven or eight points I’m sure the fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute if they want to go forward, I’m sure they will.” He assured the audience that fact checkers would find similar inaccuracies in speeches by Democrats, a sort of verdict-before-evidence Queen of Hearts mental process.
President Obama's policies were blamed for plant closures that happened before he took office, closures that happened under the policies of a recent Republican President, one whose name must not be spoken. How could this be justified? According to the campaign, it was because the current President has not yet reopened some of the plants closed under the previous President, whoever he was.
Workfare policies were attacked for being the opposite of what they really are. An attack ad says: "On July 12th, Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare. You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job." The accusation that President Obama ended work requirements were repeated during the Republican convention by one speaker after another, including the candidate for Vice President.
In actuality, when Republican governors asked for flexibility allowing them to set work rules, the Obama administration went along, on condition more recipients were put onto payrolls. The Republican justification for that departure from truth, as explained later to reporters, was conservative faith that eventually eliminating work requirements is what Obama secretly has in mind. After all, he is a liberal.
The apology tour that never was, the "you never built that business" which was never said, was all justified by breitbarting what had actually been actually said into something quite different.
For news organizations, casting the direct opposite of the truth as anything other than a lie proved to be a challenge. As falsehoods were repeated numerous times after the truth had come out, CNN was forced to put their top professionals to work at creative euphemisms. Other media news outlets found themselves similarly oppressed by the new workload.
The falsehoods became too much for some news efforts. Variations of the word "false" occasionally began creeping into leading paragraphs, and sometimes into headlines. It is hard to be accurate without reporting the truth, when falsehoods are so blatant.
The falsehoods themselves are a latent confession of weakness. The real case for Republicans is difficult to make in a truthful way. Sometimes it is made indirectly:
You see, Democrats have been in office for four years and have not ended economic hardship. They should learn to take responsibility and stop blaming those who have done this to us.
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