Sep 2012 05

by Steven Whitney

In our first two Presidential elections, George Washington ran unopposed, with no affiliation to any Party, even though a multi-party system composed of Federalists, Anti-Federalists and the Democratic-Republican Party – yes, they were one united Party back then – was forming quickly, with each party eager to recruit him. But Washington felt it imperative to ensure the people that his first allegiance was to the country and not to any political party. . . and so he ran as a “Non-Partisan.”

Since our country was brand spanking new, urgent issues and conflicts sprang up at every turn. Under other labels, conservatives and liberals jousted for position and, as today, fiercely disagreed on the course the government should take. But guiding them all in those early days was a President whose very bipartisanship allowed the various factions to join together to construct a nation built on freedoms that otherwise might tear our democracy apart.

How were they able to do that? How did they manage to put personal and political issues to the side so they could “provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare” and secure for the populace the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” – without political parties, agendas, ideologies, and platforms?

At the birth of our nation, political factions came and went, howling like low winds on the Chesapeake Bay. Instead of trusting in parties, voters trusted men proven to be of good character. Our first three Presidents – Washington, Adams, and Jefferson – held wildly conflicting moral, philosophical, and political views. Yet they were elected in succession because each had a strong character that had firmly won the faith and trust of the people.

That’s all – just Character, with a capital C.

Of course, today no man or woman can ascend to the Presidency without the backing of a political party, or without hundreds of millions of campaign dollars. But that should not preclude the importance of evaluating character at the ballot box. Isn’t that the first thing we should ask for and vet in candidates – that they possess good characters?

So let’s measure Romney, Ryan, and the RNC against the cornerstone of good character on which almost everyone agrees – honesty.

On its simplest level, honesty is merely telling the truth and avoiding deceit. On this score, the GOP and its candidates scored an unprecedented low with one lie and deceit after another. Even Fox News, the media arm of the Republican Party and not usually concerned about letting facts get in the way of agenda, was absolutely gob-smacked by the outrageous lies and deceptions delivered by their Vice-Presidential candidate: “…to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.” Again – that’s Fox News!

Ryan deliberately misquoted the President on private sector success, reproached him for closing a GM plant in Wisconsin (it closed under Bush), called him the “biggest threat to Medicare” (when, in fact, Mr. Ryan’s “budget” claims that dishonor), and also blamed the S&P downgrade of America’s credit rating on Obama. To the contrary, when Standard & Poor’s made the downgrade, it clearly stated the reason: “We have changed our assumption…because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” Could S&P have targeted the blame any more precisely?

Ryan even lied about his personal accomplishments, saying he ran a marathon in 2 hours and 50 seconds. But according to his own brother, Ryan didn’t break 4 hours.

Not a big thing? Okay, but then why lie about it? Especially if he wants to be seen as an average Joe, the 4-hour mark is much more in keeping with the norm.

Back in 2000, the GOP loudly accused Al Gore of lying about “inventing the internet.” But Gore never said that – what he did say was that he was a strong supporter and initiator of the web in the Congress that funded and sustained its invention. So if Bush’s campaign made such a big deal about a so-called lie from Gore that they just made up, are we supposed to sit back now and accept real and numerous lies from Republicans just because they say it’s so?

Over this past weekend, Crooks & Liars released a well-documented list of 533 different lies Mr. Ryan told in just 30 weeks, which has to come close to the world record touted for him by Fox News.

But it’s not only the lies, Ryan also has been extremely deceptive since being tapped for V.P. But he’s still no match for Romney, the king of deception. Romney released only one year of tax information – and that was incomplete. He steadfastly refuses to release any more, saying the opposition would only use it as “ ammunition.” Ammunition for what? If his tax record is clean, there would be no evidence of wrongdoing. Ammunition could be used only if it’s found that he was part of the 2009 Swiss Bank Tax Evasion Scandal, or if he’s hiding even more money overseas, or if he paid no taxes for a number or years (as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested), or any one of a number of questionable and even malfeasant transactions. No one worries about ammunition unless there’s a smoking gun hidden somewhere – and yet both Ann and Mitt have stated repeatedly that they don’t want to give their opponents any ammunition. Doesn’t it sound like they’re afraid that releasing more tax returns would explode in Mitt’s face and shoot dead any chance of being elected? That’s what ammunition does, isn’t it?

But Mitt is the Crown Prince of Avoidance. Ask him about his healthcare plan and he says he won’t reveal the specifics until after the election. It’s the same with his tax and budget plans (although we can surmise that they don’t stray too far from his running mate’s). He details nothing, by implication saying “Trust me,” even as he gives us nothing to base trust upon. Whenever they’re asked for specifics, his campaign says only that if a voter really wants to research the issue, he/she can find all the information they need. Which leads to the question: if experienced political journalists can’t find the specifics – and they haven’t – how can the average voter? But then, the sentiment exactly echoes Queen Ann’s statement about releasing more than one year of incomplete tax returns: “we’ve released all the information you people need to know” (italics mine).

Is this a crime syndicate taking the 5th in front of the American people or a political party trying to get elected in the absolutely worst way possible?

Doesn’t honesty – or at least the kind of honesty that leads to trust and transparent governing – start with full and truthful disclosure? If so, then Romney, Ryan, and almost the entire cast of the Republican National Convention fail the test by a large margin. Indeed, the lies, avoidances, and deceptions during the RNC were so numerous and shameless it appeared as if the GOP was celebrating National Liars’ Week. And that they didn’t care if the whole world knew. Romney’s press secretary Neil Newhouse even admitted as much when he said: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Or facts, one has to conclude.

In the best of all possible worlds, men and women of good character cultivate their political garden with truth, allowing them to govern compassionately, fairly and responsibly. They do not hold the electorate in contempt by telling constant and contemptible lies. On every level they respect the people – all the people, not just the rich who can buy their way into influence.

Although informed by the past and present, elections are always about who will govern in the future. And those of good character know that a successful – and especially, democratic – future cannot be built upon a platform of lies.

This November, voters across America must not only cast Republicans out of office but also leave their party in ruins.


Because the GOP needs to be effectively reminded that our nation was created on the principles of truth that George Washington and our founders espoused. . . and not based upon lies that rob our country and its leaders of credibility, integrity, and, yes, good character.

The truth still matters.

Related Posts:
The Do-Damage Congress: Who’s Responsible?
Worse Than A Do Nothing Congress
Forget The Barbeque On Labor Day – It’s Time To Take Care Of Business
Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.


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