A slightly abridged version of this article was published on Alternet
The Republican National Convention was a rare opportunity to peer into the soul of a party that has embraced an open aversion to the truth. It was a veritable festival of falsehoods, from Paul Ryan implying that a GM plant that had shut down before President Obama was inaugurated was somehow his fault, to Mitt Romney perpetuating the myth that Obama’s health care plan had cut $700 billion from the benefits of Medicare recipients. Even the theme of last Wednesday’s program, “We Built This,” rested on a thoroughly dishonest misrepresentation of the President’s words.
Less noticed was a parade of hypocrisies that would bring shame to anyone with a modicum of self-respect. The degree of hypocritical expressions emanating from the right has reached historic proportions. It’s as if they have lost the ability to recognize the obvious contradictions they exude. Or, more likely, they simply don’t care. They are more interested in scoring political points which, unfortunately, is a deceit at which they are occasionally successful.
The hyper-hypocritical tendencies of today’s GOP has spread through the Party’s blood stream and is discernible from almost every angle. Below is a sampling of recent examples of rank hypocrisy caught gushing from the right and its most prominent proponents.
1) Hypocrisy On Health Care: Romney has promised that his first action on day one of a Romney administration would be to repeal ObamaCare. Of course, he wouldn’t have any authority to do that and attempting to pass legislation in congress would get stopped short in the Democratically-controlled senate. However, he may want to have a discussion with his running mate. It was recently disclosed that Ryan quietly applied for funding of a Wisconsin health care clinic in his district. The funds would come entirely from the Affordable Care Act that Ryan and Romney now propose to repeal. Also, after insisting that he would repeal Obamacare in its entirety, Romney told David Gregory on Meet the Press “I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. And I’m replacing it with my own plan.” Somebody needs to remind Romney that Obamacare IS his own plan, including the individual mandate.
2) Hypocrisy On Political Ads: In an interview on the Bill Bennett radio show, Mitt Romney lashed out at what he considered to be false ads by a pro-Obama Super PAC. In the course of his tirade he lamented that “in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad.” Romney said this even as he refused to pull his own ads that had been rated “Pants-on-Fire” lies by PolitiFact. Subsequently, the Romney campaign decided to abandon any pretense to honesty and declare that fact-checkers had “jumped the shark,” and that they would no longer “let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” In other words, we’ll lie if we feel like it.
3) Hypocrisy On Women: At the GOP convention in Tampa, Ann Romney gave a keynote speech wherein she saluted women saying “You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you.” It was a naked attempt to appeal to women voters with whom the GOP is having trouble connecting. However, beyond her vacant flattery she never uttered a word of support for issues of importance to women. There was no mention of equal pay, gender discrimination in the workplace, parental leave, or child welfare services like health care or nutritional programs. The only references she made to education were how fortunate her husband and children were to have the benefit of attending first-rate institutions that most Americans will never see. And the GOP platform strikes a markedly different tone by banning access to family planning services and effectively asserting that women, “the hope of America,” are not competent to make decisions about their own bodies.
4) Hypocrisy On Misogyny: The comments of GOP senate candidate Todd Akin regarding “legitimate rape” caused a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Many on the right insisted that Akin withdraw from the Missouri senate race. However, most of the criticism was directed at the harm that Akin caused to the GOP’s prospects of winning the seat, rather than to the offensive views Akin articulated. There was abundant gnashing of teeth over Akin’s stupidity for putting the election at risk, but little condemnation for what he actually said. The reason for that is that when it comes to women, the right’s policies are actually a logical conclusion of Akin’s dumb outburst. In fact, Ryan cosponsored a bill in the House with Akin that sought to redefine the term “rape” so that federal funds were unavailable for victims unless the crime was deemed “forcible,” which would have excluded many assaults that were statutory, incest, or under duress.
5) Hypocrisy On Voting: Fox News and Romney have both recently made an issue of legislation in Ohio that would remove early voting availability for all voters except those in the military. The Obama Justice Department challenged the law arguing that every voter should have early access to the polls. Romney and Fox responded by accusing the President of wanting to make it more difficult for soldiers to vote, even though the administration’s position was to make voting easier for everyone. What Romney and Fox did not say was that their position would have denied early voting to over 900,000 Ohio veterans (in addition to millions of other Ohio residents) who were not included in the GOP’s bill. [Note: An Ohio court just ruled in favor of the administration’s position, but the Ohio Secretary of State insisted that he would defy the court order to open the polls. Then, after the judge demanded the Secretary of State appear before him to explain himself, he backed down and agreed to the court’s order].
6) Hypocrisy On Tax Shelters: Mitt Romney’s problems with his financial records are well known. He continues to refuse to release his tax returns even as more evidence comes out that he has engaged in shenanigans involving off-shore banks and other tax avoidance schemes. Nevertheless, Romney had the audacity to address a group of donors and complain about big businesses that “save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world.” Apparently that’s only acceptable for wealthy presidential candidates.
7) Hypocrisy On The Economy: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Mitt Romney says “Yes.” The key issue of the Romney campaign from its inception has been his contention that the economy is in dismal shape and that it’s the President’s fault. Romney has said on numerous occasions that Obama may have inherited a troubled economy, but he made it worse. However, when asked by radio host Laura Ingraham about improving economic indicators he unflinchingly admitted “Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession.” Ingraham was stunned and gave Romney a second shot noting that he wasn’t helping his argument. Romney held firm saying “Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.” Soon after, Romney returned to falsely accusing Obama of making things worse.
8) Hypocrisy On Terrorism: While running for the GOP nomination for president in 2007, Romney was asked by reporters if he agreed with comments by then-candidate Obama that if Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan he would take action if the Pakistanis did not. Romney responded “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.” Earlier this year, on the anniversary of the death of bin Laden, who was killed by American Special Forces in Pakistan, Romney diminished the President’s role by saying that “Anybody would have made that call.” Well…not anybody.
9) Hypocrisy On The Auto Bailout: Romney was a vocal opponent of the auto industry bailout orchestrated by the Obama administration. He famously wrote an op-ed for the New York Times with the title “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.“ Fast forward a couple of years to a newly profitable and growing automobile industry and we find that Romney has shifted his position to one where he not only claims to have supported the bailout, but he considers himself responsible for its success. He told ABC News that “I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.” That’s a little like Pontius Pilate taking credit for Jesus coming back.
10) Hypocrisy On Abortion: When Romney ran for the senate in Massachusetts in 1994, he claimed to support abortion rights and punctuated his commitment to that position with a story about a close relative who died as the result of an illegal abortion. In a debate with his opponent, Ted Kennedy, Romney referenced his family’s loss and said “It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.” So Romney was once driven by his grief to make an unwavering commitment to never force his beliefs on others, but now he’s pushing for a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Is he through with grieving now? Is he comfortable with the grief that other families will suffer if his promise to repeal Roe v. Wade is fulfilled?
Hypocrisy and the Republican Party have never been far apart. They were the originators of the health care insurance mandate, but flipped to opposing it after it was proposed by a Democratic president. They supported the DREAM Act until Obama put it on the legislative agenda. Cap and trade was a GOP innovation. And the war hawks of the Republican right – Bush, Cheney, Rove, Boehner, Bolton, Limbaugh, Hannity, Kristol, Beck, etc. – never saw a day of combat. Mitt Romney, after protesting in favor of the draft to send other kids to Vietnam, avoided service via his Mormon missionary work in Paris, and received multiple academic deferments.
The lies that have been so freely disseminated by the right are a serious impediment to democracy, made worse by their arrogant persistence in lying even after having been exposed. But their hypocrisy is just as thickly applied and just as deceitful. It is emblematic of the character (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party and its spokespersons, including their leader, Mitt Romney.
Special Feature: Here are the runner-ups that didn’t make the top ten:
11) Hypocrisy On Socialism: The featured convention speeches by the Republican standard bearers contained some flowery language intended to motivate their delegates and sway voters watching at home. Some of their rhetoric, however, would not have been so well received if it had been offered by President Obama. On Wednesday Paul Ryan said that “We have responsibilities, one to another. We do not each face the world alone.” That was followed by Romney on Thursday saying “The America we know is the story of the many becoming one.” To some listeners those may sound like distinctly socialist sentiments. That sort of collectivist dialogue is commonly heard in leftist conclaves and union halls. All Obama had to say was that he favored “spreading the wealth around” and he was deemed an avid Marxist. For Rom-n-Ry to talk this way and not get branded as subversives is a bit surprising. Particularly when the Republican model of shared sacrifice is lower salaries for teachers, lower benefits for seniors, and lower taxes for millionaires.
12) Hypocrisy On Music: Paul Ryan, in an attempt to connect with a younger voting demographic, has lately been touting his rocker cred. He said that his favorite band is Rage Against the Machine. That prompted Rage guitarist Tom Morello to ask “I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of ‘Fuck the Police’?” Then Ryan told the GOP conventioneers that his iPod was stoked with songs by “youth-oriented” artists like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin that an old-timer like Mitt Romney couldn’t appreciate. What he failed to note was that his playlist seems to be dominated by bands that debuted some 40 years ago and that Romney is younger than Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page.
13) Hypocrisy On Immigration: A core part of the Fox News agenda is to demonize immigrants. Last month the Fox Nation web site featured a story about a sexual assault on a child with a headline that blared “Illegal Alien Charged with Raping 4-Year Old.” Of course, the immigration status of the alleged perpetrator is entirely irrelevant to the crime. Fox would never have published such a story identifying a white Protestant American in the headline, although that happens far more frequently. It is also interesting that Fox never posted a story with the headline “Fox News Reporter Charged with Sexual Assault on 4-year Old” when that occurred a few years ago.
14) Hypocrisy On Taxes: Mitt Romney has been campaigning mightily to disabuse voters of the notion that he is an out-of-touch multimillionaire who has benefited unfairly from his wealth and position. Nevertheless, he refuses to come clean about his taxes or his resume with Bain Capital. Part of the reason he chose Paul Ryan to join his ticket was to divert attention from these questions that have been hounding him on the campaign trail. However, he may not get the reaction he hopes. Ryan’s budget plan includes the elimination of capital gains taxes, and since that is almost the entire source of Romney’s income, it would reduce his already low (13.9%) tax rate to nearly zero (0.82%).
15) Hypocrisy On Medicare: The charge from Democrats that the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan will end the program as we know it has rankled the Romney campaign. They respond by saying that no one over the age of 55 will be affected by their reforms. Setting aside for the moment the ludicrous notion that seniors would be happy knowing that only their children would suffer the loss of benefits, Romney’s plan to repeal ObamaCare would immediately end prescription drug benefits and access to preventative care that today’s seniors are currently receiving.
And sadly, this list is still incomplete.