Romney World’s Freedom from Fact

Exclusive: The Republican National Convention offered a look into one alternate future for America, a place where the ultimate liberty is to be fact-free. Mitt Romney’s campaign set sail confidently toward that future trusting that a plurality of Americans who will vote (or be allowed to vote) is onboard, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Perhaps it was inevitable when you combine the Republican “do-anything-to-win” strategies, honed from the days of Richard Nixon, with the Right’s vast media machine, built over the past several decades, that America would have a campaign like the one waged by Mitt Romney and a GOP convention like the one just completed in Tampa.

In a speech to the 1988 Republican National Convention, President Ronald Reagan blundered in quoting John Adams’s famous remark that “facts are stubborn things,” except that it came out of Reagan’s mouth as “facts are stupid things.” Reagan’s mangled quote would have fit nicely at the GOP convention 24 years later.

A t-shirt from Mitt Romney's campaign. (Photo credit: mittromney.com)

Today’s Republicans appear to have decided that facts are also irrelevant things. While it’s true that all campaigns spin the truth somewhat and pounce on clumsy remarks from rivals, the Romney campaign has not only ventured outside the traditional boundaries but has set up a permanent settlement there.

The GOP convention had the feel of a cult meeting in which everyone agrees on the same false premises. Speaker after speaker reprised President Barack Obama’s out-of-context quote – “you didn’t build that” – accompanied by endless Republican signage and t-shirts. Everyone with a brain knew that Obama’s “that” wasn’t a reference to a person’s business but to the roads, bridges and infrastructure – indeed, the American system of public-private cooperation dating back to the Founding – that help businesses succeed.

But the speakers and the delegates had to act as if they believed the lie that has become a centerpiece of Mitt Romney’s campaign, that Obama meant that no businessman actually built a business. Similarly, everyone had to believe that Obama had eliminated the work requirements in welfare reform though they also had to know that his administration had simply responded to a bipartisan appeal from state governors to give them greater flexibility in implementing the work-requirement law.

Indeed, looking in at the Republican convention was like peering into a bizarre alternate reality where all the people accept lies as truth. Acceptance of the fabrications seemed something of a prerequisite to be in the cult. Anyone who would dare to point out the “you-didn’t-build-that” distortion or expose the lie about gutting welfare reform would have been identified as a heretic.

So, speaker after speaker repeated the lies and delegate upon delegate cheered the lies. There was almost a pride and defiance in the lying and the cheering, as if the Republicans were in a full-throated rebellion against what one of George W. Bush’s aide’s once derided as the “reality-based community.”

An Anti-Reality Coalition

What may be qualitatively different now is the quantitative acceptance of this contempt for reality by so many Americans. This “anti-reality” coalition, which has grown steadily over the past several decades, may now be close to a plurality, at least among those Americans who are likely to vote (or be allowed to vote) in November.

Sign from the Romney campaign. (Photo credit: mittromney.com)

That also appears to be the calculation of the Romney campaign whose strategists sense that the United States has reached – and possibly gone past – a tipping point into a political world contemptuous of empiricism and science. Their confidence is buttressed by the growing American distrust toward settled matters of science, from evolution to climate change.

It’s there, too, in the racist conspiracy theory about Obama’s birthplace, an ugly and baseless suspicion that Romney revived with a “joke” just before the convention when he told a crowd in Michigan that “no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”

Though mainstream pundits were quick to make excuses for Romney – NBC’s Tom Brokaw, for instance, insisted that it was just a clumsy joke – Romney’s “birther” reference coincided with his strategists explaining how they were trying to bolster Romney’s lead among white, working-class men.

For Romney to offer a wink that he shares the doubts of millions of “birthers” that Obama isn’t “a real American” fits neatly with his campaign’s broader strategy, which also includes bogus claims that virtually non-existent voter fraud justifies strict (and often arbitrary) voter ID laws that everyone knows are designed to suppress the votes of black, Hispanics and the poor – to give white votes greater weight.

Shutting Up Truth-Tellers

While Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the powerful right-wing media predictably support this inverse reality of Romney World, the timid mainstream press mostly shields Romney from the obvious – and distasteful – conclusion that his presidential campaign has evolved into a foul brew of blatant lies, race-baiting and Jim Crow-style voter suppression.

In the name of “balance,” the “centrist” press often flips over backward. For example, the New York Times’ TV critic Alessandra Stanley took to task the liberal commentators at MSNBC for using tough language in assessing dishonest claims by Romney and other Republicans. Stanley went so far as to suggest that the MSNBC crew should be muzzled.

“You can agree with everything that Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz say on MSNBC and still oppose their right to say it,” Stanley wrote in Friday’s editions. “Especially when they and their hyped-up panelists shout that Republican claims are ‘lies,’ or Chris Matthews says that Republicans view welfare recipients as ‘looters.’”

In an earlier America, you might have expected the New York Times to phrase that opening sentence differently, i.e. “you can disagree with everything said by Maddow and Schultz and still support their right to say it.” Now, journalists using accurate, albeit harsh, language is an excuse to shut them up.

Stanley further dismissed MSNBC’s reporting on the Republican convention as “counterprogramming, not coverage,” adding that “all that arch sarcasm and partisan brio may rev up the cable channel’s fans, but it constrains – and stains – NBC News, its corporate sibling.” In other words, she’s wants the execs at NBC’s HQ to crack down.

Yet, what is a journalist supposed to do when one political party or one candidate decouples almost entirely from the real world? Presumably, the Times’ TV critic would have journalists simply nod their heads and pass on lies as truth, all in the name of some twisted notion of “objectivity” which denies the existence of objective fact.

However, even some of the Times’ reporters were chafing under the endless lies and distortions coming out of the Republican convention. In a “Check Point” column, Michael Cooper cited a litany of fact-bending moments in vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech on Wednesday and Romney’s on Thursday.

“The two speeches – peppered with statements that were incorrect or incomplete – seemed to signal the arrival of a new kind of presidential campaign, one in which concerns about fact-checking have been largely set aside,” Cooper wrote.

Among the misleading statements in the speeches, Cooper noted that Ryan omitted that he helped kill the deficit-reduction recommendations that he blamed Obama for not enacting; that he sought the same $716 billion savings from Medicare that he faulted Obama for seeking; and that he shared the blame for the political impasse that led to last year’s U.S. credit downgrade while pointing the finger at Obama.

Cooper’s article also cited many false or misleading claims in Romney’s speech, such as assertions that Obama’s policies had “not helped create jobs”; that the President had gone on an “apology tour” for America; and that Obama’s Medicare cuts would “hurt today’s seniors” – although such claims have been repeatedly debunked.

Revisionist History

But the speeches by Romney and Ryan were even more divorced from reality than those specifics would indicate. More broadly, they presented a revisionist history of the last three-plus years during which Republicans supposedly had united behind President Obama to solve America’s economic crisis.

For instance, Romney said, “Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.

“When that hard-fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have – optimistic and positive and confident in the future. That very optimism is uniquely American.”

But what Romney omitted was that even as the yard signs were coming down and the TV ads were ending, the Republican partisanship was just getting started. Despite the fact that the nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression – after eight years of a Republican presidency – the Republicans marched in virtual lockstep to block or frustrate Obama’s programs to fix the economy and to get Americans back to work.

Indeed, the two acceptance speeches could be viewed as the culmination of the Republican strategy to sabotage Obama’s presidency from its very first moments. Ignoring the painful hangover from George W. Bush’s Republican reckless policies, Romney and Ryan instead blamed Obama for almost everything that has gone wrong, including Ryan faulting Obama for the shutdown of a General Motors plant in Wisconsin which ceased assembly-line production before Obama was sworn in.

For his part, Romney asserted in a syrupy voice, “I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept.

“Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something. Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, ‘I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!’”

Hostage-Takers Win

Essentially, the Romney-Ryan ticket is asking the American people to comply with the take-the-economy-hostage strategy that the Republicans began in 2009 when they deployed the Senate filibuster, the Right’s media power and every other available means to prevent Obama from carrying out his policies. Then, to reclaim power, the Republicans relied on the pain and impatience of the American people.

“America has been patient,” Romney said. “Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page. Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us. To put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations. To forget about what might have been and to look ahead to what can be.”

However, Romney, like Ryan, offered only generalities about how a return to Republican governance would help the broader American public. Romney simply painted the picture of a glorious future of plentiful jobs, energy independence, lower taxes and lower deficits if he is elected – and only more suffering if Obama wins a second term.

“To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this: if Barack Obama is re-elected, you will be right,” Romney said.

The Republican nominee also inserted a mocking reference to the threat of global warming and suggested that Americans should place their short-term well-being ahead of the long-term viability of the planet. Romney said, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise (pause) is to help you and your family.”

Romney also vowed to return to a more muscular foreign policy, like the one pursued by the neocons during George W. Bush’s presidency.

“Every American is less secure today because [Obama] has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat,” Romney said. “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.”

In many ways, Mitt Romney’s World resembles George W. Bush’s World. Both are fantasylands where the many challenges facing the American people can be solved with more tax cuts tilted to the rich; with more deregulation regardless of the damage to the environment and to the financial system; with more military bluster directed against adversaries everywhere, and with more demands for a national unity that was systematically denied to President Obama.

Like Bush’s World, Romney’s World also is a place where reality is demonized, where loyal Americans are separated from disloyal ones based on whether they embrace fiction as fact. It is a place where ignorance is celebrated and bigotry is okay.

While having similarities to previous Republican worldviews that brought the GOP to power – from Ronald Reagan’s voodoo economics in 1980 to George H.W. Bush’s “flag factory” and “Willie Horton” campaign in 1988 to George W. Bush’s “restore honor and decency” approach in 2000 – Romney’s campaign style has the look of a refined model made possible by the decades-long expansion of the right-wing media that has conditioned Americans to Orwellian absurdities.

In Romney’s World, the happy citizens will enjoy the ultimate in liberty; they will be fact-free.

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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10 comments on “Romney World’s Freedom from Fact

  1. Mitt Romney plans to put curse on the Americans who killed his Lord Joseph Smith aka “The King of Jews”.

    Mormon and modern Zionist Jews are two faces of the same evil coin. Over a century before other churches began to rethink traditional Christian (mis-) understandings of Jews and Judaism, LDS leaders not only saw Judaism in a positive light, they even sent a mission to Palestine to bless the land that it might receive the Jewish people back.

    The best known and most influential Mormons in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s were Senators William King and Elbert Thomas, both Democrats from Utah. Both men were fervent Christian Zionists.

    Thomas had visited Jerusalem in 1912. According to his diary, he sat on the Mount of Olives and read from the writings of early Mormon leader Orson Hyde about the Jews: “Consecrate this land for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long. Restore the kingdom unto Israel, raise up Jerusalem as its capitol.”

    King, for his part, was one of the founding members of the American Palestine Committee, an organization set up in the 1930s to rally Christian support for Jewish statehood.

    The fanatic Jew Zionist Benzion Netanyahu and his son Benjamin Netanyahu have also maintained close relations with Mormon leaders including Mitt Romney. Benzion was such a fanatic Zionist Jew that Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion refused to take him to Knesset. According to Ben-Gurion’s diary, Benzion had close contacts with Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, and former President Nixon. Ben-Gurion wote in his diary: “ Benzion believes that our public-relations mechanism in the US is weak and he is offering his services. He will get a year’s leave from the encyclopedia. His cover will be that he will be lecturing at some university. His subject is Jewish history. He wrote a book on Abarbanel. We must set up a non-Jewish team: from among the most important authors, journalists, congressmen. We need to acquire those who hate us – or at least make them neutral. For the first half a year we might be called upon to provide about a quarter of a million dollars. Later he will find money in America itself. There is no value in appearances by Zionist Jews. American figures are needed, and it is necessary that it not be felt in the least that this entity has ties to the state of Israel, but in practice it has to answer to the Prime Minister’s Office, because propaganda has to adapt itself to policy“.

    In 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion Netanyahu, told Channel 2′s political correspondent Amit Segal: “People think the Holocaust ended. The Holocaust did not end. It continues all the time“. Professor Norman Finkelstein’s mother agrees with that statement. However, she told her son that the victims are Palestinians and the Nazis are Israeli Jews, in present day (The Holocaust Industry).

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/08/27/barak-iranian-threat-a-sword-on-our-neck/

  2. Kenny Fowler on said:

    Romney’s team has cobbled together this fantasy reality campaign. Possibly the weakest since Dukakis. The big problem is Romney’s empty head. He’s just not that bright, wait till the “debates”. He’ll end up doing lot’s of snarling and not answering questions. He’s an idiot, that’s all he’s got.

    • That’s not true. his head is full of ideas on how to fix Obama’s policies… it’s just that the plans are identical solutions except he wants to magically do it without tax revenues to actually pay the bill.

      The Romney slogan should be “Freedom isn’t Free, unless you’re talking about taxing me”

  3. F. G. Sanford on said:

    “President Ronald Reagan blundered in quoting John Adams’s famous remark that “facts are stubborn things,” except that it came out of Reagan’s mouth as “facts are stupid things.””

    He was showing early signs of senile dementia even then. The Republicans don’t care if their candidate is senile, delusional or just an outright con-artist. As long as he supports policies which will dispossess the objects of their hatred, it’s OK. They envision themselves as the “us” against “them”. They continue to vote against their own self-interests out of spite for the poor and minorities, while failing to realize those policies will eventually engulf them too. If I were President Obama, I think I would be secretly coveting defeat. Why not let the inevitable train-wreck happen on Romney’s watch? America needs a good dose of what it wishes for, so that we can finally get off the lunatic religion and hate issues and start using common sense and reason. Romney, and especially Ryan, are sure to provide an answer to all their fundamentalist prayers! Let’s see how they feel about “faith-based” solutions then. It would be “legitimate rape” of their “family values”!

  4. Romney claiming that Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. Whereas, Obama has done everything in his power to please Israel. Ostensibly, this aristocrat dunce, Romney, wants to deed America to Israel. He can’t do that and we won’t let them do that. If he loves Israel so much, he can go and live in Israel.
    Oh, by the way, if he intends to open war of aggression against Iran for Israel, he better send his own bundles of joy, his precious kids, to fight their daddy’s war.

  5. Romney, if elected, will return the days of George W. Bush on steroids. Matt Taibbi has an excellent article on how Romney made his millions in Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829) That this man might be the president is a scary thought.

  6. Paula Martin on said:

    And Romney and Ryan stated their intention to bring federal workers pay in line with the private sector pay. Post Office employees have been a prime target for a hostile take over by commercial interests set up by Congress in2006 when the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was passed mandating that the USPS fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10 at 5.5 Billion yearly.
    The following videos point to how some members of Congress are working to privatize the Post Office with low paid workers and less service to the public.
    The Post Office is the 2nd largest employer in the US. If the unions are broken here it doesn’t bode well for other workers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09ybkkiH2Ho
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am4wez1ShPY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsPIY9bFFZY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-chx0j3_8IU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mF_P0c1eNo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRcBoDSfisg

    And even the Postmaster Generalgets into the picture

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDJNamOGSes

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