Paul Ryan ended the one and only vice presidential debate last week just as he began it, conveniently stepping on the facts.
Ryan stepped on the facts when, referring to Gov. Romney, he asked, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?” It’s widely known that, when Romney left the governorship of his state back in 2007, Massachusetts scored in 47th place in job creation.
And, again, on Iran, Rep. Ryan stepped on the facts when he characterized Iran as “racing towards a nuclear weapon.” Vice President Biden called him out on it. Biden laughed and said, rightly, “Iranians are a good way away from getting a nuclear weapon. There is no weapon that the Iranians have now. What is all this bluster?”
What is all this bluster indeed?
The man who would be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office laments the Obama administration’s effort to address the imploding deficit by making much-needed cuts to defense. Instead, Mr. Ryan and his sidekick, Cool Hand Mitt, want to increase defense spending by $2 trillion. Yes, $2 trillion, which is what some economists estimate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over the past decade, have added to the deficit. Deficit hawk Ryan gave a big thumbs-up to both wars.
Adding insult to injury, during the debate, he also adds that he and Romney “are for peace, too.” Well, show me the math, pal. How can any candidate for any elected office have the chutzpah to insult the intelligence of American voters with a bold faced lie like that one.
When Ryan says, “That’s what we have to do. We have to change their (Iran’s) mind,” how does he plan to do so? If grueling economic sanctions that the current administration has applied, sanctions so severe that protestors took to the streets of Tehran in desperation, weren’t enough, what’s left? Boots on the ground? Fighter jets in the air? Occupying and pummeling Tehran in much the same way their immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, occupied and pummeled Iraq only to discover later that there were no “weapons of mass destruction.”
Listen up, folks. When Joe Biden says that Iran “doesn’t have a weapon to put the uranium into,” and is years away from getting one, he is telling the truth. Remember this if Cool Hand Mitt prevails in November air strikes start in Iran; a virtual certainty. Remember that a sitting vice president called out his opponent out when Ryan said, “We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon.” The “nuclear weapon” in Iran talk is equal to the talk of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
Joe Biden is right when he says, “Facts matter, Martha.” Indeed, they do and, at the end of the day, facts will defeat the GOP ticket, but the president and his team must continue to hammer away at the facts.
The fact is, as the vice president said, “Big nations can’t bluff. This president doesn’t bluff.” Mr. Obama didn’t bluff when he said he was going to end the war in Iraq. Mr. Obama didn’t bluff when he said he was going to deal a death blow to al Qaeda by taking down Osama bin Laden. Mr. Obama didn’t bluff when he said that he wasn’t going to war with Iran. Mr. Obama didn’t bluff when he said he was winding down the war in Afghanistan.
The president wasn’t bluffing either when he took over stewardship of General Motors, thereby saving the company, and the auto industry, from bankruptcy. Paul Ryan had to be kidding when he said “Mitt Romney’s a car guy.” Fact is, as you know, Gov. Romney argued for letting Detroit go bankrupt. Romney’s a car guy, all right. His father was the president of American Motors. The closest Mitt Romney ever came to being a “car guy” was sitting on his daddy’s lap in their Bentley.
Biden is right, too, to call Ryan on another platitude, “We’re witnessing the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.” What unraveling? To the contrary, we’re witnessing the deliberate, and carefully orchestrated unraveling of the George W. Bush foreign policy. It was George W. Bush who ran up the deficit by making American taxpayers finance two wars.
Imagine the unmitigated arrogance of anyone who runs for office in 2012, and says “the Russia reset isn’t working.” Reset? What reset? Who gives the U.S. the power to reset the internal affairs of sovereign countries? I know Mr. Ryan was too young to realize this, but the Cold War is over. Romney should know better.
There will be no international cooperation in foreign affairs with a Romney/Ryan ticket when Ryan can come out with the statement that the U.S is “outsourcing our foreign policy to the United Nations.” Joe Biden was right to call that “bizarre.”
Yes, Mr. Ryan likes to think of himself as a practicing Catholic, especially when he argues that “life begins at conception.” What he neglects to mention is it ends there, too. Don’t believe me? Ask a hundred or so Catholic theologians and nuns who, according to The Huffington Post, have called on Ryan to “heed the church’s social teachings,” and not run roughshod over this nation’s safety net. One group of Catholic nuns has even gone so far as to start a bus tour through the pivotal state of Ohio to highlight social service agencies the Church has helped which could be devastated by Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts.
Mr. Ryan has yet to explain how he intends to cut taxes by 20% across the board and, at the same time, also cut the deficit. Neither he nor Gov. Romney has said which “loopholes,” (read “entitlements”), will subject to a demolition squad in their quixotic attempt to balance the books, something at which the Clinton administration excelled, and something that Mr. Romney was unable to do as governor of Massachusetts without, of course, a bit of help from the federal government.
Yes, yes, Paul Ryan was generally right when he said “If you don’t have a record to run on, you take down the record of your opponent,” but it’s kind of sad to witness that kind of self-deprecation on prime time television. Truth is, Mr. Ryan, the president has a record to run on, and a damn good one. He saved the auto industry. Unemployment in many states has gone down. Okay, so not in Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania is not the only state. The U.S. has not invaded Iran, Syria, N. Korea, and participated in a coalition effort to take down Gaddafi.
Ultimately, the Romney/Ryan campaign will hang upside down on the truth. Two four letter words that will prove damning to their campaign are “fact,” and “math.”
So, back to this “job creator” thingy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July, the Obama administration is averaging +0.84% annual job growth as compared with -85% in George W. Bush’s final term.
Fact is, the Obama administration has turned job growth from a minus into a plus, and a return to the GOP policies of yore is guaranteed to put us back in the minus column again.
In these final few weeks before the election, the Romney campaign had better get their truth infusions, or the campaign and its platform will be launched if not to Mars then into obscurity for generations to come.
Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.