Not a day passes that Republicans in Congress or on the campaign trail don't find some phony premise upon which to attack the administration. It is to be expected that philosophical differences among partisans would elicit contradictory responses aimed at diminishing the clout of political adversaries. But legitimate differences shouldn't devolve into frivolous bouts of vitriol from pols determined to make a name for themselves by bringing down members of the opposition.
Apparently it has become an acceptable Republican tactic to pounce on opponents with accusations that are more appropriately identified with members of their own party. On last Sunday's Meet the Press former party leader Ed Gillespie pontificated about the president's "divisive" ways. Curiously of course the most divisive aspect of our current political framework has been the way the far right chooses to depict President Obama and his policies. The Tea Party, right-wing media and the lock-step House have all been in attack mode from the moment of Obama's candidacy to the moment of his inauguration. A lightweight like Sarah Palin criticizes the president for things about which she is embarrassingly ignorant, a fact that seems to make little difference to her devoted followers. In fact the country is beset by candidates who are similarly ignorant about the office they seek and the demands their election would make upon them. The presumptive Republican nominee is touted by his supporters as just the person to bring the country back to a solvent, profitable future. But people who tell us we need a business executive to right our economy fail to understand that our government cannot be conducted on some esoteric business principle, a plan that would lead us inevitably down the path we have just traveled to a future of ruthless corporate raiders bent on cementing their fortunes at the expense of regular folks.
The Romney approach is filled with a stunning mix of false hypotheses and outright fabrications which sound somewhat less insidious when they are called "flip-flops." But we face a candidate who doesn't have a clue about foreign affairs unless they are corporate-investment schemes - someone who still refers to Russia as "the Soviets" and the Czech Republic as "Czechoslovakia," a person who says the dopiest things about, for example, the raid that brought down Osama Bin Laden. Of course Romney suggests anyone would have decided to go after him in Pakistan, "even President Carter." Someone on his team must have told Romney that references to Carter would be a great way to attack Obama, and insisting that he would absolutely have made the same call doesn't seem to sound as ridiculous to his supporters as it does to others.
Critics on the right have no problem accusing the president of playing politics with the Bin Laden anniversary even as those of us who have a memory and videotape recall how often the Bush White House resorted to 911 recollections for the purpose of enhancing their bona fides. And not to be outdone by the Obama/Osama remembrance Romney and Giuliani marched off to the firehouse where so many firefighters lost their lives on 911 - loaded down with pizza for the fire company - nothing politically artificial about their mission of course.
Difficult as it may be to struggle through the thicket of Romney's hackneyed assertions it is our patriotic duty to persevere in that effort. Economist Paul Krugman editorializes "...has any major political figure ever premised his entire fiscal platform not just on totally implausible spending projections but on claims that he has a secret plan to raise trillions of dollars in revenue." Like the Paul Ryan budget Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center refers to as the "mystery meat budget" arcane and secretive proposals fail to deal with the reality of our condition.
Political campaigns should at the very least provide voters with something approaching the truth instead of engaging in jingoistic nonsense and self-serving ego trips. So far Romney has proven himself to be high on his own hype.