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        Volume 11 |Issue 35| September 07, 2012 |


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Writing the Wrong

The Not So Good,
The Abysmally Bad,
and the Hopeful

Sharbari Ahmed

Barack Obama

I didn't watch the Republican National Convention. I didn't feel like watching misogynists, crooks and con artists read lies from a prompter. If I wanted to do that, I would get set up by an online dating service that also offered public speaking lessons. I only tuned in for Clint Eastwood, a man I loved deeply, who, I believed stood for something. The man is well respected, legitimately talented and an icon. But now I need to retire the pedestal I put him on, as he talks to empty chairs. I guess age has finally caught up with him. I am all for quirkiness and taking creative risks to drive home an imperative point, but Eastwood's “empty chair interview” was bordering on the bizarre and is emblematic of the Presidential Campaign the GOP has decided to run. The words that come to mind are, “delusional” and “built on thin air, a mere illusion of decency and reality”.

Every election year is fraught with accusations, counter accusations, mud slinging and various divisive tactics. Each side bends the truth or tells their version of it. Political campaigns remind me of a bit of dialogue between Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in one of my favorite movies of all time (mainly because I fancy myself the Keaton character) “Something's Gotta Give”. Keaton has fallen in love with aging playboy Nicholson, who has managed to avoid intimacy and love for most of his adult life by sweet-talking every woman he comes across. He tells Keaton, “I never lied to you. I always told you some version of the truth.” Keaton stares at him, incredulous, for a beat and then cries, “The truth doesn't HAVE versions!”

No truer words have been spoken. And I hope the American people understand that. But I am not sure that they do. Given the polls.

Romney's running mate Paul Ryan is very handsome, a literal “blue eyed boy”. I am not the most politically savvy person so I perceive this guy as appearing out of; you guessed it, THIN AIR! What the hell does he stand for? Who the hell is he? It's scary. I know Romney is not in his dotage and appears healthy but what if he gets elected, trips on his words (as he often does) and lapses into a coma? Then this fellow, who I KNOW does not know where Bangladesh is, is going to run America? Or will he be more like a Dan Quayle? Remember him? The elder Bush's VEEP, who once, while visiting Latin America, famously lamented not being able to speak Latin? He was eventually relegated to ribbon cuttings at State Fairs towards the end. I am assuming the same line of reasoning that brought Quayle on board is what is at work here. Attach a pretty, white boy to the ticket, a vision of American male wholesomeness and you have the female vote in the can! I guess also he is in no position to question the Commander in Chief's authority or policies. There will not be any real political or ideological engagement between Romney's West Wing and the Veep's office, as Ryan is probably just happy to sit at the grown up table.

The problem is the blue-eyed boy is a green-eyed liar. He lies about dumb stuff like running a marathon under 3 hours! A factoid that is so easy to check, it also indicates to me that he isn't even a smart liar. The guy, without breaking a sweat, told a journalist he ran a sub-three marathon. Turns out it was more like 4 hours!

Paul Ryan

This shows a definite lack of integrity in the simplest possible way. But more egregious lies have escaped this brain trust's lips. Lies that some people, are actually buying.

According to a petition by one Brenda Witt that is making the rounds, calling for mainstream media to investigate and call Ryan, Romney and the GOP out on the blatant falsehoods they are perpetuating, the following are only some of the bull that is being flung about:

1. Lie: President Obama is the "greatest threat" to Medicare.

Truth: Obama didn't make any cuts to Medicare benefits; he made cuts to provider reimbursements, to improve cost efficiency and extend the fiscal security of Medicare by eight years. According to the Medicare actuary, "[Obama's] Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook."1

But Ryan actually does want to cut benefits. He proposed dismantling Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system, leaving millions of seniors to come up with more money to pay for care out of pocket.

2. Lie: President Obama didn't save a General Motors plant in Wisconsin.

Truth: First, Obama wasn't even in office when the GM plant closed. Second, Obama never made a promise to save it.

3. Lie: Ryan wants to protect the "weak."

Truth: Ryan's biggest feat in his political career was proposing a budget with dramatic cuts to programmes benefiting the poor. He'd cut Medicaid by one third, take away health care insurance from 30 million Americans, and cut Pell Grants for 1 million students. All so that he could give more tax breaks to the rich.

Romney and Ryan's camp are pulling numbers out of the air and falling back on the old standby, questioning Obama's “Americanness”. What is worrisome is that Romney is not trailing Obama in the polls, but dogging him instead. This means that a large enough segment of the population is willing to overlook the lies. The GOP made it clear at the convention that they did not believe that women had the right to abortions or that gay people had the right to marry. Their platform is built on stripping citizens of their rights, yet Obama and Romney are neck and neck. *According to a Reuters /IPSOS poll they are split 45%/45% amongst likely voters. Further, according to Huffington Post, Obama is ahead by only 40 electoral votes. The good news is this is on the heels of the Republican Convention. Usually after a party's convention their popularity spikes, and that has not happened in this case. Thursday is the Dem's convention. By the time you read this, the mystery surprise guest will have been revealed (and here's hoping George, as in Clooney, yup that's MY prediction, either him or Oprah, will not try to dance with a broom and pretend it's Anne Romney) and Obama will have taken to the podium to accept his party's nomination. Here's hoping it snaps America to attention.

*The Globe and Mail (Canada)


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