Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What the first night of the GOP convention tells us

The most interesting thing about the GOP convention's first day isn't what was said but what wasn't.

First, of course, was the fact that Ron Paul and his supporters were shut out completely. Even votes for Ron Paul weren't announced from the podium. This is an authoritarian party whose constant talk of Freedom evidently means "Freedom for me, not for thee."

Second is that parties usually run on their track records--their record of accomplishments from the last time they controlled the Federal government. The nation's president from that time would have a featured place in the convention. The accomplishments would be touted.

Instead, if you watched the proceedings, as I held my nose & did, you would think it was a mystery who the last Republican president was. His name wasn't mentioned by any speaker. Not once. And you'd think it was a mystery who ran the country from 2000-2008. That wasn't that long ago, was it?

You wouldn't know who went to war with the wrong country (OK, we all make mistakes) and thus cost us trillions (yes, in the long run, trillions) of dollars and thousands of American lives.

You wouldn't know how the deficit got so large (a strong plurality of the national debt is Republican tax cuts that were put on the national credit card instead of being paid for by reducing the size of government).

You wouldn't know why America was already in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression at the moment Obama took office. They didn't even bother to try to attribute that to the Democrats somehow engineering this during the time the Republicans controlled all three branches of government (and if they did, doesn't that make the Republicans incredibly incompetent?).

You also wouldn't know that the U.S. Senate's rules enable the minority party to block legislation and appointments unless the majority party has not a majority but a huge supermajority of votes--and even there, the ability of the Republican's super-rich patrons to flood any state-level election with advertising for a month before elections can be and is used to intimidate Democratic politicians in purple districts from voting with the Democratic majority.

And you wouldn't know that the Presidency isn't the King-ency. Presidents can't enact laws. They have a lot of scope in terms of foreign policy, but with domestic policy Congress calls the shots. And even with the nominal majority Obama had for two years, the GOP decision to oppose him in nearly every respect, even down to nonpartisan appointments, meant that Americans can never praise or blame our presidents fully for what happened on their watch, as we could if we had a parliamentary system, because the Founding Fathers designed our form of government to divide up power and responsibility, and to empower the minority party to make life hell for the majority.

As the Republicans will discover if Romney wins. He who lives by the sword...

What you would know is that last night's speakers don't seem to think Romney will win. Because instead of tooting Romney's horn mostly their tooted their own (exactly as Obama did when he was supposed to be humanizing Senator Kerry). What's amazing is that even Mrs. Mitt did this, and when she did speak of her husband it was in platitudes, without a single detail about him that wasn't already known.

You would also know that Mr. Romney's business background is everything. The fact that he was governor of Massachusetts for four years was hardly mentioned and figured not at all in the accomplishments listed. Mrs. Mitt even made a point of Obama's lack of business background being the main reason why you shouldn't vote for him.

Um, exactly what is Paul Ryan's business background?


The vice-president's job is to be President if the President is incapacitated or dies. Unless Mitt Romney is immortal and invulnerable to the strokes and aneurysms and cancers and assassinations the rest of us are vulnerable to, then the qualifications for someone to be Vice President are exactly the same as those needed to be President.

So last night's speechifying focused on the one aspect of Mitt Romney that Mitt Romney himself has said--through his actions--is irrelevant.

The other thing you could know from last night is that, despite the delegations from Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands and American Samoa being right there in front, behind them what you saw was an ocean of white faces--mostly middle-aged, white male faces. I have nothing against white faces--otherwise I couldn't look in a mirror--but seriously, the GOP's convention demographics matched America's from never, even if you go all the way back to 1776--unless, as was done then, you don't count Negroes. The Great American Melting Pot was mostly absent. Orientals, Indians (apart from Bobby Jindall and Nicky Haley, and the former was busy with the hurricane), blacks, Latinos--nope. Might as well have been a political party in Iceland.

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