This week, we saw the Republicans throw a big party in St. Paul, declare the federal government broken and in need of change, repeat the litany of debunked fear-laden fallacies of the opposing party, and declare themselves the only option to fix the system they've broken. What's wrong with this picture?
Last week in this space, I called the introduction of newcomer Sarah Palin to the race "welcome," in that McCain had "injected a wild card into the race for the home stretch." Now that we know more and know better, the GOP's ticket is as troubling and dangerous as any they've put forward in recent memory. American politics, as political observers well know, are about more than the personalities leading the ticket. The most important forces in any election are those that are mobilized by the issues represented by the candidates. While the gun-toting, Bible-thumping, chest-pumping, flag-waving masses had been put into some kind of hibernation since January by John McCain, it took mere days for Sarah Palin's big-hair, beauty-queen, hockey-mom, mega-family persona to bring them roaring back to life.
Republicans always seem to know what's at stake and have the discipline to band together at the critical moment. Democrats seem to have these pesky principles that keep them bickering at each other and forming individual mobs that pledge not to give in unless they get assurances for this or that demand. The infuriating thing is that there's apparently no accountability for made-up crap.
- Palin was ready to accept the Bridge to Nowhere—along with plenty of other earmarks—until Congress killed it. If she really wanted to avoid wasteful spending, she could have returned the money.
- Palin lied that Obama hasn't authored "a single major law or even a reform" in either Senate body (state or national) in which he has served. Ethics reforms are just one area where he has authored major legislation. Obama has also worked with Republican senators to track down and secure nuclear and conventional weapons around the world, to create public transparency in federal grants and contracts, and to implement corrective processes in the Department of Homeland Security after the widespread use of no-bid contracts in post-Katrina efforts.
- Fred Thompson called Obama's proposed economic plan "one of the largest tax increases in American history." The nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center describes it as follows:
"The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers. ... By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase — a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income."
The largest tax increase in history was in 1942 and was 5.2 percent of the economy. Obama's would be about 0.1 percent in its first year, or one-fiftieth as large.
There's plenty more fun to be had at FactCheck.org, run by the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center. You, too, can sort through the spin and find the facts beneath the hyperbole of your target politician. Here's a clue: the one who spends more time making up stuff about their opponents rather than tweaking their own records are usually the ones to watch out for.
Have a topic you'd like to read about? Or just want to give your feedback? E-mail me at reason -at- tylersclark.com