By James A. Kidney
The mendacity of the Republicans at last night’s debate was unbelievable. And I am not talking about just Donald Trump. The other 14 candidates at the two debates also misstated or ignored key fact after key fact. CNN, which purports to be a news organization, acted only as wrestling referee and did not call out the candidates on a single misrepresentation. Here are just three:
FIRST. All the candidates act as if they have the solution to the Middle East and that Obama is a scaredy-cat who just goes out on his own without consultation. They all ignored that President Obama solicited Congress less than a year ago, after the mid-term elections, for new authority to proceed with military actions in the Middle East. Congress – controlled by Republicans in both houses – could have imposed whatever limits or requirements it wished in freshening the war powers act, which was passed before invading Iraq. The President asked them to do so. Rather than risk taking any position, Republicans allowed the measure to die.
So, no matter what you think of the President’s conduct of the war in the Middle East, it is a lie to suggest that he has proceeded without asking for the help of Congress – including all the federal office holders on the platform last night – or that Congress could not have instructed him how to proceed. He asked for congressional assistance and didn’t get it. If something had to be done, the President was on his own, subjected to the usual cawing of second-guessing chicken hawks who were derelict in their own responsibilities.
(Lindsay Graham, by the way, may have spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, as he kept telling the audience last night, but, as would be expected for a JAG member his age, he never saw any combat. The Washington Post has disclosed how he exaggerated the resume of his reservist career.)
SECOND. Carly Fiorina, who was more-or-less crowned the debate “winner” by the mainstream media, said, “we’ve been talking about illegal immigration for 25 years. . . . And meanwhile, what has happened? Nothing.” The implication is that the Democrats and Obama are to blame. But in 2011, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, 68-32, with 14 Republicans crossing over to pass it, including current presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham. The Republican controlled House declined to even consider it. Of course, no one from CNN pointed that out to Ms. Fiorina and the other candidates, including Rubio, who has since backed off from the proposal so as to appeal to the rabid GOP “base”. To his credit, Graham has mostly stuck to his principles on the subject.
THIRD. All of the candidates took it as a given that Planned Parenthood traffics in “baby parts” and must be defunded, though there was a majority consensus that the issue wasn’t worth shutting down the government. (This passes for adult wisdom in the party nowadays.) But they all stomped on Planned Parenthood. Two candidates outright lied about the videotapes that have been so prominent in GOP discussions lately.
•Cruz: “Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.”
•Fiorina: “As regard Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Of course, the tapes do no such thing. They are heavily edited. They show no sales, but under some circumstances it is permissible to sell fetal tissue, and Planned Parenthood says, without proof offered to the contrary by anyone, that it follows the rules. Fiorina refers to an interview with someone (not from Planned Parenthood) purporting to have seen “brain harvesting.” But the alleged tech company supposedly employing the interviewee was a phony company cobbled up for the purpose of trapping Planned Parenthood. The trick didn’t work, so the right wing producers had to come up with an “interview” instead of any actual footage or other proof. Zero evidence has been offered up by anyone supporting the notion that any felony was involved, much less the “multiple felonies” Cruz claims to find.
War in the Middle East.
Twelve million undocumented immigrants.
Unwanted pregnancies and women in crisis.
These are serious issues involving real lives warranting serious discussion – about a billion lives in the Middle East, let alone our own 325 million.
Not to the GOP. They are all political piñatas, not even worthy of truth-based argument. Even granting the circus nature of all of these debates, last night reached some sort of low in pandering on these subjects, at least.
Another piñata bashing is scheduled for the end of next month.
Bring your own air sickness bag.