Fancy Liar's Poker? Why not Liar's Politics? This week, faint-hearted journalists crept from quasi-permanent stupor to broadcast Paul Ryan's astonishing duplicity. That spectacle raises this shocking question: is Romney's fact-free mission to lie himself into the White House, or did corporate media draw a clear line separating consensual truth from compulsive fibbing? Wasn't it Oscar Wilde's jest that few journalists could distinguish a bicycle accident from the end of civilization?
Can you recall an emptier, worse run, more cringe-worthy Convention, where fatuous speechifying simply interrupted low-class sniping, low-class even for Rethuglicans? Fortunately, neither nominee is better at lying than proposing improvements to 95% of domestic inhabitants. Instead of Mitt's bizarre PR "job tour" to stimulate growth, why not a small feint towards a "truth tour"? Who figured truthiness would outshine this nonsense?
Beware: Ryan is smoother, slicker and more treacherous than the Palin Ninny, the miscast starlet who never overcame (or realizes to this day) her appearance in the wrong movie. Fortunately, V.P. candidates don't win elections, even when seemingly more genuine than his ticket mate (how could he seem less?). The mystery remains why an unpopular, distrusted campaign, with the base in tow and desperate to reach the information-averse undecideds, fired blank cartridges at party fanatics, not decisive November voters.
Having fleetingly redeemed themselves, will media worthies take on any national ticket whose arrogance (read: Romney team) openly scorns independent fact checking? Obama abuses civil and legal rights but not reportage, not yet declaring "this isn't intended to be factual." Isn't there an obscure democratic statute that outlaws revving up crude propaganda into barefaced mendacity? Apparently not, as the right turns its faith-alone folly into self-referential fixations: "you're either with us or criminal, subversive, a minority, or aligned with the devil." Talk about taking exception(alism).
Misrepresentation extends beyond frothy Neo-Extremists for Democrats are hardly models of truthtelling; they are usually smarter at fudging, lying more by omission than commission. Ideologues on the right are so extreme, one doubts their awareness even of chronic duplicity. A favorite line is when a dissembling diplomat in Lawrence of Arabia scolds the flawed hero: "If we've been telling lies, you've been telling half-lies. A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it."
No such distinction lets Ryan, his party's sole "intellectual" since Ayn Rand's demise, off the hook when serving up counter-factual red meat. CNN's David Gergen, not yet dumb as a post, had to concede some (!) "mis-statements," but "let's not forget that this was a speech about big ideas." Right, as if big enough ideas automatically enhance a weak argument.
Bigger the idea, harder they fall