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Romney and Ryan Have Resorted to Lying as a Form of Debating

Romney's criticisms of Obama -- on full display during the debates -- don't even make sense.

The hallmark of Republican thinking these days, especially as expressed in Romney/Ryan rhetoric, is just the sheer laziness of it. That’s presumably a consequence of having developed an amazingly efficient partisan press. There’s just very little incentive remaining to develop actual policies or even a real critique of Barack Obama’s administration. After all, if the president is a Kenyan socialist intent on destroying the United States, it’s hardly necessary to explain exactly where his policies are going wrong or why.

That often shows up in the way that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan dissemble. Every presidential campaign lies, but what distinguishes this crowd is a  lazy mendacity in which there’s not even an attempt to make their falsehoods plausible ( here’s another recent, excellent example).

But it also shows up in their basic rhetoric. Why put together a critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy when they can just refer to unspecified disasters and know that anyone watching Fox News will nod in agreement? And thus we get  Paul Ryan’s astonishingly substance-free line that “What we are witnessing, as we turn on our television screens these days, is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

Ryan trotted out “unraveling” three times in the vice-presidential debate.

The first one was at the end of a scattershot answer that was mostly about Libya:

And with respect to Afghanistan and the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want to do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here. This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself. But unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem, and that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more — more chaotic and us less safe.

Apparently something is happening “on our TV screens” that’s self-evident to Ryan. Now, I have no doubt that on certain TV screens – the ones permanently set to Fox News – all sorts of terrible things are happening as a direct result of Obama’s incompetence. Or, perhaps, Obama’s deliberate preference for those horrible outcomes. But it would be nice for Ryan to give us some sort of clue about it. His critique is that the U.S. is “projecting weakness abroad” (how?), and that’s resulting in … something. What? No idea.

So that’s one try. Next:

Look, this was the anniversary of 9/11. It was Libya, a country we knew we had al-Qaeda cells there. As we know, al-Qaeda and its affiliates are on the rise in northern Africa. And we did not give our ambassador in Benghazi a Marine detachment? Of course there is an investigation so we can make sure that this never happens again. But when it comes to speaking up for our values, we should not apologize for those.

Here is the problem. Look at all the various issues out there and that’s unraveling before our eyes. The vice president talks about sanctions on Iran.

At which point he was asked a question about Iran and answered it. “Unraveling”? There’s surely plenty of room for criticizing Barack Obama’s Iran policy, either that it’s too hawkish or not hawkish enough, but it’s really hard to understand an argument that Iran policy is “unraveling before our eyes.” Unwise? Perhaps. Short-sighted? Maybe. Unraveling before our eyes? How? The only obvious news out of Iran is the collapse of their currency, which, for better or worse, is awfully hard to cast as an unraveling of a tough sanctions policy. Indeed, it seems suspiciously like the consequences of a successful tough sanctions policy! Again, one can criticize the policy, but how is it unraveling before our eyes?

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