Election 2014  
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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.

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Otherwise, all we get here is a vague reference to “the various issues out there,” as if we all knew what they were. Presumably because they’re on our TV screens. And therefore not worth mentioning.

That’s two strikes. The third? It’s in response to a question about staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014:

We want to make sure that 2014 is successful. That’s why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don’t want to extend beyond 2014. That’s the point we’re making.

You know, if it was just this, I feel like we would — we would be able to call this a success, but it’s not. What we are witnessing as we turn on our television screens these days, is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Problems are growing at home, but jobs — problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren’t growing here at home.

So Afghanistan would be a success, but it’s not for some unspecified reason, which goes back to that “absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy” that we can see “on our television screens.” The best example of which appears to be something about jobs.

Strike three.

It’s easy to spin this as an example of Paul Ryan’s inexperience with foreign policy and national security issues, but I think that’s wrong. The truth is that he’s merely reciting a standard Republican talking point here. And why not? On the Rush Limbaugh program or any of the other Republican-aligned talk shows, it’s obviously true that Obama’s foreign policy is a total failure. That’s good enough for the hosts, and it appears to be good enough for the audiences. So why bother developing anything more?

A minor problem with all of this is that it leaves Republicans ill-equipped to convince anyone of anything unless they’re already within the conservative closed-information feedback loop. Minor, because most voting decisions are more about retrospective evaluations of incumbents than about careful examination of the logic in campaign statements, to the sheer laziness of the critique probably doesn’t matter very much at that point. The major problem, however, is that all of this lazy thinking leaves Republicans ill-equipped to govern – as seen in the problems encountered by the Gingrich Congress, the George W. Bush administration and now the Boehner/Ryan House. And that matters a lot.


Jonathan Bernstein writes at a Plain Blog About Politics. Follow him at @jbplainblog

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