Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Party And a Nation Meets Its Vice President Nominee

Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan

In politics the game is to tell people what they want to hear and not at times the true facts. In a race so polarized as it is, the 2012 presidential campaign takes things to the next level. With very few undecideds and certainly a lot of people holding exceptionally strong and unwielding views about politics it is a process of galvanization of your core supporters.

Tonight Paul Ryan, the Republican vice president nominee did just that. His speech was simple, accessible and at times eloquent but it also included some glaring inaccurances. The Democrats will certainly have a lot of ammunition to throw back at him at their convention and also in the vice presidential debates in October. The sad thing is a lot of it won’t stick. Paul Ryan stuck to the core beliefs of many modern die-hard Republican supporters. He hammered the issues of increased debt, interfering government and the supposed evils of Obamacare. He took no mercy in showing the failure of the main templates of Obama’s run for the presidency four years ago of hope and change. To many there is no point in arguing these issues. The Republicans have painted a rich and fruitful tapestry for their strong supporters that will overlook what Democrats will call the deceptions to be found in Paul Ryan’s speech.

There were indeed quite a lot of them. Ryan’s speech started by depicting a grim economic situation of a failed recovery with one in six Americans in poverty and the loss of America’s much cherished triple A bond rating. No matter how much the Democrats have tried to say otherwise, statistics have shown that the economic rehabilitation is still an issue for intensive care. Not just for Republicans but for many more in America that is all they see and pointing fingers as who is to blame is not going to help. Without the person on the street feeling the recovery in their bones it is a failure and the blame must fall at the doorstep of the President. Paul Ryan railed against Obama’s stimulus and has gone all out in depicting virtually all stimuluses as economic mismanagement. This is when in fact he voted for numerous stimulus programmes dating back to George W Bush’s first term as president.

Paul Ryan spoke often about one of the biggest issues for Republicans, that of healthcare and especially the Affordable Care Act known colloquily as Obamacare. While to some the issue of forcing someone to buy healthcare under penalty of a fine is wrong, how does one attack something which tries, albeit with substantial flaws to actually give universal healthcare, especially when Medicare is extremely popular? The Republicans have ingeniously latched on to the idea that to pay for Obamacare, the president intends to suck out of Medicare $716 billion. However this is false and was an effective smokescreen tonight to hide the fact that Paul Ryan’s own plan for healthcare would gut Medicare as we know it and create a voucher system instead.

One of the more contentious issues will be about Paul Ryan’s statements on debt and that President Obama walked away from a bipartisan debt deal and thus endangered the future prosperity of the nation. Ryan has made a name for himself as a deficit hawk and tonight made the allegation that Obama increased federal debt by $5 trillion, more than any other president in history. That may be so but the Democrats will point out that most of it was linked to the previous presidency and its economic mishandling. Furthermore, Paul Ryan made issue tonight about looking at the past record of Obama but failed to point out that his own signature has been on legislation in the past that has increased the debt even more than Ryan makes out Obama to have done . Furthermore, Obama was not the one to walk away from the bipartisan deal on debt and that he advised house Republicans to not support it due to the positive political implications it would have for the president.
Paul Ryan and his children

Surprisingly some of the most divisive social issues of the past few years barely got a mention. Gay marriage and issues concerning a woman’s body such as abortion were conspicuous by their absence. Interestingly enough the most noticable thing in relation to this was a small group of women protestors waving a banner calling for the Republicans to stay away from their vaginas! Later Paul Ryan to wide applause harangued Obama and government saying it had created “a country where everybody is free but us”. This of course hits on the nail of Republican hypocracy in relation to social issues. For all their advocation for less interference in people’s lives they are extremely quick to call for a constitutional amendment making marriage only between a man and woman and for a ban on abortion. It is for this reason that tonight’s speech was fundamentally a critique of Obama and his handling of the economy.

One of the more interesting inaccuracies that will be taken up by the press in the morning will be about Paul Ryan mentioning the supposed lies of Obama during his presidential campaign in promising upon election to prevent a car factory from closing. There no legitimate basis for this and in fact Obama pledged to do his best to secure the viability of the car company, not outright saving it. But the funniest bit about this lie is that the factory closed before he was elected president.

For all its inaccuracies the speech ticked the boxes for many Republicans. Paul Ryan gave them what they wanted to hear in a simple and clear way. To many that were watching tonight they would have seen a man speaking about the issues that cared directly to them – healthcare, debt and the failing recovery. The resonance of that coupled with the sheer joy of the crowd in Tampa will be etched in to their minds and will it is hoped by Paul Ryan’s speech writers and campaign crew overcome the erroneous nature of some of its facts. Tonight a nation saw their vice presidential candidate and have two months for the Democrats to do their upmost in tearing down the image his speech created among people

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