Say anything: The GOP’s grand old irony machine

Oh, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. What a rascal you are. Verily, I love you with all my spleen. You are the Dennis the Menace of outrageous plutocratic lies. The git who keeps on giving. You’re like a walking Zen koan, just waiting each day to visit confusion on my mortal monkey mind and launch me headlong into an expansive realm of timeless, egoless enlightenment.

Indeed, I’ve already opened my third eye enough to realize one key fact: Republicans will say anything, no matter how bizarre, if there’s a political advantage in it.

Exhibit ZZZ: Mitt Romney is currently taking credit for rescuing the auto industry.

(Of course, that whopper has since been trumped by news that Romney pinned a gay student to the ground in prep school because the kid had dyed hair. Remarkably, he says he doesn’t remember the incident, but apologized nonetheless: “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,” Romney said. Of course not. Republicans don’t believe anyone is a homosexual. But that’s not the point. Everyone’s done mean, regrettable things, but Mitt can’t even remember it, or alternatively, refuses to own up to it. What if I pinned Mitt Romney to the ground and shaved off his eyebrows for talking like a retired 18th century English brigadier general reminiscing about the frequent Sunday afternoon sponge baths he got from his indentured Bengalese houseboy? I think I’d remember it. That dog don’t hunt, Mitt – mostly because it’s in a luggage carrier on the top of your car.)

Anyway, even for Mitt, the auto industry thing was pretty out there. Plenty of people have already raked him over the coals for this one, but to take credit for the auto industry’s rebound after arguing against the very thing that saved it was really beyond the pale. Of course, Romney claims that the automakers followed his blueprint of managed bankruptcy, which he outlined in a now-infamous New York Times op-ed, but since he wasn’t in charge of the country, it would be hard to fathom how his fevered scribblings made any difference, even if his ideas had been implemented – which they weren’t.

But you have to forgive Mitt just a little bit. After all, he’s simply following a well-worn GOP strategy: Spew nonsense; spew it long and spew it hard, and if anyone calls you on it, accuse him of being a socialist, pin him to the ground, and shave his flamboyantly gay head – metaphorically, of course.

Need more evidence? Here are just a few of the Republican Party’s greatest hits:

Obama didn’t cause the recession, but he made it worse.

Mitt loves this one, but it’s complete nonsense. First of all, we are not in a recession and haven’t been for months, so this is a little like saying the paramedic who saved your life actually killed you.
This chart has been making the rounds for quite a while now, but it deserves another look.

Granted, job growth has been disappointing, but the economy is still wobbly after enduring a terrible recession, which began on George W. Bush’s watch. Indeed, many observers say that without the classic Keynesian stimulus Obama pushed through, the recession could have been much worse, and that the economy is still struggling, relatively speaking, because the 2008 financial crisis created a much deeper trough than what you’d see during a normal business cycle downturn.

And speaking of the Great Recession …

The 2008 financial crisis was caused by a program intended to help low-income people, not by greedy Wall Street sharks.

Unable to swallow the conventional wisdom that the financial crisis was touched off by a poorly regulated financial sector that gambled like Brett Favre on a Vicodin and Jose Cuervo smoothie, conservatives looked for – and found – another villain. The crisis was caused, they say, by the Community Reinvestment Act, which was designed to encourage lending institutions to grant mortgages to people in low-income neighborhoods. It was originally passed in 1977. The crisis occurred in 2008. And I’m sitting here with a stomachache I got from eating too many Jujyfruits while watching E.T. in the theater.

Sure, there were changes to the law along the way, but no serious observer thinks the CRA actually caused the meltdown. For one thing, most of the subprime loans that helped cause the crisis were issued by banks that weren’t subject to the CRA. In fact, one study found that mortgages made by CRA-regulated institutions were less likely to default than those issued by institutions not subject to CRA regulations.

Teachers are greedy, soulless villains, and the Walton family are harried victims.

The six Walton heirs are worth about $93 billion. Republicans, of course, would prefer they be much richer. Their father, Sam Walton, died in 1992. Republicans have been trying to get rid of the “death tax” (nee: the estate tax) for years, because it’s supposedly unfair to tax the money heirs and heiresses receive for picking the right womb to gestate in.

Meanwhile, teachers, who admittedly receive good benefits as part of their total compensation, are regularly demonized for their pimped-out Subarus and T.J. Maxx couture.

The same people who bash hardworking teachers noon and night for living lives of luxury would have you believe the Waltons, who didn’t lift a finger to amass their fortunes, need and deserve a break. That’s just weird.

Scott Walker campaigned on getting rid of collective bargaining. Anyone who is angry with the man or his methods is just a crybaby.

In February of last year, as this issue was beginning to heat up, Politifact rated the assertion that Walker campaigned on eliminating collective bargaining as false. Now, some of the governor’s supporters have noted that Walker did mention taking away public workers unions’ right to negotiate health care benefits and that he said he would ask for wage and benefit concessions if elected governor.

But while Walker said he “campaigned on this all throughout the election,” Politifact noted that it found lots of specific proposals Walker had made during the campaign, including the appointment of a “whitetail deer trustee,” but that “nowhere in our search did we find any such detailed discussion of collective bargaining changes as sweeping as Walker proposed.”

The truth is, Walker hid the full extent of his plan, because coming clean would have sunk his campaign. We knew more about his daily lunch plans than his plans to spike collective bargaining rights. Teachers and other public workers were blindsided by Walker’s proposals, and the reaction was predictable.

Scott Walker balanced the budget without using tricks and gimmicks like his predecessors.

After signing the budget, Walker said, “Through honest budgeting, we are providing an alternative to the reckless tricks and gimmicks of the past.” But Walker didn’t balance the budget using generally accepted accounting principles. Indeed, he admitted as much when his administration reported to the federal government that the state’s budget was still in deficit – something he did to keep open the option of making cuts to health care.

Scott Walker is an effective job creator.

As we all know by now, Wisconsin was the only state in the union to suffer statistically significant job losses from March 2011 to March 2012. But that didn’t stop Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch from giddily chirping during a March radio interview that jobs are streaming over the border from Illinois as a result of the administration’s efforts. It’s mostly B.S., of course, but she continued to advance the meme in a recent ad designed to burnish her governor’s record.

Sure, everyone fudges a bit (or a lot) in political spots, but this ad has the creepy sort of vibe I normally only feel when hearing Kathie Lee Gifford talk about what a wonderful husband Frank is, or watching bootleg tapes of North Korean kids dancing for Kim Jong-Il.

An oldie but a goodie: Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11.

George W. Bush was careful never to explicitly tie Saddam directly to 9/11, but he implied it over and over and over. As a result, in September 2003, 70% of Americans believed Saddam was personally involved in the attacks. It was all rubbish, of course, but since bin Laden and Saddam were both Arab-looking guys with Middle Eastern-sounding names, it worked like a charm.

And finally, Fox News, which is run by Roger Ailes, a former consultant to three Republican presidents, is fair and balanced.

Okay, so no one really believes this one.

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