The Democrats are losing it, literally. The Obama camp and its surrogates are losing the fight to control the narrative about Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) They are losing the effort to distract voters through the presence at the GOP convention of Obama campaign staffers such as Robert Gibbs and Ben LaBolt, who spend their time wandering about and whining to the media here in Tampa about the “negativity” of the other side. They are losing the ability to con the media into focusing on likability, as if perceptions of Romney and Ryan wouldn’t improve after this event.
That spilled over last night in a group outburst from Romney-Ryan critics over Paul Ryan’s speech. Needless to say, the speech was a ringing success with delegates and in much of the mainstream media. Ryan bloodied President Obama with blow after blow, all the while appearing cheery and sincere. The crowd loved it. So nearly en masse the left decided that Ryan “lied.”
For starters, that is the ultimate compliment. It is in effect saying the speech worked so well and was received so well that the only thing to say is that it was a con job.
But the “lies” turn out not to be lies at all. They are not even misrepresentations or exaggerations.
Take Ryan’s criticism of Obama’s ignoring Simpson-Bowles. This is a fact. That Ryan voted for it and then put together the only comprehensive budget using some elements of Simpson-Bowles (a premium-support Medicare plan, block-granting Medicaid) doesn’t make his remarks about Obama a lie. A true statement — Obama ignored Simpson-Bowles — is not a lie because there is another true statement — Ryan voted no and came up with his own plan. This is a standard of “lying” that has never been applied to the president, by the way.
Then there is the “lie” that Obama took $716 billion out of Medicare. That is also a fact. That Ryan, who has now signed onto Romney’s plan which puts the money back, previously took those cuts to put back into the Medicare trust fund does not make the statement false. Obama can defend the cuts and say it wasn’t so bad or say that sticking the money into Obamacare was justified, but Ryan did relate what Obama did.
Then there is the accusation that Ryan “lied” about the Janesville GM plant. Let’s recall exactly what he said: “‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what [Obama] said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.” Ryan quoted Obama accurately.
Ryan never said the plant was closed by Obama; he said Obama promised to revive the plant and couldn’t deliver. That is a fact, not a ”lie.” Well, it’s not a lie by Ryan; and I’ll not call Obama’s promise to keep the plant open a “lie.” Obama just didn’t deliver. The Romney-Ryan campaign points to a story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel verifying that a decision was made in 2011, well after Obama’s Janesville appearance, to keep the plant on standby. (“Since they were shut down in 2009, both the Janesville and Tennessee plants have been on standby status, meaning they were not producing vehicles, but they were not completely shut down.”)
The stings on these issues cut so deeply that I suppose that the Obama team and its media allies are crazed to turn facts into lies and aspirations into distortions. Take Ryan’s statement that he’ll keep GDP below 20 percent. What Ryan critics say is “misleading” is in fact a policy difference. Ryan’s budget does bring spending to about 20 percent of GDP, with an increase in defense spending. It’s fine to say that’s a bad choice; but it’s not misleading.
It is likewise not misleading to say: “None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers — a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.” That is an accurate description of Obama’s own “Life of Julia” Web site, which depicted exactly that. If anyone blew it, it was the Obama team in putting out a caricature of the liberal welfare state.
I understand the frustration of Obama’s camp and its supporters. Moreover, I think much of the media accusations were offered in haste in an effort to get out the instant reaction without the media doing their full homework. It is a revealing moment, for the press and the Obama camp. For members of the Obama team, it means they are losing the race, and they know it.