GOP president, GW Bush, was on vacation when Katrina hit. (He loved his vacations! Oh God how GW Bush loved his vacations!) When the President finally showed up to see the devastation wrought by Katrina, he assured the nation that Brownie was doing one "heck of a job," leaving much of the nation outside of his administration scratching their heads about his ability to process critical information about the worst national disaster to hit our shores.
So beginning the 2012 Republican National Convention under the gloomy God-forsaken, storm-tossed skies brought by Hurricane Isaac was off-script indeed.
(Making some wonder, what, exactly, was God trying to say to the GOP by sending Isaac their way as their moment in the sun was to begin? )
It was a convention that brought many vivid moments...
- Ann Romney promising to talk about love and assuring us, once again, that we could trust her husband. (Reminding us subtly that we need to trust her when she says all's well in their tax returns; we're not trusted enough to get that information from them.) She also assured us that "I love you women!" It seemed, however, the women she loved were all mothers - women without children were not necessarily on her radar. (Subtext of her speech could potentially be read as: Breed baby breed...)
- Paul Ryan gaining for himself a new moniker: Lyin' Ryan for the falsehoods sprinkled throughout his speech. Even FoxNews, our fair and balanced supporters of the GOP platform, noted the separation between rhetoric and fact in Ryan's speech.
- Electric buzz generated for a "mystery speaker" that turned out to be Clint Eastwood rambling senselessly to the silent chair in the room. Clint so memorably made everyone's day that no one really remembers the main event - Romney's speech - at all. When it became clear that Eastwooding was more of a negative, the game of assigning blame got hot. (Making some wonder if the Romney camp will ever accept responsibility for anything they do.)
Peggy Noonan has a vividly titled op-ed offering up her notions about the event. According to her piece, with less than three months to go before the election, Republicans [finally] join the battle. I don't quite know where Noonan thinks the Republicans were during the battle for the GOP nomination, but, in her mind, when it was all said and done, they'd shown up in Tampa, ready for war.
Of Mitt, Noonan said this:
"Mitt Romney's speech? The success of the second night of the convention left people less nervous about the stakes. Nobody expected a great one. There was a broad feeling of, "Look, giving great speeches is not what Mitt does, he does other things."And in that summation, Noonan provides a beautiful illustration of the phrase, "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
He had to achieve adequacy. He did."
Because what we need right now is the achievement of adequacy in our presidential candidates....
Noonan also noted:
"Condi Rice was a star. She took the role of accomplished and knowledgable public instructor, boiling down the conservative critique of Mr. Obama's foreign policy. What are they upset about? That he's not serious, that he doesn't understand what America must be in the world. The great unanswered question now is where America stands. When the world doesn't know, it becomes 'a more chaotic and dangerous place.'"Condi neglected to mention the dual wars her president had taken America to in the time that she was a principle player on the national security scene. Two wars, and one was "pre-emptive," launched on flimsy evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - WMD that turned out to be ephemeral, fictional, non-existent.
Condi forgot to mention that she helped whip up pro-war sentiment back in 2002 by going on CNN and saying "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Condi forgot to mention that her president once declared the war in Iraq to be a "Mission Accomplished" - way back on May 1, 2003, and she failed to note that that mission is still ongoing today.
Condi neglected to mention that under the 'unserious' President Obama, Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for the 9/11 bombings, was taken down.
Condi avoided mentioning that under the previous Republican president - her boss - the world was an incredibly chaotic and dangerous place; that under GW Bush's reign, terrorists so hated America that they flew jets into buildings to try to tear us down; that the GOP administration failed to note key intelligence that perhaps could have prevented 9/11; that a terrorist operation based in Afghanistan had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, that a democracy imposed from outside forces onto a country is indeed a fragile democracy. And perhaps such a fragile transformation of a Middle Eastern nation should not require the deaths of American soldiers to attain.
What both Condi Rice and Peggy Noonan fail to acknowledge is that Republicans have been waged in a battle to make Obama a one-term president from the moment he was elected. At a moment of terrible crisis in America, unemployment rising above 10 percent; banks perched on the edge of a precipice; businesses closing down all across the Main Streets of America, the GOP made the decision to obstruct any and every potential solution. Their goal was NOT to get America back on track, but to make sure Obama was a one-term president. They haven't just shown up last week in Tampa - they've been engaged in creative destruction since well before November 2008.
Their policies under Bush created the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Their policies under Bush created TARP, one of the largest welfare programs in US history. Their programs saw bankers receive vast sums of federal money that led to vast bonuses for bankers at a time when jobs were being shed by the millions in the private sector.
We are indeed waged in a battle, a battle for the soul of America.
One party - the Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan - wants the nation to believe that all of our ills stem from the actions of the current president, that the policies of the Republican president who inhabited the White House from 2000 to 2008 had nothing to do with the terrifying crash of our economy, that a plant closing in Janesville that happened under Bush was really the fault of Obama, that the current president lacks the gravitas to take us into "pre-emptive" wars to save us from WMDs that don't actually exist; that Osama bin Laden must still be alive because to acknowledge his death is to acknowledge an Obama success; that a business built on the destruction of companies is the admirable and forward-thinking way to run American companies today; that rape is a crime that requires the addition of an adjective ("forcible" via GOP Paul Ryan or "legitimate" via GOP Todd Akin) to fully define it.
In a nation so swept up in a catastrophic economic tsunami, the goal of every policy maker should be the recovery of our nation. Instead, we've got a party devoted to bringing down one man, the man who replaced their man (GWB) who trashed the economy, launched us into two wars that are still going on today, created a federal backstop for failed banks that let them reap the rewards of failure, initiated policies that increased government spending and the deficit.
Instead of taking a deep, thoughtful look into the fissures that led to catastrophe, the GOP's one goal is to destroy the current occupant of the White House.
As Rush Limbaugh noted earlier this year, "the dirty little secret ... is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so...."
That's a terrible focus, and a terrible failure of vision. What we saw in Tampa was a party for whom facts are dangerous things. What we saw in Tampa was a party so primed for lying that truth is non-existent for them.
What we saw in Tampa was a party with no vision, no goal, no hope for the future of America. What they want more than anything is the removal of Obama from office. Beyond that, they are as silent about the future as they are about Romney's taxes.
What we saw in Tampa was a room full of angry white people. And we can thank Clint Eastwood for illuminating the GOP platform with such vivid intensity. A grumpy old man stood up on stage and argued vaguely with an empty chair. In less than 12 minutes, he summed up the GOP platform - an emotional, rambling tirade of hate focused on an Invisible Obama.
Trust us," they say. We can trust them once again. Or we can look facts squarely in the face and know that the GOP's SOP is not at all good for America.