By Bob Cesca: When a political party not only builds a convention theme but an entire political movement around lies, myopic slogans and total fiction, there are bound to be glaring contradictions, confused apparatchiks, gaffes and obvious flip-flops.
Yesterday, I wrote about the super-colossal flaws and contradictions surrounding the Romney/Republican attacks on President Obama regarding the deficit and debt. Not only are the Republicans primarily responsible for squandering the Clinton era surplus and turning it into record deficits and, hence, a huge national debt, but they refuse to acknowledge that the deficit is coming down and growth of the debt is slowing, and, in spite of the mathematical reality of it all, they continue to blame the Obama administration for the crazy high $15 trillion debt figure -- taking it at face value as a big scary number but not realizing that it was Republican policies that built it.
That dollar amount registering on the debt clock in the RNC area? The Republicans built that number, and economic experts across the nation agree that Mitt Romney will significantly add to it.
On Tuesday, the Republicans featured various business owners on the dais who told their "We Built It!" success stories to the delegates. Again, I want to preface the themes of the convention: American citizens and American business owners create their own success; the president created the massive deficits and debt that are allegedly holding back economic growth; and Mitt Romney will fix all of it. So with that in mind, here's the story.
The Republicans invited sign maker Phil Archuletta, owner of P&M Signs, to speak at the convention. Based in Mountainair, New Mexico, Archuletta's company has been producing outdoor traffic signs for over 40 years made from materials as varied as environmentally friendly plastics to redwood.
Mr. Archuletta explained to the delegates, "For the last 40 years, my company has built the road signs on the Forest Service road system. In fact, in 1984, I was fortunate to receive the national award from President Reagan for being the most successful minority business in the United States. In 2004, President Bush made it possible for our company to manufacture signs for all federal agencies."
Whoa. Hang on. What?
Yes, Mr. Archuletta said, at a convention that's dedicated to individual achievement and opposing government spending, that he's been a government contractor -- receiving 40 years worth of government money in exchange for the production of Forest Service signs, and eventually winning a contract from President Bush to make road signs for the entire government. To continue my riff from yesterday, all of that money that went to Archuletta was redistributed from taxpayers all around the nation.
So what exactly is Mr. Archuletta's gripe here? Clearly he's been growing his business with government money -- ostensibly not "building" his business entirely on his own and, therefore, proving President Obama's point that the American system helps business owners to prosper. He's not telling government to stop spending money on his business so he can do it all by himself for a change. What's his problem?
Archuletta clarified, "When President Obama came on board and pushed the stimulus, I believed my business was going to explode with work. Unfortunately, it never happened. The Democratic Congress and the Obama administration created a new procurement process that harmed existing small-business contracts, which devastated my business."
Has your brain exploded yet?
This business owner at the anti-government "We Built This" Republican convention said that he was not only excited about receiving money from the dreaded stimulus package, but that the president made it more difficult for him to get his hands on government money, which subsequently damaged his business. In other words, the Archuletta story illustrated the exact opposite of the Republican message: a business owner who was helped by government assistance and hurt when the method of spending became more restrictive under an accused "big spending" president.
Let me be clear: I'm not vilifying Archuletta. He's just a regular guy who accepted an invitation to tell his story. He's been wildly mislead by the goals of the Republican Party, but so have millions of other Americans. The point of this story is naturally to highlight the insane contradictions evident in the Republican Party. Even in the face of the party's message, convention planners invited a business owner to speak in spite of his story and, quite simply, because the business owner had something negative to say about the president.
Last night, John McCain delivered a speech in which he criticized the president for not intervening militarily in Iran and Syria. Again, like Archuletta, he won applause for criticizing the president, but the delegates who cheered for both speakers didn't seem to care that what these men were asking for was more government spending. On the heels of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're supposed to invade two more Middle Eastern nations without any idea about how to pay for it and, consequently, to run up the debt on top of the debt from the previous two wars? Both McCain and Archuletta demanded, regardless of intent, more government spending at an event about less government spending.
Later, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke to the convention. Ryan, as I've written before, voted for the Bush era wars, the Bush tax cuts, the Bush bailouts, the Bush stimulus and, not only that, he asked President Obama for stimulus money that went to businesses in Ryan's district. The mind-numbing contradictions continue to stack up.
Like Mitt Romney, the party itself doesn't know where it stands. It's only guided by Mitch McConnell's goal to make President Obama a "one term president," and by Rush Limbaugh's wish for the president to fail, irrespective of the damage such a failure might create. No contradiction is too obvious and no lie is too big in the pursuit of these purely vengeful, self-serving political goals. They don't have the economy in mind, they don't have jobs in mind, they really don't give a flying rip about the rapidly disintegrating environment. They only care about defeating the president and they're willing to say and do anything to get there, even if it means appearing out of touch or clueless or if it means passing Voter ID laws that simply prevent Democrats from voting. Whatever it takes, the party will seize upon it, even if it means embarrassing and exploiting fellow Republicans and electing a new president who will continue to rack up record deficits and debt, and, thus, reversing the empirical, mathematical trend of the current administration which is succeeding in slowing the growth of the debt and cutting the deficit.