By Bob Cesca: Predictably, the Romney campaign and its apparatchiks at Fox News accused the Democrats of lacking “civility” during the first day of their convention. RNC chairman Reince Priebus called the Democrats “classless” for showing a 1994 video of Ted Kennedy debating (and embarrassing) a decidedly more liberal Mitt Romney.
You know who shouldn’t be lecturing the Democrats about civility? The people who gave us swift-boating, the Southern Strategy, the outing of Valerie Plame, Birthers, Reverend Wright videos around the clock, “Obama pals around with domestic terrorists,” the exploitation of 9/11, comparing a triple amputee Vietnam veteran to Saddam Hussein, the booing of a gay soldier, and the party that sported Purple Heart band-aids at the 2004 convention to mock another decorated Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, who was wounded in combat. And no one on the floor of the Democratic convention hurled peanuts at an African American camerawomen, shouting, “This is how we feed the animals.”
Yes, the Democratic speakers unapologetically jabbed Romney for having a Swiss bank account and for being a shameless prevaricator. They criticized his policy proposals for being the usual Reaganomics claptrap we’ve heard during every election and, accurately enough, how the same policies caused the recession. There’s a difference between taking fair shots at an opponent and the reprehensible tactics routinely exercised by the Republicans.
I totally get it: since the dawn of history, politics has always been about rigorous debate, passionate arguments, salient framing and rhetorical aggression. That’s not incivility. That’s politics. But the Republicans always appear shocked whenever the Democrats bring their A-game to political contest, and then they hilariously lean on this well-worn “civility” crutch with full knowledge that the party’s PR wing, AM talk radio and Fox News Channel, has made a fortune in cash and ratings by calling the president a communist, a traitor and a “little black man child.”
The Democratic Party finally and thankfully stood up for its values and, most noticeably, its position on social issues. The party was unafraid to feature leaders from NARAL and Planned Parenthood on the stage. Various speakers talked repeatedly about reproductive rights, civil rights, LGBT rights and the role of government and how “we the people” ought to lend a hand to those who have nowhere else to turn. Core liberal values. Likewise, the party made it clear that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are the enemy of these values. And they are. They’ve pledged to repeal all of the advances in these areas upon arriving at the White House. Last night, an actual undocumented worker named Benita Veliz — an illegal immigrant, the latest brand of “evildoer” — spoke at the convention. On top of that, right-wing lightning rod Sandra Fluke spoke during prime time and thanked the Democrats for “amplifying” her voice in spite of brutal attacks from Rush Limbaugh and others who not only lied about her testimony to Congress but publicly and relentlessly slandered her reputation for weeks, calling her a “slut.”
Tell me again about civility, Republicans.
Frankly, I think this notion of taking a firm stand on core values hit really close to home for the Republicans who’ve nominated a candidate whose positions change by the day, interspersed with universally debunked lies. Simply put: Romney and Ryan don’t seem to stand for anything — you know, other than doing the exact opposite of President Obama.
On the same day when American voters were talking about powerful speeches from the First Lady and Julian Castro, The Nation reported that the increasingly shaky and awkward Paul Ryan actively lobbied the Obama administration for money from Obamacare, specifically for a community healthcare center in Racine. The Affordable Care Act provides $9.5 billion for health centers and $1.5 billion for a series of brand new centers, and Paul Ryan wanted a piece of the action while demonizing Obamacare’s “reckless spending” and how it’s a “government takeover.” We’ve heard this before. Ryan also requested money from the dreaded stimulus while voting against it and while using it as a cudgel to utterly skull-bash the president’s agenda.
But I suppose I’m not being civil by pointing out Ryan’s obvious lack of integrity, say nothing of the top of the ticket whose home planet eradicated integrity centuries ago while purging itself of emotions and authenticity during the final epoch of the Alpha Centauri Interstellar Conundrum.
So the contrast between a strong Democratic Party and a flaky, unstable, flip-floppy Republican Party has prompted the GOP to spend the week whining and pooping its big boy pants about how the Democrats are being so mean. For a Republican Party dependent upon lies and intellectual dishonesty, the truth really hurts.