How do you know that the GOP convention was a big success? Just look at the near hysteria of the Paul-Ryan-lied stories coming out of the Obama campaign. Obama manager David Axelrod and his minions want to make America forget that Mr. Ryan spoke the truth in his acceptance speech on Wednesday night, as Governor Romney did in his on Thursday.
The emptiness of the accusations against Mr. Ryan tells a lot about how the campaign is shaping up and the stakes behind it.
Exhibit one for the critics is that Ryan’s speech mischaracterized the history of the Janesville, Wisconsin, GM assembly plant.
The charge is that the plant closing had nothing to do with President Obama. It happened, we’re told, while George W. Bush was still president – except, as it turns out, it didn’t. GM announced the plant would close in mid-2008. Production continued until April 2009, three months into the Obama administration. In October 2008, Candidate Obama had promised to keep that specific facility running, if he were elected. Yet despite billions in his GM bailout, once in office he lifted not a finger to guarantee that GM Janesville stayed in production. Today the plant remains empty but on standby, pending a revival in the auto market, which depends on a revival in the economy.
But Ryan voted against the GM bailout, the Democrats’ campaign responds. Right, and Ryan’s point in his speech was that despite such misguided policies as the bailout, the GM plant was still shut down. A focus on restarting the general economy, not refinancing particular companies, would have been the right approach to saving the jobs of Janesville’s autoworkers – and so many millions of other jobs nationwide.
The text of Mr. Ryan’s address (http://tinyurl.com/d2gsakx) clearly laid out this history and critique, compressing it to fit the constraints of a speech. Writers at sites like National Review Online (http://tinyurl.com/d44m833), Forbes (http://tinyurl.com/8o2o2aj) and the Washington Examiner (http://tinyurl.com/c9wehzj) understood Mr. Ryan and determined the emptiness of the Obama campaign’s charges against him quickly. So how is it that reporters and columnists at the New York Times, the Washington Post and ABC News still cling so uncritically to the Ryan-lied line?
That’s a rhetorical question. Like David Axelrod and his band, the MSMosphere, too, gives every sign of fearing that the Tampa convention turned the corner for the Romney-Ryan candidacy.
The attacks didn’t stop with the Ryan address. The Obama campaign ranted that the entire GOP convention was built on lies, in particular about the president’s now famous “you didn’t build that” diatribe. Mr. Obama was talking about roads, schools and other public services, they tell us. All he spoke was the truism that if you build a business, you depend on all of those public works and services for your success.
But it is also a truism that a team of young people starting a company depends on the cars they drive, the workspace they rent, the telephone service at the workplace, the Fed Ex service, the office and equipment suppliers and a vast network of support, almost all of which is privately produced. In saying that business builders didn’t build “that” was the president referring not just to the contribution of the government but to those of Ford and Fed Ex and Apple and millions of other private companies that every firm depends on directly or indirectly? After all, every one of these – private as well as public — is part of our “wonderful American system,” to use his apt phrase.
But the chilling assumption behind the president’s rant was very different than the assumption that underpins our system. Our system assumes that we the people created the government, hired the staff in it and gave them specific jobs to do, paying them through taxes that we ourselves assessed. The government did not build us and does not in some measure own us, as Mr. Obama so clearly supposes.
As Clint Eastwood put it, “We own this country…. Politicians are employees of ours…. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.”
One devastating statement came out of Tampa. The Democrats in Charlotte may ignore it, but they cannot have a successful convention unless they effectively respond to it. It was Governor Romney’s statement: “[T]his president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office.”
This week we will see what, if anything, the Charlotte convention has to say in reply.