THE Republican convention last week was a study in the difference between truth and political theater.
While speakers were reviewed on their performances, the truth became the victim of a script carefully crafted to deceive.
There were a few good scenes for those people concerned about a future of an authentic GOP, such as Condoleezza Rice's extraordinary speech dealing with American inclusion, a throwback to more dignified days, but the breadth of the convention was a panderlooza to right-wing extremism.
The Romney/Ryan convention script was based on three major falsehoods that are obvious to any independent theater buff.
First was the theme song of the convention, that "We Built It" – a distortion of what President Barack Obama clearly said in a speech about the need for business to have reliable infrastructure.
But two "Titanic" lies dominated the convention: Medicare and Welfare.
While pundits tripped over their tongues on TV to praise the acting of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, trying to play Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life," Ryan brazenly lied that Obama has "raided" Medicare – failing to mention that his own plans would privatize Medicare by providing seniors with a "voucher" to spend with Mr. Potter, or, in this case, insurance corporations.
Trying "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Romney/Ryan scriptwriters also concocted the total lie that Obama has removed the work requirement from welfare. Too bad Gregory Peck wasn't here to denounce this pernicious lie, because it was crafted to incite racial tensions.
Underneath the choreographed lies was a chorus of deception, that President Obama, as Romney said, "does not understand America." (Subtitle: "Not one of us.")
Playing minor roles for the hearts of uninformed voters were governors such as John Kasich of Ohio and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, second-rate actors who are taking credit for low unemployment in their states, which is like Milli Vanilli taking credit for the hits of George and Ira Gershwin.
Obama's stimulus and the auto bailout staged the comeback in both states by giving money to distressed local and state governments; otherwise Ohio's and Virginia's budgets would be "Gone With The Wind."
Playing Orson Welles was my favorite, Gov. Chris Christie, who thundered that "we are going to tell the tough truth" to the American people. And then he spent 20 minutes talking about himself.
The "Elmer Gantry" of the RNC, however, was Mike Huckabee, heir apparent to Rush Limbaugh in right-wing radio, who calls himself an "evangelical." Huckabee said that Obama doesn't care for life in or outside the womb and that Obama insults Catholics because employers under "Obamacare" are required to include contraception in their insurance plans for female employees. The late, great Burt Lancaster, a committed liberal, would be angry.
The GOP producers did their best to appeal to women at the convention, the worst pass made at women since Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd were "two crazy guys" on "Saturday Night Live." The GOP platform is offensive to women.
Speaking of offensive (offensive to the presidency), actor Clint Eastwood made a "surprise" visit and did a one-man skit called "Empty Suit Talks to Empty Chair."
After a week of demonizing government, Romney, the star of the show, began his acceptance speech by saying America could do anything, citing John Kennedy's government program to put a "Man on the Moon." Does he realize the hypocrisy there, or is he like Andy Kaufman, just playing a role?
Once again the Republicans were overtly hawkish, this time under the guidance of another chicken hawk, Romney, who received five deferments during the Vietnam War and whose advisers on foreign policy are mostly neo-cons from the Bush administration.
Romney criticized Obama for "apologizing for America" – which he hasn't – and did a repeat reading of a 50-year-old Cold War dialogue. "Russia will see less flexibility," Romney promised, "and more backbone."
Looks like it's time for the remake of "Dr. Strangelove."
John Watson is the former publisher of the Sunday Dispatch in Pittston. He lives in Seattle. Contact him via email at [email protected].