Mitt Romney is asked about his Afghanistan policy, and makes a statement about withdrawing troops and turning the job over to the Afghans. It's a statement that sounds a lot like what President Obama is already doing, though of course Romney is quick to mention that Obama is doing it all wrong. Then Romney says he'll get more specific after he's elected. Really Mitt? You want to criticize the president but you refuse to explain in any way what you would do differently? Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issues the following statement:
That’s simply not enough from someone running to be Commander-in-Chief. The truth is that Romney has refused to put forth a plan for what he would do in Afghanistan. If he does have some secret plan, he owes it to our men and women in uniform to tell them.Are people really going to put their trust in secret plans? Maybe a lot of voters don't remember 1968, when Nixon got elected based on a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. It took him four whole years to execute on that plan, at a cost of many thousands of American lives, and we ended the war on essentially the same terms we could have gotten in 1968.
Then there's the controversy over historian Niall Ferguson's hatchet job of a cover story in Newsweek, the gross errors in which have been thoroughly exposed elsewhere. What I learned today is that Newsweek has no fact-checking department, but relies entirely on its writers to deliver accurate information. That's kind of shocking in itself. What I'd like to ask Ferguson, and the Republican ticket he supports, is why it is necessary to lie about easily-verifiable facts like the CBO estimates of the budget impacts of the Affordable Care Act.
Look Niall, if you don't think the government should be trying to make health insurance available to all Americans, just say that you have a philosophical disagreement with the administration. If you have to lie about the cost of the ACA, that only means you have no confidence that your philosophical argument will prevail with voters, and that you have to mislead them in order to persuade them of your views. Hopefully people will understand that is what you are doing.
Let's move on to the quagmire of abortion, in which the Romney campaign is starting slowly to sink. They tried to distance themselves from the comments of Todd Akin, who professes to believe that women hardly ever get pregnant from "legitimate" rape. Trouble is, if Romney and Ryan agree with the scientific evidence that women can just as easily get pregnant from non-consensual sex as from the consensual variety, doesn't that almost make the predominant Republican position on this issue--that abortion is only justified to save the life of the mother--even less humane than Akin's view? At least Akin thinks that we should hardly ever force women to carry their pregnancies to term if they have been "legitimately" raped, because he supposedly believes that they hardly ever get pregnant in that situation. But if Romney and Ryan understand that lots of women do in fact get pregnant as a result of rape, how do they justify their support of the doctrinaire Republican position?
Finally, the latest from the war on voting in the State of Ohio. Ohio's new Republican Secretary of State has decided to shorten voting hours this year in every county in the state. He might have been able to claim that he was acting in a fair and uniform way, and not trying to disadvantage any particular group. Maybe he just wanted to inconvenience everyone in the state a little bit to save the state a few bucks. He could have argued that, until Doug Priesse, an official with the Franklin County Board of Elections, let the cat out of the bag by admitting the real purpose of these rule changes:
"I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine . . . Let's be fair and reasonable."Cheers to Priesse for his honesty. The only reason to shorten voting hours is that it makes it harder for predominantly working class--read African-American--voters to get to the polls. Coupled with a similar admission from a Republican politician in Pennsylvania, isn't that enough evidence that the only purpose of the concerted effort to make it more difficult to vote that has been mounted almost entirely in states controlled by Republican legislatures, is to reduce turnout by voters who are more likely to favor Democrats?
Whew! At this rate, how am I going to keep up when the fall campaign really gets started?