“If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire, if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores, if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote, if a generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time, if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream, and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.”
In a sea of eloquence that are national political conventions, this statement rises above the rest. Its sweep, its passion and its vision would press the limits of the best of speech writers, but come to find out, in a rare departure, the author of these words was none other than the speech maker, herself: First Lady Michelle Obama.
The contrast between the authenticity, morally as well as factually, of the First Lady’s speech and the downright lies that characterized almost all the speeches by the Republicans at their convention last week could not be sharper.
In fact, if as simple and valid a notion as authenticity were the measure of this election, then President Obama would win by a massive landslide. He might.
Never to my memory has one party, the GOP, resorted to so many lies, distortions and cover-ups to try to confuse and misdirect the American electorate.
Of course, they get credit for the biggest lie of the century so far, the infamous claim that there was a huge cache of “weapons of mass destruction” located about 30 minutes south of Baghdad. By repeating that one often enough that lie worked, going down as perhaps the most costly, in terms of human lives and the demolition of the U.S. federal budget, in history.
It’s one thing for an enemy to face his adversary and say he wants to kill him for something he actually did. It’s another to make up lies and attack someone for something he didn’t do or say.
The GOP organized its entire national convention around a deliberate and knowing distortion of a comment by President Obama taken entirely out of context. It’s “We Built That” theme was based on a snippet from a speech by Obama when he was talking about building national infrastructure. The GOP made it into an attack by Obama on individual initiative and achievement.
The same goes for the lies of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney about Obama’s stands on welfare and Medicare. It is doubly disingenuous for Ryan, the author of a controversial budget that moves Medicare to a dangerous voucher system, to cover himself by accusing the other guy, not him, of wanting to put senior citizens at risk.
When the non-partisan “fact checkers” call the Republicans out on their lies, the Republicans counter by saying that “maybe the fact checkers need fact checkers.”
It is sad how many otherwise seemingly decent and intelligent human beings are willing to fall into line behind the GOP’s “Big Lie” approach. I can only wonder when some will have had enough and begin breaking ranks. It has to be hard, at least for those with some real integrity.
Michelle Obama’s speech came from the real circumstances of her and President Obama’s lives, and those of their parents. The image of her father, stricken with Multiple Sclerosis but struggling to make it to work and back every day to pay for his children’s education, was stunning.
The Obamas rose out of true disadvantage, contrasted to the Romneys or the Ryans. If the Romneys ate meals on an ironing board when young, as Ann Romney said in her speech last week, maybe it was because she didn’t know what an ironing board was supposed to be for. As for Ryan working at McDonald’s, it was not done out of necessity, but was a rich kid’s college job.
Michelle Obama summed it up this way, “For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”