Opinion
Join The Times' book club. This month's selection: "Cadillac Desert"
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Romney victory would vindicate right-wing smears of Obama

It is impossible to know if Mitt Romney would turn out to be a good, bad or a mediocre president, but one certain downside of a Romney victory is that it would reward the most venal forces in American politics.

It only starts with the kind of campaign Romney has run. He and his "super PAC" allies used a mountain of dollars to produce unending waves of attack ads that swamped the messages of his Republican primary rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. In the general election, Romney cranked it up a notch. President Obama’s own money machine paid for a slew of hard-hitting attacks against Romney that employed exaggeration and selective facts, but none of the Obama ads reached the same low level of deception as those put up by Romney as he zeroed in on the president.

Of course, disgustingly misleading attack ads have become ubiquitous at all levels of politics this year. Whether Romney wins or loses, that is unlikely to change. Still, seeing a campaign for president propelled to victory on so many outright falsehoods cannot be good for the republic.

PHOTOS: Top of the Ticket cartoons

That would be the lesser of the ill effects of a Romney win, though. Much worse is that the right wing’s broader onslaught of derision and lies against the president that began even before he took office would have achieved its goal. Barack Obama may, or may not, deserve reelection. But no man with as much decency as Obama exhibits in both his private and public life deserves the contempt that has been dumped on him by arch-conservative ideologues, talk show ranters and Internet goons.

From Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Donald Trump to all the anonymous creators of the wild fabrications that churn out of websites and go viral in emails, the relentless vilification of Obama has been unprecedented. Sure, every president suffers unfair criticism. Many of our most effective presidents, from Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, have been slandered and hounded by critics. But Obama’s detractors have plumbed new and revolting depths of mendacity.

Obama’s birthplace, his paternity, his religion, his academic attainments, his citizenship and his loyalty to the country have all been called into question by people who feel no moral qualms about spreading fabrications and untruths. Any unfair tactic, any lie is justified in order to “take back America” from someone they refuse to accept as a legitimate president, despite the indisputable reality that he was elected by a majority of American voters in a near-landslide of electoral votes. 

It is a false equivalence to say the left has been guilty of similar smears during the administrations of Republican presidents. In those past instances, all but a few Democratic elected officials shunned such slanders. The same was true for all but the most rabid liberal commentators. But most of today’s Republican leaders stay silent in the face of the lies and many eagerly repeat them, while leading conservative pundits give the endless falsehoods credence, not an honest critique. 

The right wing’s eagerness to engage in deceit has distorted credible conservatism and corrupted political discourse. It has turned the Grand Old Party into a rigid and narrow ideological club that tries to purge any Republican who displays even a hint of moderation or willingness to compromise.

The ever-waffling Romney is not their perfect candidate, but, for now, that does not matter. He offers their one and only chance to drive the usurper, Obama, from the White House. That has been the right wing’s objective every minute of every day for four years, and vindication of their dishonest, un-American crusade would be the worst result of Mitt Romney’s election.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Campaign 2012: All voters matter, but Ohio voters matter the most

    Campaign 2012: All voters matter, but Ohio voters matter the most

    If you live in Ohio, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are giving you a lot of love. But if you reside in California or Alabama, you may feel neglected and ignored by the candidates for president. Like parents in a big, noisy family, all their attention goes to the troublesome kids, not the compliant,...

  • Presidential debate: Romney says 'me too' to Obama policies

    Presidential debate: Romney says 'me too' to Obama policies

    Another debate brought out another version of Mitt Romney. This third time around, the chameleon candidate was not the hard-charging neo-con hawk of the primaries. Instead, he talked about peace, negotiations and using military power as a last resort. 

  • 'Strange' vs. 'simple old American' names

    'Strange' vs. 'simple old American' names

    Inflammatory Internet comments don't usually become news stories unto themselves. But a Duke University professor recently pulled off that trick. In response to a New York Times editorial about racism in Baltimore, Jerry Hough wrote that African Americans "just feel sorry for themselves" and compared...

  • Finally, action is being taken against FIFA corruption

    Finally, action is being taken against FIFA corruption

    That there is corruption at the top ranks of FIFA, world soccer's governing body, is about as shocking as Capt. Louis Renault's discovery of gambling at Rick's cafe in “Casablanca.” That the legal authorities of the world are finally doing something about it is more surprising, and welcome.

  • Getting the blues from trying to watch Dodgers on Time Warner Cable

    Getting the blues from trying to watch Dodgers on Time Warner Cable

    My wife gave me Time Warner Cable as a retirement present so I could spend my golden years watching the Boys in Blue on TV. This makes me a lucky guy because 70% of Southern California doesn't get to watch the Dodgers on TV, at least until Charter Communications fulfills its promises. But nothing...

  • Who's to blame when fake science gets published?

    Who's to blame when fake science gets published?

    The now-discredited study got headlines because it offered hope. It seemed to prove that our sense of empathy, our basic humanity, could overcome prejudice and bridge seemingly irreconcilable differences. It was heartwarming, and it was utter bunkum. The good news is that this particular case of...

Comments
Loading