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Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum Lie About President Obama's Record for Political Gain in 2012

This week’s two GOP presidential debates have highlighted a disconcerting rhetorical trend: The Republican candidates cannot seem to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to addressing the person and policies of President Barack Obama. The candidates’ misrepresentation has gotten so out-of-control that several news organizations now routinely publish fact-checking reports following each debate.

Of the four remaining Republican presidential hopefuls, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum seem to be the most egregious in their misrepresentation of the president. In wrongly characterizing him, they have created a straw man character who they can attack and try to separate themselves. His name is “Barack Obama.” He looks like the president, but the beliefs and actions of the GOP’s fictional man greatly differ from the views and actions of the man who currently holds office.

Take, for example, Santorum’s recent claim that the president’s administration has actively sought to instruct young African-American girls to forego marriage. Santorum himself must be heavily in favor of teaching young girls about marriage if he is bringing such horrific behavior to life. However, when Santorum said that Obama’s administration promoted “not [telling young girls] what the good choice is” he was talking about “Barack Obama," the anti-American, anti-marriage tyrant that is, in the GOP’s fictional world, ruining the United States’ dearest institutions. In reality, Obama’s administration had actually suggested that abstinence-only education didn’t work, a claim supported by extensive research. However, that Obama tried to make the education of at-risk teens more effective did not fit in with the GOP narrative. So, Santorum twisted the facts and created an “Obama” that actually attempted to prevent teens from getting married.

Similarly, Newt Gingrich assaulted Obama’s economic abilities when he described him as a “food-stamp president” earlier this week. Gingrich’s “Obama” would prefer to step on the downtrodden and keep them down. He would not want to create jobs, and, indeed, has put no effort into a job creation bill. Gingrich, as opposed to his fictional version of “Obama” would put young poor Americans to work — as janitors. Of course, Gingrich must have overlooked that the real President Obama ferociously campaigned for his own “American Jobs Act.”

Mitt Romney continued the attack on Obama as a financial decision-maker when he made several dubious claims during Monday’s debate. The claim that stands away from the pack was that the Health Care Law would add “another $1 trillion of debt” to the nation’s ledger. Here, Romney crafts a fictional “Obama” — one who is an anti-business, financially non-savvy community organizer, whereas Romney himself is a job creating financial whiz. It is a storyline that Romney’s campaign has pushed throughout his presidential run. Meanwhile, the facts show that repealing Obama’s health care law would actually add to the national deficit over the course of a decade. But a financially sound health care law is not something that “Obama” could enact. So, the GOP frontrunner has decided to ignore the numbers the Congressional Budget Office put forth. Instead, he’s decided to continue with the GOP driven narrative that “Obama’s” policies add to the United States’ economic woes.

I enjoy stories as much as any — and probably more than most. However, I would prefer that fiction and politics remain separate. If the GOP candidates hope to attain success against Obama, and not “Obama," they should stop telling tales. Instead, the country would be better served if our presidential candidates confronted one another in an open and honest fashion — as long as it’s not too inconvenient to the nation’s political storytellers.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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