The big news out of the Republican National Convention was the lying. Paul Ryan went down in convention history as delivering one of the most lie-filled speeches ever. Even Sally Kohn of Fox News wrote that "to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan's speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech." Then Mitt Romney's speech was heralded in USAToday as mostly "puffery and exaggeration."
After the lying came the lambasting when videos were released of Romney demeaning 47% of the US population, Latinos, African Americans, and anyone who has ever thought that it makes sense for our nation to offer support to those in need.
Romney's response to the videos next led to some creative number crunching. First he defended his disdain for 47% of the US population, then he explained that his presidency would support 100% of the population. He defends the fact that he doesn't care about 47% of the population, but he assures us that his "campaign is about 100 percent of America"? If those numbers make sense, we all need to go back to second grade.
Romney's comments must also be taken in conjunction with Ryan's earlier statement that rape is just another "method of conception." And these are only just a few of the most egregious cases where Romney or Ryan has made an outrageously negative comment about a major segment of the population. So when we add up the 47%, Latinos, African-Americans, women, and anyone who thinks that it makes sense for the wealthy to pay more in taxes than the poor, when we add together all of the US citizens that have been demeaned by this campaign, it is hard to see how the Romney/Ryan ticket has the numbers to win. These guys can't seem to decide whether to lie to voters or insult them.
And yet, thus far, the race is still on. After the media frenzy over the Romney gaffes, an old tape of Obama was trotted out to attempt to even the playing field. It is hard to see how a statement made in 1998 that effectively talks about such extreme ideas as having the rich pay a higher share of taxes than the poor compares to Romney's offensive comments, but you wouldn't know it from watching the Fox News.
And that is why we need to continue to thank Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for using their powerful political comedy to shed some light on these recent developments. The segments they have run show us that Romney's comments are not gaffes. They are not bloopers. In fact, they are glimpses into the character behind the candidates.
Colbert hit this point home with typical satirical wit when his right-wing pundit character explained that this was "not a crisis for Romney, this is a triumph, because Mitt nailed it! Obama supporters are nothing but lazy parasites." He then came to Mitt's rescue by showing him how to "elegantly deliver his message with more panache." Watch the full clip here:
The Colbert Report
Jon Stewart helped highlight the hypocrisy of Romney's comments, pointing out that his own father had received welfare, meaning that by Romney's own logic, he couldn't even count on a vote from his own dad. What really railed Stewart, though, was Romney's claim that the campaign would be easier for him if he were Latino. Watch the clip where he is joined by Al Madrigal and Jessica Williams, who satirically express admiration for Romney's accomplishments as an "underprivileged rich white male."
As the mainstream news media stumbles from one campaign crisis to another, we can thank Comedy Central for offering us two credible sources on the key issues behind the campaign. Stewart and Colbert combine night after night to offer us a refreshing critique of the media coverage of the campaigns and of the spin offered by the candidates. And they do it while entertaining us.
To trope on Bill Clinton, "It's Arithmetic." Colbert and Stewart have shown us that the Romney campaign adds up to lies and insults. Now it's our turn to do the math and decide what this campaign really adds up to.