Commentary by Norman Siler, 14 Oct 2012
In the aftermath of the vice president candidates debate there’s a lots of froth and flailing about whether Vice President Joe Biden or want-to-be successor Rep. Paul Ryan delivered the more impassioned assortment of persuasive points. To me, the opening salvoes turned in the VP’s favor when he said “malarkey.”
The back-and-forth between Rep. Ryan and Vice President Biden was just a couple of minutes old when Joe Biden said it in response to moderator Martha Raddatz trying to focus the dialogue when she asked, “Why is that so?”
Here’s why it fits Paul Ryan exactly.
One-third of the massive federal budget each year is allotted by Congress, the budget which Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget committee drafts and submits to the full House of Representatives 435 members to vote upon. (The other two-thirds, according to several impartial private sector sources, like About.com, is mandatory spending, things like Social Security which gets funding from a dedicated tax separate from income taxes.) As they formulated it more than five months ago for Fiscal Year 2013, which began October 1, the Budget committee ignored past agreements and spending priorities requested by the Defense Dept. and its Joint Chiefs of Staff (source: CNN). Apparently, they drafted a Defense budget shaped by Defense Dept. contractor lobbyists instead. The full House adopted that budget, but it never got any further, because it was just sought by the House itself. Not by President Obama, not by a majority of senators, not by any of the uniformed services or Secretary Leon Panetta.
The House of Representatives and the Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan voted for a Defense budget no one else wanted.
Ms. Raddatz actually asked each candidate for an opinion about Libya, and their comments evolved into whether the Obama administration reacted in a manner seeming to appear weak in the eyes of other nations, of Libyans, of terrorists. (It was the first question posed and the full transcript is easily found searching online, if anyone is curious about the progression.) Paul Ryan then talked about Afghanistan and our troops there winding down an eleven year old war, about Syria and where guns are coming in, and focused strictly on military force as America’s way to project strength, not weakness.
Until Joe Biden interrupted with, “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.”
For voters across America keeping our standing among nations as a leader is important. Very, very important. Many voice it with a Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Many sense it when they see and hear about our military might. Many assume it because the US dollar has been the base currency for world trade throughout most of our lifetimes, since at least 1945. A large minority of Americans also believe our customary readiness to seek ways of smoothing different viewpoints into a compromise, which is what our diplomats do with other nations, sets America at the top of world leadership.
Unlike most of us, Rep. Paul Ryan considers Defense Dept. forces as America’s only way to assert our strengths. Our many strengths.
He talks only about dealing with Iran in terms of attacking it. He talked last night about Syria and Libya and other Mideast nations in terms of how many Marines and other uniformed service personnel are deployed there. And, he led the House of Representatives, beginning in the Budget committee onward through a full House member vote last May, to put more scarce federal budget dollars into the Defense Dept. budget than anyone else asked for.
How scarce are federal dollars? There are several trillion spent each year.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and almost every single Republican, including many seeking election to Congress for the first or second time, insist that dedicated funds for Social Security and other federal programs must cut back spending. They tell Americans that Obamacare must be repealed because it costs too much, though that same Mitt Romney while governor of Massachusetts pressured the George Bush administration for federal assistance starting it up BECAUSE a majority agreed it would save money over the long run. They urge future Social Security recipients under age 55 to expect less when they someday apply for its monthly benefit; they bellow alarms that Medicare is going broke and each one enrolled in future years will get only part of the coverage premium, having to go to insurers for whatever additional medical care expense sharing they can get. They blame teachers and most other public sector employees for costing taxpayers too much. They have no explanation for cutting back spending for diplomacy by the State department and for security of its personnel all around the world.
Military weapons get more, more even than any Defense decision maker wants. It will be handed out by Republicans seeking election this November.
Vice President Joe Biden didn’t stumble or speak anything but exactly right when he said, “Malarkey.”