So It Goes 

How many lies can one political convention hold?

We just lost seven Marines in Fallujah. To use Linda Ellerbee's line, "And so it goes."

The way it does not go is as was claimed last week at the Republican convention. I feel like the janitor in that photo of Madison Square Garden after the party, facing a sea of garbage that needs to be thrown out. Even after several days, it's hard to cite all the lies. The number of things John Kerry is supposed to have said that he never said was the largest category.

Kerry never said we need to have a "sensitive war." (Bonus points if you can find Bush's references to our need for more sensitivity.) Kerry never said we need other countries' permission to go to war. Kerry has never failed to "support our troops in combat."

The whole list of defense programs Kerry supposedly voted against mostly came out of one vote against a huge defense package in 1990. He supported a smaller package, as did then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.

The United States has not gained jobs under George Bush. The net job loss is 1.1 million jobs, according to the Bush Department of Labor.

Special bonus points for the novel charge by Cheney that Kerry wants to "show al-Qaeda our softer side." Showing real imagination there.

Then we have what can most kindly be called differences of interpretation. Are things peachy-keen in Afghanistan? Hunky-dory in Iraq? Or are the only things that have fully recovered in Afghanistan the warlords and the opium trade? What have we created in Iraq -- freedom or more terrorists? In either case, none dare call it peace.

In fact, what we're looking at across the board is evidence of massive incompetence. It has always seemed to me a bad idea to put a party full of people who are against government in principle in charge of running it. They just don't seem to do a very good job. In case you hadn't noticed, we have gone from massive surplus to massive deficit, and the only people who really benefited were the richest 1 percent of Americans. That leaves the other 99 percent of us worse off than we were four years ago.

And I really had to take a deep breath after Bush declared that he wants to "get government on your side." Where has he been for the last four years? Almost every program he mentioned, saying he wanted to build them up, he has already cut, including job training. And I am truly dazzled by his claim that No Child Left Behind, which is massively underfunded, has somehow mysteriously become a great success. If you believe that, have I got a bridge for you.

His peculiar contention that our policy in Iraq is a triumph is close to bizarre. What we have there is dangerous chaos. Does anyone honestly think this occupation is going well?

I thought the saddest theme was about how September 11th had united us -- and then, for reasons never explained (except by Zell Miller at his worst), half the country and most of the rest of the world just sort of drifted away. How could that have happened? Could George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have had anything to do with it? For example, did they tell us a lot of things that aren't true? Republicans seemed to find it all a great mystery.

Molly Ivins writes for Creators Syndicate and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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