Coffee-out-the-nose positions from the GOP

The next four months will be politically compelling. And then some. It will be a cautionary tale, a morality play, and stylized Kabuki theater all intersecting on Nov. 6. The stakes could not be higher. This will be a crossroads election and, hopefully, a mandate election.

Here is what perplexes thus far: According to June polls, President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a dead heat. Seriously?

Consider the following coffee-out-the-nose statements made by candidate Romney and his Republican cohorts, those purveyors of revisionist political history, always hopeful that most Americans are either not paying attention or have chronic amnesia.

Speaking at a campaign rally, Romney, wearing his de rigueur open collar shirt and everyman jeans, said, in response to a question alleging that his party was conducting a war on women: "Republicans are extraordinarily pro-women."

Recall that he said just days before that he would, when elected, defund and "get rid of" Planned Parenthood. He said this with such urgency and concern that it seemed he might hand the issue over to Homeland Security. Now, the last time anyone checked, this agency offers a panoply of reproductive health services to women, mostly poor women, from pap smears to breast exams and family planning counseling.

Regarding his policy on education, Romney stated, "Wouldn't it be great if we could look back on the last four years with confidence that the crisis had been confronted and we'd turned the corner to a brighter future?"

What crisis? The one created by No Child Left Behind? What corner is to be turned? He came close to proclaiming there was a shining, one-room schoolhouse up on a hill. Romney, visiting a Philadelphia school, sitting at a roundtable discussion with teachers, said, "All the talk about we need small classroom size "… that's promoted by the teachers unions to hire more teachers," then insisted that there was no correlation between class size and student performance. Words to live by. But then some 250,000 teachers have been laid off over the past four years (austerity being the Republican mantra), so let's assume, in Romney world, with fewer teachers and larger classes, that quality education is now poised to really take off.

We know that Dick Cheney was the power behind the throne for eight long years. Romney, it seems, gets goosebumpy when thinking about bringing the V.P. off the bench and into his administration, referring to him as a "man of wisdom and judgment." The Obi-Wan Kenobi of the GOP. Or, in the alternative, Darth Vader, the architect of rendition, enhanced interrogation, the Iraq war, warrantless eavesdropping, once again installed in the halls of government. Can't wait.

And why is the governor always smiling? What does he know that we don't? Well, he's aware that the Republicans are, in state after state, putting in place voter suppression laws that require government photo IDs. The rationale? Voter fraud. Pure fiction. An urban legend. The number of documented voter fraud cases nationwide is miniscule.

The strategy of the Republican Party is not to eliminate "fraud"; rather, it's the calculated disenfranchisement of all those not in possession of a government ID — the elderly and out-of-state-students, nuns and minorities, who often vote Democratic. And not to forget that this GOP strategy is a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 15th Amendment. It's also the contemporary equivalent of a poll tax or a literacy test, an insidious means of blocking sizable numbers of people from voting.

Sound implausible? Pennsylvania's House Majority Leader, Republican Mike Turzai, admitted with breathtaking arrogance that "Voter ID is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done."

A few final items that qualify as coffee out the nose: No matter what Romney insists, President Obama has not gone around the world apologizing for America. Never happened.

Since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the governor will, if elected, "on day one," repeal and replace. Once again insurance companies will be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Sick kids covered? No longer. Medical bankruptcies? Back with devastating effect. Preventive screenings? Nope. What will Romney replace "Obamacare" with? No idea.

The Paul Ryan Budget — Dickensian in the extreme and endorsed by Romney — will favor the wealthy, tax the poor and turn Medicare into a voucher system. The safety net will look like a colander.

Billions in oil company subsidies (imagine how many schools could be renovated, teachers, firefighters and police back on the job)? Continued.

Global warming? Romney and the GOP continue to insist that the science is inconclusive. Reduce the EPA to an acorn.

Be prepared to suspend your disbelief as the GOP runs ads financed by obscenely rich contributors to anonymous PACs. And remember: no coffee drinking during a Romney speech. Okay, a double espresso before he begins.

Chris Honoré lives in Ashland.

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