By Andy Schmookler
In almost every campaign speech, I say the real battle in American politics is not about liberal vs. conservative but about honest vs. dishonest. Bob Goodlatte's recent visit to Staunton illustrates that perfectly.
Mr. Goodlatte called a press conference to declare stoutly that yes, people do build their businesses. Following the Republican script, Mr. Goodlatte expressed his disagreement with what he knew President Obama had not said in his speech in Roanoke.
Despite the president's awkward phrasing that Republicans quoted out of context, he clearly never meant to deny an individual's role in creating a successful business. Just a few sentences later, the president said explicitly, "when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative," then adding, "but also because we do things together."
His point was that we all - even, or perhaps especially, the most successful -- owe a lot to our country and to the things that we have created together as a people. We should therefore be willing to contribute our fair share in return.
We have a very good reason to know that the president did not mean what Goodlatte and other Republicans pretend that he meant. No American politician, no matter what he believed, would ever say that. In America, for a politician to deny the achievement of our entrepreneurs is as unthinkable as coming out against motherhood. Whatever else he is, President Obama is an American politician and he is no fool.
Mr. Goodlatte's Staunton press conference is an example of the politics of dishonesty and distraction. It's dishonesty because he tried to get people to believe what he himself knows is false. It's distraction because he tried to fix our attention on a phony issue and away from his failure to address our real challenges.
This has been a do-nothing Congress because that's what Bob Goodlatte and his Republican colleagues wanted. Even before Barack Obama was inaugurated, Republicans in Congress decided that they would do everything they could to make him fail. We know because they said so publicly.
To make the president fail in a time of economic crisis means making the country fail - and hurting tens of millions of Americans. The Republicans were, and are, willing to sacrifice the good of the nation for partisan advantage
The 6th District deserves better. We deserve a representative who won't try to deceive us and won't put partisan ambitions ahead of taking care of the people's business.
Andy Schmookler is the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District.