I try to keep my exposure to media opinions to a minimum, and to find my way to original source material wherever I can. I don’t like my ideas pre-thought for me by someone else. Hence, this afternoon I found myself perusing the Republicans’ A Pledge to America. On the one hand, I get that vagueness is standard campaign strategy for any minority party. “Hope” and “Change” were pretty vague, too, and many people now find themselves bewildered that Obama doesn’t always hope for precisely the change they thought he would.

While vagueness is an understandable political necessity, outright contradiction, whether of principles or of facts, is another thing. That kept going through my mind as I read this thing.

“America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.”

I don’t know what message I am supposed to be getting from a party that says that the same week it defeated the repeal of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell. Contradiction.

“Rising joblessness…” and “Our economy has declined… with the loss of millions of jobs.”

Huh? Joblessness is falling, not rising. Our economy is growing, not declining. Since the recovery began, the economy has added nearly a million private sector jobs. Sure, these things are too little too late for too many millions, but the rhetoric in the document describes 2007-09, not the present.

“By permanently stopping job-killing tax hikes, families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

This is contradicted firstly by the simple fact that the March 2009 stimulus package included the largest tax cut in history for most Americans. Almost $300 billion of the total $787 billion was tax cuts. It is contadicted secondly by the Republicans’ current unwillingness to extend the middle class tax cuts enacted under President Bush. They do have a stated reason — the Democrats’ opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But the rhetoric in the Pledge is that “families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.” They did not write, “High income business owners will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money so that their companies can grow and other people that didn’t get tax cuts can get jobs.” That is, their tax cutting policy is directed to high income Americans, but the rhetoric of the Pledge makes it sound as if it is directed to middle America. Contradiction.

“We will rein in the red tape factory in Washington, DC by requiring congressional approval of any new federal regulation that may add to our deficit and make it harder to create jobs.”

Okay, this one isn’t a contradiction. I just found it hilarious that the plan for cutting through regulatory red tape is going to be direct intervention by Congress. We will all be able to rest easier when, Congress, that paragon of sleek performance, is on the job.

“…we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, prebailout levels…”

You know, like the good old days… back in 2008. When the government had to borrow… pause… $1.5 trillion to fund its deficit. We are suppose to elect you so you can knock a paltry $100 billion off of spending and return us to days when federal debt was rising faster than it is now? Good job, guys.

[Debt at December 31, 2008: $10.700 trillion. Debt at December 31, 2007: $9.229 trillion. Increase = $1.471 trillion. Source: US Treasury: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/mspd/mspd.htm. I warned you: I go to the original source material.]

“We will require that every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority.”

Besides simply wondering what this “citation” is and who will issue it, the authors of the Pledge need to explain how Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the entire Department of Housing, the non-defense portions of the Department of Energy, the entire Department of Education and, quite frankly, most everything we know our federal government to be today will pass this test. Why do all those long-standing, widely or even universally accepted functions of federal government pass constitutional muster, but somehow the most recent increments do not? Exactly what was the constitutional line that we crossed in January 2009? Or if Republicans in fact do intend to apply constitutional principles fairly, then they should at least give us a little heads up that 90% of the government as we know it will be eliminated. That’d be good to know before the election.