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06-25-2012, 03:58 PM #1
Mendacious Mitt: Romney's bid to become liar-in-chief
Mendacious Mitt: Romney's bid to become liar-in-chief | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Now, in general, those of us in the pundit class are really not supposed to accuse politicians of lying – they mislead, they embellish, they mischaracterize, etc. Indeed, there is natural tendency for nominally objective reporters, in particular, to stay away from loaded terms such as lying. Which is precisely why Romney's repeated lies are so effective. In fact, lying is really the only appropriate word to use here, because, well, Romney lies a lot. But that's a criticism you're only likely to hear from partisans.
My personal favorite in Romney's cavalcade of untruths is his repeated assertion that President Obama has apologized for America. In his book, appropriately titled "No Apologies", Romney argues the following:
"Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined. It is his way of signaling to foreign countries and foreign leaders that their dislike for America is something he understands and that is, at least in part, understandable."Nothing about this sentence is true.
President Obama never went around the world and apologized for America – and yet, even after multiple news organizations have pointed out this is a "pants on fire" lie, Romney keeps making it. Indeed, the "Obama apology tour", along with the president bowing down to the King of Saudi Arabia, are practically the lodestars of the GOP's criticism of Obama's foreign policy performance (the Saudi thing isn't true either).
But foreign policy is a relatively light area of mistruth for the GOP standard-bearer. The economy is really where the truth takes its greatest vacation in Romney world.
First, there is Romney's claim that the 2009 stimulus passed by Congress and signed by President Obama "didn't work". According to Romney, "that stimulus didn't put more private-sector people to work." While one can quibble over whether the stimulus went far enough, the idea that it didn't create private-sector jobs has no relationship to reality. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus bill created more than 3m jobs – a view shared by 80% of economists polled by the Chicago Booth School of Business (only 4% disagree).
Romney also likes to argue that the stimulus didn't help private-sector job growth, but rather helped preserve government jobs. In fact, the Obama years have been witness to massive cuts in government employment. While the private sector is not necessarily "doing fine", as Obama said in a recent White House press conference, it's doing a heck of a lot better than the public sector.
And the list goes on. Romney has accused Obama of raising taxes – in reality, they've gone down under his presidency, and largely because of that stimulus bill that Romney loves to criticize. He's accused the president of doubling the deficit. In fact, it's actually gone down on Obama's watch.
Romney took credit for the success of the auto bailout – even though he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt". He's said repeatedly that businesses in America see Obama as the "enemy", and that under his presidency "free enterprise" and economic freedom" are at risk of disappearing. In reality, since taking office, corporate profits, industrial production and the stock market are up, while corporate bankruptcies have actually decreased.
Then, there is the recent Romney nugget that the Obama administration passed Obamacare with the full knowledge that it "would slow down the economic recovery in this country" and that the White House "knew that before they passed it". It's an argument so clearly spun from whole cloth that according to Jonathan Chait, the acerbic political columnist for New York Magazine, Romney is "Just Making Stuff Up Now".
Also of Obamacare, Romney has said that it will lead to the government taking over 50% of the economy (not true) – its true cost can't be computed (that's why we have a Congressional Budget Office in the United States); that it will create to "a massive European-style entitlement" (many liberals wish this were true, but alas, it is not); and that it will lead to a government-run healthcare system (a lie so pervasive that it's practically become shorthand for Republicans – yet it too, like the infamous made-up death panels of the health care debate, is simply not accurate).
The lying from the Romney campaign is so out-of-control that Steve Benen, a blogger and producer for the Rachel Maddow show compiles a weekly list of "Mitt's Mendacity" that is chockfull of new untruths. Benen appears unlikely to run out of material any time soon, particularly since Romney persists in repeating the same lies over and over, even after they've been debunked.
This is perhaps the most interesting and disturbing element of Romney's tireless obfuscation: that even when corrected, it has little impact on the presumptive GOP nominee's behavior. This is happening at a time when fact-checking operations in major media outlets have increased significantly, yet that appears to have no effect on the Romney campaign.
What is the proper response when, even after it's pointed out that the candidate is not telling the truth, he keeps doing it? Romney actually has a telling rejoinder for this. When a reporter challenged his oft-stated assertion that President Obama had made the economy worse (factually, not correct), he denied ever saying it in the first place. It's a lie on top of a lie.
Now, it's certainly true that on the campaign trail, facts can be stretched in many different directions – and both parties, including President Obama, frequently make arguments that are misleading, lacking in context or simply false. But it is virtually unheard of for a politician to lie with such reckless abandon and appear completely unconcerned about getting caught.
Back in the old days (that is, pre-2008) it would have been considered unimaginable that a politician would lie as brazenly as Romney does – for fear of embarrassment or greater scrutiny. When Joe Biden was accused of plagiarizing British Labor Leader Neil Kinnock's speeches in 1988, it derailed his presidential aspirations. When Al Gore was accused of exaggerating his role in "inventing the internet" (which, actually, was sort of true), it became a frequent attack line that hamstrung his credibility. Romney has done far worse than either of these candidates – yet it's hard to discern the negative impact on his candidacy.
Romney has figured out a loophole – one can lie over and over, and those lies quickly become part of the political narrative, practically immune to "fact-checking". Ironically, the more Romney lies, the harder it then becomes to correct the record. Even if an enterprising reporter can knock down two or three falsehoods, there are still so many more that slip past.
It's reminiscent of the old line that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. In Romney's case, his lies are regularly corrected by media sources, but usually, in some antiseptic fact-checking article, or by Democratic/liberal voices who can be dismissed for their "partisan bent". Meanwhile, splashed across the front page of newspapers is Romney saying "Obamacare will lead to a government take-over of healthcare"; "Obama went on an apology tour"; or "the stimulus didn't create any jobs". Because, after all, it's what the candidate said and reporters dutifully must transcribe it.
Pointing out that Romney is consistently not telling the truth thus risks simply falling into the category of the usual "he-said, she-said" of American politics. For cynical reporters, the behavior is inevitably seen to be the way the political game is now played. Rather than being viewed and ultimately exposed as examples of a pervasive pattern of falsehoods, Romney's statements embed themselves in the normalized political narrative – along with aggrieved Democrats complaining that Romney isn't telling the truth. Meanwhile, the lie sticks in the minds of voters.
As MSNBC's Steve Benen told me:
"Romney gets away with it because he and his team realize contemporary political journalism isn't equipped to deal with a candidate who lies this much, about so many topics, so often."
06-25-2012, 04:10 PM #2
I find this to be one of the great ironies of the Internet age. Far from creating an environment where lies can be easily exposed and dismissed, it has instead created an echo chamber environment in which lies are impervious to being exposed at all. Best of all, when someone does expose the lie, the partisans on the side that's lying dig into their position even deeper, because they have invested too much into it to abandon it.
It's all very sweet, isn't it?
I don't see the way out of this conundrum. Truth -- I don't mean philosophical truth, but easily verifiable facts -- truth has become completely relative. It's mind boggling to contemplate, but that's the power of both personal conviction and tribalism for you.
06-25-2012, 04:53 PM #3
So you're saying what, exactly? That Romney has lied more than any president ever? More than Barack Obama? Or just lied period? Surely you would agree that no one politician has the market cornered on lying...
06-25-2012, 05:13 PM #4
Last edited by hueytaxi; 06-25-2012 at 05:24 PM.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
06-25-2012, 05:24 PM #5
Surely this will convince people to vote for the friend of the service employee unions.'Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.
06-25-2012, 06:04 PM #6MotownSports Fan
- Join Date
- Jul 2003
Actually, Romad1 is spot-on. Mitt Romney can say whatever he wants. Anyone who'll notice or care about him lying wasn't going to vote for him anyway. The "independents" don't pay close enough attention for it to matter and it's not like he'll ever have to answer tough questions from a reporter...Even if he did, that could be written off as librul media playa-hatin'. If anything, lying helps him-- spouting off a few whoppers as red meat to his base might actually motivate them to vote for a guy willing to tell it like it is about the Kenyan Soshalist Usurper. Hatred of Obama and unlimited money are the only things he has going for him-- take those two away and he's a dog-torturing anti-Christian cultist who would refuse a beer from you (and not because he's a macho former alkie like GWB) as far as the Republican electorate is concerned.
06-25-2012, 06:15 PM #7
Why the assumption of so many liberals, that Barry is an object of hate?Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
06-25-2012, 06:22 PM #8
06-25-2012, 07:05 PM #9
06-25-2012, 07:23 PM #10
I've never heard anyone say they hate Obama Displeasure does not equal hate in a rational mind not biased with political self importance.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
06-25-2012, 07:24 PM #11
06-25-2012, 07:29 PM #12
I report. You decide.
What do these pictures illustrate to you? Are you saying these are "proof" of the "Obama apologizes to the world" mantra?
Because if that's your intent, I'm not seeing it, so maybe I'm missing your point, and there was something else you were showing by posting these pictures.Of all the things in life I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
06-25-2012, 10:17 PM #14
In Cohen's diatribe he claimed it was false that Obama bowed to the Saudi king. Only showing that he did and also to others. Personally I see it as a posture of respect, not subservience.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
ah, ok. I see. Thanks.Of all the things in life I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
06-25-2012, 11:08 PM #16
My guess is that it may take another 15 yrs, but eventually we will find a way - probably via the net now instead of the broadcast world, to re-create a situation where credible voices again re-emerge. I hope so anyway. I doubt if any culture can long survive a total lack of public voices with wide enough social credibility to call out public liars.It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting. - Tom Stoppard
2013 AAT: Javier Betancourt (GCL Tigers/IF)
06-26-2012, 03:50 AM #17
The published writers saw the demise of their articles as TV took the forefront and returned to what would become "investagative journalism". They exposed the cherished anchors as news readers rather than reporters any more. TV journalism changed to reflect the politics of ownership and contributors. I grew up listening and watching Douglas Edwards before Walter Cronkite took the reins of CBS Evening News. So trusted by America. Cronkite's political views on the war in RVN certainly changed public opinion and shortened US involvement. Was he right in doing so? Was it his duty? At the time, I ceased watching him in anger.
Last edited by hueytaxi; 06-26-2012 at 03:57 AM.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
06-26-2012, 12:05 PM #18
Love these outrageous thread titles...I'm traveling so the inevitable counter fire from me will have to wait.
I think I would merely call President Obama foolishly naive.'Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.
06-26-2012, 01:57 PM #19It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting. - Tom Stoppard
2013 AAT: Javier Betancourt (GCL Tigers/IF)
06-26-2012, 06:36 PM #20
06-26-2012, 06:44 PM #21
06-26-2012, 06:46 PM #22
06-27-2012, 11:34 AM #23
In a most eloquent way, John Dickerson nails the problem for Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney is working hard to avoid offering any specifics about his policies. - Slate Magazine
Mitt Romney doesn’t want to say anything, specifically.
By John Dickerson|Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012, at 7:47 PM ET
To find out what Mitt Romney will do as president, you might have to vote for him first
Mitt Romney has a problem with specifics. Since Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin, a growing number of Republicans have been calling for something more from him. His recent responses on questions from tax reform to immigration have been thin or nonexistent. When reporters tried to get an answer about the candidate’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, his spokesperson was so evasive, my colleagues might want to plant a mulberry bush in the press section to make the next round of the game more lively. Usually you have to win the White House before you can be that skilled at ducking and weaving.
But wait. A Romney campaign aide told Politico’s Jonathan Martin, when he wrote about this topic, that they have offered an "unprecedented" level of specificity. How can these two things both be true? To understand the disconnect, think of an ad for a prescription drug in a magazine. On one page there is an uplifting, well-lit picture of a healthy woman walking through a sunlit glen on the way to success. On the following two pages is all the fine print and possible side effects. Romney is specific about the glen and the breeze—tax cuts; more jobs for everyone; innovation; no more waste, fraud, and abuse—but is not so specific about the two pages of complexity and possible consequence.
Is Romney offering an “unprecedented” level of specificity? This is an exciting claim, but it is contradicted by history. Next to me is my worn copy of Renewing America's Purpose, the 450-page volume of George W. Bush's policy addresses and proposals from 1999-2000. By this time in the 2000 campaign, Bush had unveiled a lot more policy than Romney has, including a plan to offer workers the ability to invest some of their Social Security money in private accounts. "Mr. Bush is dominating the policy debate," the Economist wrote 12 years ago this month. "[He] has seized on the opportunities to appear both bipartisan and statesmanlike."
It's also hard for the Romney campaign to boast about specificity when the candidate is doing the opposite. He's talked about why he won’t give details because specificity was used against him in his Senate race and how his programs can't be evaluated by any experts because he hasn’t provided details.
How then can the Romney campaign claim to be so specific? The same way politicians like to believe that a response is the same as an answer. In background material offered by the campaign to show where Romney has been specific, many of the items were not so much Romney proposals but criticisms of President Obama. (This is also true of Romney’s 160-page briefing book [pdf] titled Believe in America, which should have the subtitle Because Obama Doesn’t.) A host of statements were generalities—a quotation from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan outlining mistakes that caused Wall Street’s collapse, and calls for "dynamic regulations." In the section on financial system reform, Romney's adviser Glenn Hubbard is quoted from a Wall Street Journal article, saying that Romney would replace "the new system for dismantling failing financial companies that was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law with a new system, which [Hubbard] declined to specify."
The Romney campaign is specific about some things. Romney will enact a 5-percent cut of nonsecurity spending on Day One of his presidency. He'll privatize Amtrak and reduce subsidies for NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—all of which is very specific but not highly consequential policy. He will repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is very specific. But he refuses to get specific about what will replace it. He’s more specific about Medicare—seniors would be provided with a specified amount of money to purchase benefits, and private plans could compete—but details about how benefits would keep up with health costs are vague.
When CBS’s Bob Schieffer asked Tim Pawlenty, who launched his presidential campaign on the idea of telling hard truths, where Romney was being specific, the former Minnesota governor mentioned tax reform. Naming an issue area is not being specific. Adviser Eric Fehrnstrom offered Romney’s plan for reducing the corporate tax rate as an example of specificity. Saying you're going to reduce corporate tax rates is the easy part; naming the loopholes to do so is harder. The word “loopholes” appears only twice in the 160-page Romney policy document: "Meanwhile, loopholes favor those with the best lobbyists. If we close loopholes and lower the tax rate, the American people and corporations will win." (#winning).
When Gov. Romney was asked just what loopholes he would close to lower corporate and individual taxes, he said he'll work with Congress on that when he’s elected. One of the funniest things Nancy Pelosi ever said was that Congress had to pass the Affordable Care Act to know what was in it. Romney makes a variant of that claim here: To know what he will do, we must elect him.
The Romney campaign responds that the president has not been specific, either. This is true. The best example was Obama’s refusal to back the specifics of the Simpson-Bowles commission. (It was a commission he commissioned which makes this a sin of commission.) But just because President Obama's posture is slouchy doesn't erase the fact that Romney is in the fetal position. Implicit in the Romney campaign's criticism of President Obama's specificity is a standard of how detailed one should be. But the Romney campaign would not like that standard to be applied to its candidate.
Obama may not achieve the Platonic ideal of specificity, but he's well ahead of Mitt Romney. On loopholes, for example, President Obama has proposed a host he would remove (found on pages 202-05 of this Treasury Department explanation of the administration’s revenue proposals). The largest one (explained on pages 73-74) would close loopholes ("tax expenditures") for the wealthy by reducing (but not eliminating) the value of itemized deductions. Obama's framework for reducing corporate tax rates can be found here.
Presidents are always more specific than their challengers because they have to actually put things on paper. In fact, it is President Obama's specificity that Mitt Romney is actually running against, in the form of the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, the Recovery Act, and the auto bail-out. Obama can't both lack a plan for dealing with Medicare costs and be attacked for hatching the Independent Payment Advisory Board that is supposed to hold down Medicare costs. There’s more than enough in all of that for voters to evaluate the president's priorities, his manner, and his effectiveness on those policies. For a challenger without a recent governing past or a rich history, specificity is one way to evaluate him as a possible president.
So is Mitt Romney trying to get away with something? At the moment, yes, but there’s plenty of time left in the campaign for him to get specific. Imagine if Gov. Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. He'd go from policy avoidance to basing his entire campaign on one of the most detailed campaign documents ever: the Ryan budget. The political debate would be filled with plumes of charts and graphs. The big important debate we should be having about the role of government in American life would finally start. The speeches would probably get no shorter and the policy books would not shrink, but we might actually find something useful in them.
"If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once convinced a woman that I was Kevin Costner and it worked... because I believed it!" - Saul Goodman
06-27-2012, 04:23 PM #24
06-27-2012, 04:31 PM #25
06-27-2012, 05:34 PM #26
Dickerson brought up a good example, being the 2000 Bush campaign. By this time, Bush had made some serious policy statements, while in present day, Romney has provided little to no substance to any of his arguments.
Honestly, I don't expect him to open up much... I tend to believe his actual beliefs wouldn't be very popular with the American people and he scores more points by giving Obama the ad-hominem treatment at every turn."If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once convinced a woman that I was Kevin Costner and it worked... because I believed it!" - Saul Goodman
06-27-2012, 06:12 PM #27"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
William Earnest Harwell (1918-2010), from the Song of Solomon.
06-27-2012, 06:36 PM #28
I agree that Romney needs to talk more specifically about many of his plans, but weren't the media criticizing him for his 53-point economic plan just a few months ago, saying that it was TOO specific and technical?
06-27-2012, 08:16 PM #29
I would bet a fly on the wall of Romney's Campaign Central would reveal a team very concerned about the debates with Obama, since it is probable that the difference in rhetoric and delivery between the two will favor Obama. To wit, if Romney is forced to be more specific regarding his attacks on Obama during the debate, that could backfire on him.
06-27-2012, 09:01 PM #30MotownSports Fan
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
Secondly, do you really want to talk about gaffes with Biden and Obama...bitter clingers, business is doing fine and all that?
Lastly, the debates will be interesting. No doubt Obama has more charisma but his 2008 soaring rhetoric is now carrying the weight of a record. The fact that they think Kerry is a good stand in for debate prep though shows me that they aren't going to be prepared for a candidate with actual intellectual firepower. By all accounts, including his academic record, Romney will be formidable.
06-27-2012, 10:02 PM #31
06-27-2012, 10:03 PM #32
06-27-2012, 10:03 PM #33
06-27-2012, 10:05 PM #34When our weapons are more precious than our children, our society is broken
hands like escalators.
06-28-2012, 02:09 AM #35
What did Obama run on other than the ambiguous "Hope" and "change". I came close to voting for him until I could not find his platform.Live your life for what it can be and not for what it was.
MMXIII AAT: TYLER CLARK
06-28-2012, 02:39 AM #36
From a political standpoint, it's a good strategy, but I wish we could have a good campaign about ideas from all sides.VT
06-28-2012, 11:07 AM #37
06-30-2012, 01:44 AM #38
Romney lies a lot, so does Obama, news sites ignore one and point out the other based on political preference, the earth orbits the sun and humanity slowly marches towards it's inevitable destructionKobernoooooous
07-01-2012, 05:07 AM #39
07-01-2012, 12:06 PM #40
Obviously I've paraphrased a lot but come on, can you find me a single politician who didn't "stretch the truth" a lot while running for office? Has anyone actually kept their campaign promises? (or had any intention to do so)
Remember when Obama was going to be the Anti-Bush in the War on Terror/Civil Liberties? Yeah, I guess he was telling the full on truth in that one. But nah, It's only Mitt Romney who would lie about his opponent and his own views to get elected.
And don't get me even started on Joe "We kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon" Biden
For that matter, if we're going to be serious it's pretty obvious that I'm a better source and more likely to be accurate than an article that references Jonathan freaking Chait as some sort of impartial newsman
Last edited by pyrotigers; 07-01-2012 at 12:13 PM.Kobernoooooous
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