Ginger considers herself a low information voter who pays no attention to politics until there’s an election. Although she supported Barack Obama in 2008, the 47-year old executive assistant in Ohio was undecided about who would get her vote this time.
“I’ve been disappointed with Obama,” she says. Ginger doesn’t want her last name used or the city where she lives identified because she is in line for a promotion and raise, and her boss is a Romney supporter and donor. “But when I watched the debate Monday, even I knew Romney was lying.
“All politicians break promises, say they’ll do one thing during a campaign and then something else once they get elected,” Ginger continues. “But as little attention as I pay to current affairs, I realized that Romney kept saying things that just aren’t true. I can’t vote for an outright liar.”
As Romney stood on the stage at Hofstra University Monday night in the second debate with Pres. Obama, he continued to rely on the half-truths, total fabrications of facts and outright lies that have been the hallmark of his quest for The White House. Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress counted 27 lies – he called them myths but Sisyphus is a myth, Romney is a liar – in the first 38 minutes of the event.
Steve Benen at Maddowblog began documenting The Mendacity Of Mitt throughout the primaries and general election, a weekly tally of Romney fabrications now numbering some 40 separate entries of anywhere from 10-to-20 items each. With the election looming, the question no longer is whether Romney is a liar but rather why he is congenitally incapable of telling the truth.
Governments have always lied, usually in war time and often to protect a legitimate secret. For example, during World War II, General Eisenhower often didn’t tell his commanders Nazi battlefield plans that Ike learned from the Ultra code breakers at Bletchley Park ‘lest Hilter figure out that the Allies were reading his mail.
But mendacious lying as government policy really started with Lyndon Johnson and The Gulf Of Tonkin ”incident.” LBJ fabricated a North Vietnamese attack on a naval ship to get Congress to approve a war resolution, a lie that cost 50,000 American lives. Nixon lied about everything from his Cambodia invasion to Watergate. Ronald Reagan and Bush The Elder lied about Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton lied about Monica. George W. Bush and his top advisors told 935 documented lies to Congress and the public to justify his illegal invasion of Iraq, a lie that cost thousands of American and more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths.
It is one thing for government and politicians to lie when protecting a genuine state secret, like the Manhattan Project or planning the raid on bin Laden’s compound. It is another thing entirely for a presidential candidate to elevate lying to an art form, hoping he can fool enough of the people all of the time to get elected.
And Mitt Romney lies about everything, from how he made his hundreds of millions of dollars to what he would do with taxes Medicare, Pell Grants, Wall St., pay equity, voting rights and everything else.
Omission And Comission
“I can’t figure out why he lies so much,” wonders Steve Putnam, a middle manager at a small company in another swing state, Colorado. Putnam, 42, has a daughter in high school who’s already thinking about university. He says he was an ‘undecided’ until the second debate, and now will vote for Obama.
“Monday night he said he would expand Pell Grants but he and (running mate Paul) Ryan have both said they would cut them. Didn’t he tell students to borrow the money from their parents for school?” he asks. “If I had forty or fifty thousand dollars, doesn’t he think I’d give it to Melissa for her education?”
“He said he would make student loans more affordable,” Putnam adds, “but when I looked at his website, Romney says he will use banks again as a middle man for student loans. How does that make college more affordable?”
Despite being called out repeatedly for fib-telling – including by both the President and the moderator at Monday’s debate – Romney continues to operate in a fact-free zone.
How he came to be such an inveterate liar will be speculated on by journalists and academics for some time, regardless of the outcome on Nov. 6. One theory is that he doesn’t know the difference and actually believes his own “myths.” Or he may believe that voters are so ill-informed he can get away with lying. Another possible reason is that he is so desperate to win after running for president for seven years that he will say anything to get a vote.
“From a distance, it strikes me that Romney thinks he can pull off saying whatever he wants without getting ‘fact checked,’” states a Minneapolis psychiatrist who cautions that arm chair analysis can be risky.
“He knows MSNBC will call him on everything, and Fox will let him say whatever pops into his head,” the doctor speculates. “But he also figures, probably correctly, that local TV and newspapers don’t have the staff, time or depth to asterisk each untruth. And local media is where most people get their news and information.”
Journalist and author Denis G. Campbell wonders if it is more sinister. In his newest book, Campbell – who also is editor-in-chief of this publication – speculates that the root of Romney’s readiness to lie is can be found in his Mormon religion. Not only did Joseph Smith prophesize that a Mormon would assume a position of great national power, he said that it was perfectly acceptable to lie to achieve a leadership position.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of the Romney book.)
What is incredible is that in the age of YouTube and the internet, Romney thinks he can get away with saying anything he feels like and no one will notice. But if people like Ginger are noticing, then his chances don’t look good.
Thursday was the 161st anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick. Mitt Romney is giving Herman Melville a run for his money in spinning whale-sized stories. The difference is Melville wrote a novel; Romney is trying to lie his way into The White House.
Follow Charley on Twitter @SuddenlyHomeles.
(Charley was given a review copy of my book because I greatly respect his opinion and much of my writing today I owe to lessons learned from him. -Ed.)