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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Proud owners of the post-truth campaign

Paul Krugman famously dubbed Romney's drive for the presidency "the post-truth campaign."  You would think the candidate and his organization would take umbrage at such a characterization.  But no, they've embraced it.

I can think of four occasions since October when Romney or his surrogates admitted more or less outright that Romney's words or deeds are either willfully misleading or purely for show.   Most recent first:

1) Today on CNN, Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom responded to a query as follows:
HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.
 Can we call Romney Erasorhead?

2) In the Jan. 26 debate, Gingrich complained about a Romney ad he dubbed misleading in its claim that Gingrich had called Spanish 'the language of the ghetto."  Romney first claimed not to have seen the ad (notwithstanding that it had his imprimatur), and then, confronted with its existence, made this claim for its legitimacy:
We did double-check, just now, Governor, that ad that we talked about, where I quoted you as saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish “the language of the ghetto” — we just double-checked. It was one of your ads. It’s running here in Florida in — on the radio. And at the end you say, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this ad.”
So it is — it is here.
(BOOING)
ROMNEY: Let me ask — let me ask a question.
Let me ask the speaker a question. Did you say what the ad says or not? I don’t know.
GINGRICH: It’s taken totally out of context.
ROMNEY: Oh, OK, he said it.
3) The Romney claim above that context is irrelevant resonated with those who recalled the Romney campaign's deployment of a clip showing Obama saying, "if we talk about the economy, we're going to lose," conveniently omitting the fact that Obama was attributing those words to the McCain campaign (full quote: "Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose’”).  Asked about the deception, a "top Romney operative" said this to the Times' Tom Edsall:
“First of all, ads are propaganda by definition. We are in the persuasion business, the propaganda business…. Ads are agitprop…. Ads are about hyperbole, they are about editing. It’s ludicrous for them to say that an ad is taking something out of context…. All ads do that. They are manipulative pieces of persuasive art.”
In other words, since ads are prone to deception, no level of deception is unacceptable. That is a de facto Romney campaign mantra.

4) In the October 18 Las Vegas debate, Romney, confronted for the nth time with the fact that he used a landscaping company that had an  undocumented alien working on his property, explained himself thus: "We went to the company and we said, look, you can't have any illegals working on our property," he said. "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals."

Steven Benen finds it easy to tote up about ten new verifiable Romney lies every Friday.  Someone should ask Romney if he thinks there's anything wrong with that.

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