Thus primed, I had a memory flash while reading Romney's response when a reporter asked him whether he agreed that Obama should be tried for treason. "No, of course not," Romney said. Of course not! Never mind verbal assaults like this one, delivered two years ago, a precursor of the daily Romney demagoguery to which we've all become numb. It's a statement Romney released on March 22, 2010, in the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act:
America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.What's "twisted" is Romney's signature mode of attack. The statement reeks of overcompensation and the most histrionic if cynically calculated aggression. Every verb carries its own lie, distorting a form of engagement required by every legislative act.
He calls his accomplishment “historic” — in this he is correct, although not for the reason he intends. Rather, it is an historic usurpation of the legislative process — he unleashed the nuclear option, enlisted not a single Republican vote in either chamber, bribed reluctant members of his own party, paid-off his union backers, scapegoated insurers, and justified his act with patently fraudulent accounting. What Barack Obama has ushered into the American political landscape is not good for our country; in the words of an ancient maxim, “what starts twisted, ends twisted.”
The ACA was of course a structural clone of Romney's own health reform law in Massachusetts. It passed with no Republican support because Romney's GOP allies opposed it with the same bad faith on exhibit above. Nonetheless it passed with 60 Senate votes; it fulfilled a campaign promise; every permutation of the draft legislation was published on the web; and it was delayed by Obama's extraordinary, Quixotic quest for good-faith engagement by Republicans who had every ideological and substantive reason to support its basic structure, a Republican invention.
Romney is in some ways more offensive than the kind of demagogue whose smears and distortions answer to some personal need or obsession. There is no position he won't adopt, nothing he won't say about an opponent to get himself elected.