As E. J. Dionne put it on 14 October 2012, “You can imagine Romney someday saying: “Politicians are products, my friend.” There’s no other way to explain why a candidate would seem to believe he can alter what he stands for at will. His campaign has been an exercise in identifying which piece of the electorate he needs at any given moment and adjusting his views, sometimes radically, to suit this requirement.” To an extent unprecedented in our history, Americans are confronted with a candidate of a major political party who demonstrates no constancy beyond his unrelenting ambition. Mitt Romney will say anything he believes will lure citizens into voting for him even if it contradicts what he said on the same topic the day before to a different group. This has been documented throughout the campaign, but so far, Mr. Romney seems to be getting away with a brazen and audacious confidence game.
Americans are witnessing a candidate for the presidency who has a pervasive conviction deficiency. He is powerfully ambitious and he is genuinely clever, but he has no core principles. It may be that Mitt Romney is a pathological liar, or he may be a hypocrite. Be that as it may, it should be obvious by now that relentless ambition is the enduring characteristic of this man. Consequently, deceitful words and pandering actions come easily in the service of this powerful, pervasive ambition.
This behavior has raised speculation in some quarters about Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASP). A person who is calculating, manipulative, deceitful and superficially charming exhibits characteristics used to diagnose ASP. A skilled, recurrent liar who cons others for personal gain and displays little or no remorse for having harmed others or who invents one rationalization after another for having precipitated harm to others while gaining personally. For much of his professional life, Romney and his partners pillaged the assets of corporations and shareholders they had duped into believing Bain Management would make flourish. Mitt and his cohorts shuttered businesses and raided employee’s pensions all for the personal profit of themselves and their investors. Now in campaigning for the presidency, Mitt alludes to his record of job creation. Not only is he unremorseful; he is blatantly dishonest.
Mitt Romney claims his experience as the head of Bain Capital is his main credential for the presidency. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, this argument is bogus. As former Reagan Budget Director, specifies, “Except Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. He did not build enterprises the old-fashioned way—out of inspiration, perspiration, and a long slog in the free market fostering a new product, service, or process of production.” Essentially Romney was a financial predator who used favorable regulatory conditions “to strip mine cash from healthy businesses and recycle it” mainly to himself and other members of the 1%. As Stockman explains, “The whole business [private equity] was about maximizing debt, extracting cash, cutting head counts, skimping on capital spending, outsourcing production, and dressing up the deal for the earliest, highest-profit exit possible. Occasionally, we did invest in genuine growth companies, but without cheap debt and deep tax subsidies, most deals would not make economic sense.” In truth, LBOs are vulture investors who feed on failing businesses, but in a bad policy environment, they become monsters who actively kill enterprises as well as feed upon the dead and dying. This vulture capitalism is the true nature of Mitt Romney’s professional experience and the real source of most of his significant wealth. For campaign purposes, however, Romney tries to market his successful career as a financial speculator as that of a businessman who created or sustained enterprises and thereby employed people and resources in ways that were economically productive rather than merely financially lucrative.
In securing the Republican Presidential nomination, Romney routinely tailored his marketing message to whatever his target audience wanted to hear. For example, he scrapped his original tax plan and out came one that included a 20 percent cut in income tax rates. “Rate cuts” are to supply-siders what the belief in the divinity of Jesus is to Christians. Romney repeatedly asserted he wanted this rate cut to apply to everyone at every income level. Then, in the first debate with President Obama, Romney tried to assure people he did not want to cut taxes for the hyper-rich. He asserted, “I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” These two statements are not mutually exclusive. He could cut taxes for the super-rich and still make them pay the same overall share of government expenses. Romney has often stated 60% as the share of income taxes paid by the rich. If income taxes are reduced by 20% across the board, the share of taxes paid by any segment of the populace would not change although the amount of taxes paid would decrease. For example if the total taxes paid are counted as 100, then 60% would equate to 60. If taxes were reduced to 80, 605 would equate to 48. This is exactly what a 20% reduction from 60 would yield. The share stays the same, but the amount goes down by 20%. Once again, Romney lies smoothly in a way that is not transparent to the casual observer.
When he was seeking the Republican nomination, he dashed to the extreme right on immigration and now that he is seeking the presidency he is backtracking to mollify Latino Americans. It is not merely that his position has changed, but that it has changed in response to the audience he needs. In Republican primaries he needed to lure conservative or even reactionary voters in to supporting him. In the general election he needs to broaden his appeal and do what he can to reduce the president’s advantage with Latinos. His positions are false and they are specially tailored to whomever he is trying to dupe at any particular time.
Abortion is another issue where Mitt Romney has shown his virtuosity in tailored messaging. A quick online search can disclose videos in which Romney conveys his abiding commitment to protecting a woman’s right to choose and his equally passionate commitment to human life and his unbending opposition to abortion. Then, there is his absolute “gem of obfuscation to the Des Moines Register editorial board: There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” All he needs to do is read the Republican platform and check numerous bills introduced by his running mate. Romney has also previously promised to pass the Personhood Amendment that radically reduces even access to some forms of birth control According to Politico: “For the third time in a week, Mitt Romney has taken a prominent U-turn on something that’s supposed to be a matter of fundamental principles.” As with other issues, these various positions on abortion demonstrate that Romney is treating his candidacy as merchandise. He makes whatever pitch seems most likely to get the current clients to close the deal.
When Romney was speaking in Wisconsin shortly after the recall elections, he criticized President Obama for saying America needs more firefighters, police officers, and teachers. Romney asked about the president: “Did he not get the lesson of Wisconsin?” As he asserted we need less not more teachers. Then, in the presidential debate, Romney rejected his rejection of the need for more teachers. Why did he do this? He was marketing his candidacy as one of moderation, not one of an extreme reactionary. Judging from his words and deeds, there is no right and wrong, no true and false in Romney’s mind. There is only which pitch is most likely to succeed with the target audience. Mitt is a major participant in his own merchandising. He behaves as though he is not a person, but a product and his speeches, interviews, and debate declarations are nothing more than sales efforts.
Another especially brazen example of fabrication was Romney’s praise for regulation during the debate. He sought to obscure his repeated pledge to “give job creators more tax dollars and get government out of the way to allow corporations and financial institutions the freedom to conduct business without regulation or oversight.” In the debate he talked about how much regulation was necessary. He put considerable effort into presenting a reasonable facade. Unfortunately, his skill probably allowed him to dupe many casual viewers and less informed voters. The reality is starkly different. For the last three decades, Republicans have pursued a conscious decision to transform America’s constitutional republic into a plutocracy. They have also worked diligently to deliver control of the country’s policies to corporations, financial institutions, and the wealthiest segment of the populace. Over the twenty-one months, Republicans in Congress have proposed cuts to FEMA, the CDC, Weather Service, OSHA, FDA, USDA, and myriad regulatory agencies that exist to protect the American people, and throughout it all they fought for deeper tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. When he was seeking to close a deal with undecided voters, however, Mitt Romney became a champion of the need for sensible regulation. He did not do this because of principled conviction regarding regulation, but because of calculated prevarication thought likely to be appealing.
In the second presidential debate, Mitt’s merchandising strategy ran into trouble, the president clearly explained his accomplishments and firmly called Romney to account for the cascade of fabrications and catalog of dubious proposals he has repeatedly made during this campaign. As the New York Times stated, “the contrast with the weak and failed ideas that Mr. Romney proposed could not have been clearer. The president noted that he had signed legislation that increased pay equity for women; Mr. Romney not only refused to say whether he would have done so, but condescendingly said he had hired many women when he was the governor of Massachusetts and had given them flexible schedules.” [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/opinion/mr-obama-comes-back-in-debate-no-2.html?ref=opinion&_r=0] Mr. Romney could not even trouble to evade the question put to him with an honest answer. He asserted that he appealed to women’s groups and got “whole binders full of women. In fact, he merely accepted this information from MassGAP, a bipartisan coalition of women’s groups that had them prepared for whoever won the governor’s race. Furthermore, in his entire tenure at Bain Capital, Romney made no effort recruit and promote women at Bain. Even now, a mere 4 out of 49 Bain partners are female. Additionally, Mr. Romney frequently displayed his irritability and arrogance as he argued about who had the turn to speak and disdainfully addressed the president or the moderator. He revealed himself to be what his background would lead us to suspect he is: “a CEO who is accustomed to having people be quiet and listen whenever he speaks.”
Romney seemed to believe he could win voters by trying to saddle the president with culpability for increasing gasoline prices. One way he sought to do this was to assert that “oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land.” For the nth time, Romney is both factually incorrect and deliberately deceptive. Oil production on federal lands did decrease in 2011 and this is due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 which triggered a six-month moratorium on exploratory drilling. Overall, however, oil production from federal lands and waters has risen by nearly 11% during President Obama’s term. This contrasts with a roughly 17% decrease in the last five years of the Bush administration. Romney is practicing misleading merchandising again and it will not be the last time between now and November 6, 2012.
In fact virtually everything Mitt said about energy was either false or deceptively phrased. He alleged the Obama administration has cut licenses and permits by half but this is not the case. Furthermore, Romney ignores the fact that the oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits. He claimed to believe renewable energy will play an important role, but he has actually spoken against a renewal of the wind production tax credit. Mitt claimed that jobs are not up in the coal industry, but jobs in the coal industry have grown by 1,500. He asserts he would make “North America energy independent within eight years,” but he will eliminate fuel efficiency standards that are pushing America toward energy independence. Romney claims that “bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada,” is a key step to make America more energy secure but only the most generous of assumptions suggest the pipeline would have a beneficial impact on oil prices. Finally, Romney directly tried to blame the president for high gasoline prices but crude oil is a global commodity and the president can do little to directly control its price. Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office has evaluated Romney’s domestic oil production proposals and said they would have little or no impact on price. In regard to energy as with so many other topics, Romney tells a tale full of sound and fury which signifies almost nothing true or factual.
An especially noxious strain of Mitt’s merchandising is his effort to turn the tragedy in Libya into a line of political attack. Before the sounds of the attack died away, Mr. Romney took to the airwaves and lied twice. He asserted that U S diplomats in Cairo had apologized for American values in response to a riotous demonstration. In truth, the diplomats had asserted American values before the riot. Mr. Romney wanted to seem strong and sought to portray the president as weak. What he achieved and has subsequently reinforced is his opportunism and his deceptiveness. As President Obama asserted on Tuesday night, the claim the he or anyone on his team would play politics with the death of four Americans is offensive. First, Romney is wrong on the facts, which does not inspire confidence in him. Second, Romney repeated his outrageous attack on Obama while the Benghazi incident was unfolding, in which Mitt incorrectly said that Obama had made excuses for the attackers. Third, Romney was slapped down by the moderator for telling a whopper, which is not the image a candidate would like in the public mind. Contrast the behavior of Romney and other Republicans regarding the tragedy in Benghazi with that of the Democrats following 9-11. One candidate and party are now seeking to exploit a national tragedy for short term advantage while at an earlier time the other party stood up and spoke out for national unity. This contrast should give a telling clue to what genuinely lurks behind the industrious merchandising efforts of Romney and the Republicans.
As E. J. Dionne observed, “Under pressure this time, the former Massachusetts governor displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans.” This may seem puzzling unless one recognizes how much this type of behavior fits with Mr. Romney’s true professional background. Romney alluded to this in the second debate, “Well, of course, they add up,” Romney insisted of his budget numbers. “I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget.” Romney is as one supporter described, “A real born chief executive.” Romney is a CEO. He does not like to have his assertions questioned or his opinions challenged. He gets testy and habitually complains when people do not accept what he says solely because he has said it. This is not the temperament best suited to the presidency in a government of separated powers.
In the first two presidential debates, Mr. Romney uttered 58 myths in 79 minutes. As a campaign official stated, “We will not let our campaign be dictated by fact-checking.” It is clear that Romney, Ryan and their campaign have no concern for accuracy or truthfulness. The American electorate needs to come out of the coma and realize that the Republican Presidential candidate has all the integrity of a proverbial used car salesman. The sites below detail Romney’s myth making during the presidential debates.
When one adds in the 24 myths told by Paul Ryan in the Vice-Presidential debate, it becomes clear that the Republican ticket has no firm attachment to truthfulness.
There have been a total of 82 myths in 119 minutes or about 1 myth every 1.5 minutes. What is a sign the Republican candidates are lying? Their lips are moving! We were born into a Republic, not a plutocracy. In 2012, will we keep it this way?
Tags: Barack Obama, citizens, Debates, election, Larry Conley, Merchandising, Mitt Romney, Myths, Republic, sojourner truth, Votes