My, oh my, you sure know how to arrange things
You set them up so well so carefully
Ain’t it funny how your new lines never change things
You’re still the same stuffed shirt you’ll always be
You can’t hide your lying eyes,
And that smile is a thin disguise
We hoped by now you’d realize
Romney – you can’t hide your lying eyes!
The day after he won the Florida Republican primary by fourteen percent, Willard Romney declared on national TV, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” At least some discussion took place on MSNBC, regarding whether the media should spend time saying Romney does not care about the poor. This obscures the fact that Willard asserted his lack of concern on national TV. This is not a media concoction. It is direct reporting. Furthermore, Willard’s avowed lack of concern comes at a time when half the population is in or on the brink of poverty.
Willard’s duplicity as revealed by this comment is more complex and callous than it may initially seem. He is running on an agenda that shows he plans to slash the social safety net he just cited as a rationale for his indifference to the plight of the poor. If one reads Willard’s policy statements this is quite clear. According to Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, Willard proposes five points. First, “Immediately cut non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent. Second, “Reform and restructure Medicaid as block grants to states.” Third, “Align pay and benefits of government workers with market rates.” Fourth, “Reduce the Federal workforce by 10 percent via attrition. Fifth, “Undertake fundamental restructuring of government programs and services.” Willard elaborates that he will immediately move to cap federal spending at 20 percent of GDP while increasing defense spending. In short, Willard’s idea of repairing the safety net is to cut the health care strands, reduce the federal work force and then cut the non-health care strands of the safety net. This seems more like the fabled “creative destruction” than any repair worthy of the name. If challenged on this, Willard would probably show us his feces devouring grin and give us a few heh, hehs.
Willard must think the American electorate is infinitely gullible. Unfortunately, he may yet be proven right. Republican oriented super PAC groups raised $100 million compared to just under $14 million for Democrat friendly super PAC groups. Thus, the egregious Citizens United decision continues to empower the Republicans in their quest to effect a corporate takeover of the Republic. As the Washington Post reports on 31 January 2012, “Republicans’ response to the creation of super PACs has been far more lucrative to that of their Democratic counterparts, who can’t seem to raise nearly as much money in big chunks.”
Willard routinely makes statements with little or no connection to facts or truth. Paul Krugman has stated, “No other candidate has lied so freely with so little compunction.” In the American Conservative, Daniel Larison concluded, Willard “is so contemptuous of the people he tells lies to, that he never thinks he will be found out.”
Romney’s latest lie is his assertion that he will repair the safety net if necessary. In fact, he undercut his own assertion in the same interview with this uncommon candor – “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” We cannot, however, rely on Willard to continue being this candid. In fact, this mannequin even lies about his own name. In a November,2011, presidential debate, Willard asserted, “I’m Mitt Romney — and yes Wolf that’s also my first name.” No it’s not! This is lying of ridiculous dimensions. Nonetheless, Willard does not limit his prevarication to personal and comparatively trivial matters. For example, Willard told a group of unemployed Floridians. “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” He happens to have a net worth of more than a quarter billion dollars. In this bizarre episode, Willard is not only dishonest; he is mocking.
Lying about jobs seems to be a recurrent theme with Willard. He repeatedly claims that during his time at Bain Capital they created over 100,000 jobs net-net. He does this by counting current employment totals of some companies Bain was involved with. Therefore, these jobs were not created during his time with Bain, and the figure is not a net number because he only includes positive numbers. As the Los Angeles Times reported in December, 2011, “Romney and his team also maximized returns by firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping companies quickly for large profits. Sometimes Bain investors gained even more when companies slid into bankruptcy.” This report touches on the fundamental canard in Willard’s job creation claims. He and his company did not give two hoots in Hell about jobs. He and they were all about investment return all the time. Consequently, for the good of the Republic, the American electorate must find a way to see that this would be emperor is stark naked whenever he claims to be a “jobs creator”. This should come as little surprise, Bain’s reason for being is not job creation but wealth creation for its investors. In its true mission, Bain has been highly successful; just look at Willard’s situation.
A related deception to his job creator fable is Willard’s dismissal of criticisms as attempts “to put free enterprise on trial.” This is patent nonsense. The criticisms are aimed at Willard’s shameless effort to spin his wealth creating career into a benign job creating endeavor. They are also aimed at his characterization of vampire capitalism as the American idol – free enterprise. What Willard did and Bain still does is not the mythic free enterprise that makes so many Americans nostalgic for a vanished Golden Age. This is not a system that ever existed, but rather a conceptual construct of the Austrian School of Economics. Romney and Bain gained their abundance through a lobbyist driven, influence infested mixed economics. From Henry Ford onward, American capitalists have extolled free enterprise while assiduously badgering and buying politicians to rig the system in their favor. It is a fair question to ask, do voters consider the experience Romney has in vampire capitalism with its euphemistically termed “creative destruction” a sound qualification for the presidency of a Constitutional Republic. America is a country, after all, not an investment corporation. Do we the people want government run like a vampire capitalist firm?
Romney’s distortion of his and his company’s record render his attack on President Obama’s job creation record absurd as well as bogus. Willard has asserted that President Obama has not created any jobs in an interview with Time. He then told Fox News in early January, 2012, “that Obama has lost 2 million jobs as president.” In attacking President Obama use a net figure that he declines to use when speaking of his own record. By Willard’s logic as applied to his own case, the country has added 3.2 million jobs over the 22 months the President’s policies have actually been in effect. Therefore, based on Willard’s own reasoning the President has created more than 3 million jobs. This not enough as many would acknowledge but it is a fairer and more accurate figure than the one Romney touts in his attacks.
In a masterpiece of snobbish deceptiveness, Willard recurrently accuses President Obama as striving to”replace our merit-based society, opportunity society with an entitlement society.” Jonathan Chait characterized this attack as follows: “This accusation is approximately as accurate as claiming that the Republican Party wants to pass laws forbidding poor people from making more money.” The argument that the President or any Democratic politician advocates for equality of outcomes is blatantly untrue and lacks any basis in fact. This is an important and significant falsification. Prior to this Willard attacked the President as being ineffective. With this latest falsehood, Willard is playing to the Tea Party and insinuating that President Obama is a socialist. In this, he revels there are few lengths to which he will not go and that truth is not an essential ingredient of his rhetoric.
To demonstrate that he is not confined to economic matters and therefore, not a one-trick pony, Willard attacks “President Obama’s massive defense cuts.” There is one serious problem with this criticism. Defense spending has increased from $594 billion in 2008 to $666 billion now with a request to go to $739 billion. Oops! There is absolutely no way an honest person can describe a $143 billion increase as “massive cuts.” The fact that Willard does describe defense spending as “massive cuts” is a strong clue that Willard is not an honest person. Wherever military expenditures are involved, Willard is especially truth challenged. In April, 2011, he asserted, the stimulus program “is one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.” At the time of this untruth, the U. S. military was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporting air strikes in Libya. That hardly seems like peacetime and the absolutely unjustified and unnecessary attack on Iraq is a spending binge that dwarfs any domestic program. Willard of course does not care how much money is squandered on armaments and warfare. For some reason, Willard shares the reactionary blind spot toward military spending. It is possible the allure of war profiteering opportunities dazzles these armchair warriors so they do not reckon these expenditures against the total they crave to slash.
A particularly odious and perfidious lie Willard shares with many reactionaries is the fiction that President Obama “goes around the world apologizing for America.” This charge has no factual basis, but facts are not the point with the reactionaries. Willard and his henchmen are not competing against the actual forty-fourth president. They are running against a caricature who springs from the fevered, fanatical minds of the right wing. These people are so incensed at the presence of an American of African descent in the White House that they persist in describing him in terms that imply he is somehow alien, unpatriotic, disloyal, and subversive. The apology tour is a mainstay of the reactionary dog-whistle band that continually plays in the venues and backwaters of the 21st century American right. It is a total fabrication and its repeated circulation by reactionaries says more about their lack of loyalty to the Republic than it does about any deficiency in the President’s patriotism.
Willard’s brazen dishonesty was clearly revealed in his first in New Hampshire late last year. President Obama is quoted as saying, “If we keep on talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” This is not the routine trimming commonly found in political advertisements. It takes a comment made in 2008 by the Republican Presidential campaign and attributes it to the current, Democratic President. This is so flagrantly cynical and deceptive it should make one wonder if the candidate making this claim is fit for any office — let alone the presidency. Later in Iowa, Willard defended this blatant misrepresentation by saying, “There was not hidden effort on the part of our campaign. It was instead to point out what’ s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.” Leaving aside what this response actually means, Willard somehow got away with it. His senior New Hampshire adviser, Tom Roth, declared, “He [President Obama] did say the words. That’s his voice.” So if the Romney campaign fabricates a video clip or audio CD of false statements using snippets from the President’s remarks those lies are proven by the fact that the President said the words and the media spot uses his voice. Has the Presidency of the United States sunk so low that a technique most often used by extortionists and smear artists is now an acceptable means of campaigning for the office?
Fortunately, at least two members of the media directly called Willard out on this tornado of spin. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell stated, “Mitt Romney’s first television ad is simply and entirely a lie.” He went on to say that people who claim everyone does this kind of thing are also lying. Unfortunately Mr. O’Donnell expected that “most of the media is going to allow these things to fly as if they are the standard issue spin of campaigns.” However, his guest, Eugene Robinson emphasized, “This is anything but standard issue spin. This is not regular spin. This is not even out of context- though that’s technically true — but this is pure mendacity.”
As badly as Willard’s habitual lying serves the Republic, the fourth estate’s inept coverage of it is even more of a disservice. In regard to the misappropriated, and misleadingly applied segment of President Obama’s 2008 remark, much of the reporting focused on the tactical side of the discussion. Some thought it seemed the lesson was Romney would be combative. They missed the point that the larger lesson is that Willard will be dishonest.
Willard touts his managerial and executive skills as evidence he can make the economy boom again. He also routinely charges President Obama or his policies have made the economy worse. Early on in the campaign for the Republican nomination, Willard asserted of President Obama, “He did not cause the recession, but he made it worse.” In a debate, Willard opined in a similar vein: “He did not create the recession, but he made it worse and longer.” In Allentown, PA, however, when asked why he says Obama has made things worse despite a rising Dow, a growing economy, and dropping unemployment, Willard responded, “I did not say things are worse.” Consider what this says about Willard. When confronted with facts that prove the economy is clearly better than when President Obama took office, Willard chooses to revise his criticism. The consequence is pure dishonesty. Now some might wonder if Romney is actually lying of simply shockingly ignorant. What a dilemma this presents! The Republican frontrunner is either foolish or devious. In neither case is he cut from “presidential timber.”
One final fabrication merits discussion here. This is not the last falsehood Willard has or will utter, but it will conclude this review of his deceitfulness. This is his ongoing misrepresentation of President Obama’s support for Israel. For example, in a CNN debate in January the mannequin declared, “He said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip.” In fact, President Obama said in a U N speech in September, 2011, “Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombers on their buses.” Romney opined that President Obama disrespected the Israeli Prime Minister. Mr. Netanyahu, however, responded to the President’s speech as follows: “I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle… I think this is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor.” This matter deserves consideration here because the status of Israel is a flashpoint in the Middle East. Despite Willard’s smear attacks, President Obama’s policies toward Israel align with those of every president since Richard Nixon. Additionally, U. S. – Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, including all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, has never been greater. Therefore, on this issue as on so many others Mitt is mendacious.
Political advertisements, stump speeches, and campaign interviews are all designed to support and advance a candidacy. Thus, the first test of any of these communications is the extent to which they achieve this first purpose. Even the best advertisement, speech, or interview, however, needs to be retracted and recanted if they are built on lies. When the discussion focuses on whether the ad, speech, or interview is politically adroit or not, this fixation is a major contributor to the decrepitude of our contemporary political culture.
While candidates come and go, some speaking the truth some lying at every chance, there is no escaping our responsibility as citizens. We have the right to vote and we must resist all efforts to deprive every citizen of this right. More than that, however, we have a responsibility to think seriously and cast an informed vote for the best candidate running for every office. We must employ logic and sound moral sensibilities. If a flim-flam trickster gets into any office, we and our children will suffer. We, the people, have been bequeathed the American Republic. Through wise exercise and staunch defense of the franchise we will show we can keep it.