Paul Krugman, who’s been nearly as frustrated by Mitt Romney’s habitual dishonesty as I’ve been, noted this week that political observers should pause to appreciate “this remarkable spectacle.” Krugman added, “I really don’t think there’s been anything like this in American political history: a presidential campaign, with a pretty good chance of winning, that is based entirely on cynical lies about what the sitting president has said.”
I agree. Mitt Romney is, at a minimum, unique.
What’s especially striking, in addition to the volume and frequency of the falsehoods, is how often the dishonesty is obvious. Jonathan Bernstein has labeled this “lazy mendacity” – untruths based on “the indifference to any fact-checking,” and “the insistence on continuing to use a lie long after it’s been definitively debunked.”
To better understand the phenomenon, take a look at the 27th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt’s mendacity.
1. Romney claimed this week that President Obama was saying success “is the result of government,” not “hard-working people,” when Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
That’s as obvious a lie as Romney has told all year. It’s not even close to what the president said.
2. Romney told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, in reference to last week’s massacre, “There were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado.”
Actually, that’s the opposite of the truth.
3. On a related note, Romney said “it was illegal” for the Aurora gunman to have his arsenal.
That’s not true. The gunman in Aurora purchased his guns and ammunition legally.
4. Romney told donors this week that Ronald Reagan was so focused on the economy after taking office in 1981, he told his aides not to schedule any national security meetings in his first 100 days as president.
That’s so ridiculously false it seemed to thoroughly annoy Republican media figures, including Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen.
5. Romney told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, “I think the president made an error coming into office and deciding that the economy would take care of itself.”
I don’t know what planet Romney’s on, but on this one, Obama came into office and immediately worked on a stimulus bill called the Recovery Act. Romney probably should have heard of it – he’s condemned it many times.
6. In the same interview, Romney said Obama is responsible for a “takeover of the health care industry.”
There is no universe in which this makes sense – “Obamacare” relies on private insurers, not a government takeover.
7. Romney also told Kudlow the economic downturn has “gone on for three and a half years.”
In our reality, the Great Recession began in December 2007 (when George W. Bush was president) – not January 2009 (when Barack Obama became president).
8. Romney said a president should have “at least six months or a year” to get economic policies “in place.”
This is fundamentally dishonest, given that Romney refuses to allow Obama to use this standard to defend his own term.
9. He added, “When I say extend the current tax setting, what I’m saying is, don’t raise taxes.”
Under Romney’s proposed tax plan, those struggling most would see their tax burdens go up.
10. Romney went on to say, “I’m not looking for tax breaks for high-income folks.”
11. He also said he has a plan that will “show the world that we’re on track to having a balanced budget within eight to 10 years.”
There’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Romney says his plan “can’t be scored,” but independent budget analysts have found his agenda would make the deficit bigger, not smaller, and add trillions to the national debt.
12. Romney described Obama’s economic vision this way: “This is an ideology which says hey, we’re all the same here, we ought to take from all and give to one another and that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past.”
This isn’t even close to being true (but it is a little nuts).
13. Romney also argued that the president “demonizes” and “denigrates the people who have worked hard.”
Romney has never been able to point to a single instance in which Obama has actually done this.
14. In reference to Bain Capital, Romney said, “[O]ver the history of the firm, which I helped start, they made some 350 investments, 80 percent of which grew.”
Nice try, but no.
15. In his speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, Romney said the president, in his “dealings with other nations,” has given “apologies.”
The whole “apology” lie hasn’t gone away yet?
16. In the same remarks, Romney said Obama has “diminished” Americans ability to “shape world events,” adding, “[T]his president has diminished American leadership.”
This is something of a subjective question, but at a minimum, all available evidence suggests American leadership has more international stature and credibility now than before Obama took office.
17. Romney went on to say, “Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts.”
These aren’t President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Romney’s talking about defense cuts proposed by congressional Republicans as part of the congressional Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis.
18. He added that national security leaks are “contemptible,” adding, “It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field.”
Given Romney’s take on the Valerie Plame leak scandal, this is literally unbelievable.
19. Romney went on to say, “The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict. That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values. Yet the President has moved in the opposite direction. It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic.”
Officials in Eastern Europe say this isn’t true.
20. In the same speech, Romney said, “President Obama had a moment of candor … just the other day. He said that the actions of the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have not had a serious national security impact on us.”
21. Romney added, “[T]his is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs…. When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.”
The Iranian people weren’t looking and didn’t want U.S. officials to intervene. That’s not “faltering”; that’s sound judgment – the protestors didn’t want to “hear the voice of an American president” at all.
22. Romney went on to say, “It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade. But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop. President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it.”
Obama has already cracked down on China in ways Romney doesn’t seem to understand.
23. In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Romney said of his one term as governor, “I began a relationship with the speaker of the House and the Senate president that was personal. We respected each other. We often disagreed. But we found common ground from time to time.”
That’s wildly misleading. In his one term, Romney issued more than 800 vetoes, over 700 of which were overridden, and demonstrated a “relative disinterest in bipartisan collaboration.”
24. In the same interview, he asserted “we have not” increased trade with Latin America.
That’s not true. Since early 2009, the exports of goods and services to Latin America have increased nearly 50 percent. (Obama also signed trade deals with Panama and Colombia.)
25. A Romney campaign ad this week claimed, “Where did all the Obama stimulus money go? Friends, donors, campaign supporters, special interest groups.”
I’m not sure why Romney keeps repeating this one, but it’s not true.
26. And in his first diplomatic incident of the week, Romney said Bob Carr, the Australian foreign minister, told him that America is “in decline,” but that the situation could be turned around if an appropriate budget deal is reached.
Carr said Romney’s version of events is “not correct.”