As expected, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney cruised to easy wins in five GOP primaries yesterday -- his remaining competitors aren't really trying -- and he capped the night with a big speech in New Hampshire, where he rolled out a new campaign message: "A Better America Begins Tonight."
If you missed it, we featured the entirety of the former governor's speech on last night's show.
The remarks were well received by most pundits -- delivery and clever turns of phrase tend to earn plaudits, because honesty and policy coherence no longer matter -- but watching the speech, I kept asking myself, "Has Mitt Romney met Mitt Romney?"
The presumptive GOP nominee went through a litany of predictable falsehoods, including the ridiculous lie that President Obama "apologized for America," but just as important was the disconnect between Romney's rhetoric and Romney's stated agenda.
Romney reached out, for example, to "the mom and dad who never thought they'd be on food stamps," without acknowledging that he supports slashing funding for food stamps. He spoke repeatedly about "unfairness" in the economy, without mentioning he supports some millionaires and billionaires paying a lower tax rate than most of the middle class. He talked about rising debt without noting that he has no way of paying for the massive tax breaks he's sworn to pass. He said he'd rescue "grandparents" without acknowledging that he intends to turn Medicare into a voucher program, push partial privatization of Social Security, and bring back the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole."
Listening to Romney, an uninformed voter would probably have no idea that his promises bear no resemblance to his stated intentions. The former governor said last night, "It's still about the economy -- and we're not stupid." It's a nice little line, but it rankles because Romney is absolutely counting on ignorance and gullibility to advance his ambitions.
Finally, there was this line in Romney's conclusion:
"There was a time -- not so long ago -- when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans."
Let me tell you what would happen if there was a Republican incumbent president and a Democratic candidate said this: we'd spend the next several months talking about why the Democrat no longer believes Americans should take pride in their country. The candidate's patriotism would be routinely questioned and he'd be asked repeatedly why he thinks it is no longer true the American people should hold their heads high.
And yet there was Mitt Romney, effectively arguing that the only way to have national pride is to give him power.