In the very first television ad launched by the Romney campaign, the Republican took an Obama quote from 2008 wildly out of context, deliberately deceiving the public. Asked to defend the deception, Romney and his campaign said they didn't care.
With the precedent set, Team Romney, clearly eyeing the general election phase of the campaign, has released a new anti-Obama ad, and it's about as truthful as its first spot.
In this ad, the Romney campaign tells the viewer, "President Barack Obama named himself one of the country's four best presidents." Later, the commercial says Obama is really only the best at amassing debt.
Let's put this plainly: there's simply nothing honest about this attack ad.
The quote that Romney finds so fascinating came from a "60 Minutes" interview, in which the president talked about the achievements of his first two years.
"The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln -- just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do."
Because our political discourse is so deeply foolish, Obama's detractors took this quote, changed it, and complained bitterly that the president claimed to be the "fourth best" president in American history. That's clearly not what Obama said, but for the president's critics, the truth didn't matter, so they changed it to make it say what they wanted it to say. Now, it's made its way from far-right blogs to the Romney campaign's general election message.
But what about the debt claims? Romney's deceiving the public here, too.
There are three basic truths to keep in mind: (1) Obama has lowered, not increased, the deficit; (2) the driving factors of the national debt are Republican policies from the Bush/Cheney era, not new spending from Obama; and (3) Romney's economic agenda includes massive new tax cuts and new Pentagon spending, and he can't explain how he'd pay for any of it. (Indeed, he's endorsed Paul Ryan's budget plan that would add over $5 trillion to the debt over the next decade.)
Those aren't opinions; they're just facts.
Of course, if this is the sort of ad Mitt Romney is running in March, it's unnerving to think of how dishonest his campaign messages will be in, say, October.
Postscript: This new video, its dishonesty notwithstanding, does offer a hint about Romney messaging in 2012. The former governor wanted to talk about job creation and economic growth, but with the recovery picking up steam, he's apparently shifting gears and focusing on the debt now.