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The foolish embrace of self-defeating arguments

<p>After the Friday morning massacre in Aurora, the presidential campaign paused.</p>
The foolish embrace of self-defeating arguments
The foolish embrace of self-defeating arguments

After the Friday morning massacre in Aurora, the presidential campaign paused. For three days, we didn't hear Mitt Romney exploit an out-of-context quote from President Obama. Yesterday, the break ended, and the Republican nominee went back to arguing that Obama believes businesses require strong public institutions to thrive, which makes the president radical and "foreign."

One of the remarkable realizations is that Romney is now shaping his entire presidential campaign around a quote Obama didn't say and doesn't believe. Think about that for a second: after nearly four years of the Obama presidency, Romney isn't attacking something Obama has done or intends to do; he's attacking manufactured nonsense and making it the centerpiece of his candidacy. That, for lack of a better word, is pathetic.

The other remarkable realization, though, is that Romney is reinforcing his misguided message with self-defeating examples.

First, Romney hoped to prove that government doesn't help make small businesses possible, so he appeared at a small business that wouldn't exist were it not for government assistance. Then, still hoping to show that businesses thrive without government, Romney hosted a meeting with business owners who depend on government contracts to make a living.

And finally, remember the New Hampshire business owner who appears in Romney's latest attack ad? His name is Jack Gilchrist and he's offended that the president is "demonizing" him for his hard-earned success. (That Obama never did this is apparently irrelevant.)

Yesterday we learned that Gilchrist's business thrived after receiving $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds -- subsidized by tax dollars paid by you and me -- and benefits from government contracts. In fact, the Romney campaign's hand-picked example also conceded yesterday that public spending is good for the economy.

If Romney is going to stick to a lie, can he at least avoid self-defeating examples that make his lie look ridiculous?