It must be difficult to be a sentient journalist not in the bag for the Republican Party and have to write with a straight face a “balanced” story about Willard Mitt Romney’s political ideals, such as they are. Romney’s allegedly deeply held values are so fluid that not only they are likely to turn 180 degrees from one political moment, rally or interview to the next, but his own vice-presidential pick can’t keep up with the flip-flops of the man at the top of the ticket.
There was an embarrassing YouTube video circulating this week of Romney speaking at a campaign stop in Ohio with running mate Paul Ryan, the campaign’s glossy-haired chief fabricator, standing behind him.
Ryan has been busy, along with Romney and Romney campaign spokespeople, repeating the lie that Obama has raised taxes upward of — depending on who’s doing the lying — 19 times.
These untruths have been debunked by independent sources because the Romney campaign counts even the closing of tax loopholes and the ending of tax breaks as tax increases. (They even now say that they are also talking about Obama’s health care plan because the Supreme Court would rather have tortuously called the individual mandate a tax rather than say that government had the power to require insurance under the Commerce Clause.)
So there was Mitt, once again scaring the bejeezus out of his campaign people because they could tell he was going off-message and they know what that means: Mittens might inadvertently blurt out the truth about something, like the fact that he and Ann think poor people are icky and deserve worse health care and food than Ann’s investment-grade horses.
Which Mitt did, of course, when he observed, “I admit this, [President Obama] has one thing he did not do in his first four years — he’s said he’s going to do in the next four years — which is to raise taxes.”
Everyone else behind Mitt kept a straight face except Ryan, who had the same smug look of the oily know-it-all you hated in every class in school who caught someone in an incorrect answer and shot his hand in the air, “Ooh, ooh! I know the answer to this question and Mitt just got it wrong!”
Because if there’s anything Paul Ryan knows, it’s how to lie on-message.
Much of the mainstream media treated the Romney gaffe for what it was: just another example of how Romney’s worst enemy is Romney The Arrogant because the Mittster’s primary life experiences have been as the Mormon wunderkid living in the bubble created by his own legend as the wealthy son of a Detroit CEO, governor and would-be presidential candidate who was sold out by eastern elitist Rockefeller Republicans just when father George was ready to claim his prize at the first Mormon presidential nominee.
This is all detailed in Nicholas Lemann’s excellent — if somewhat too credulous — profile of Romney in the Oct. 1 edition of The New Yorker titled “Transaction Man.”
The article recounts how everywhere Mitt went as he grew up, his looks and familial wealth opened doors for him, and everyone accepted this as fact but Mitt himself. Said one person familiar with him at the time, “He was the big man on campus. He owned an A.M. C. Javelin, the hottest car made by the auto company that his father, George Romney, had run. He had a beautiful wife. His father was famous; he was handsome. Everybody wanted to be what Mitt was.”
Under these circumstances, of course Mitt came to be convinced that the glowing reviews of abilities had nothing to do with being hot and rich, but rather came as a result of his own hard work and superior intellect. In that respect Romney is no different than a long line of bright enough, but ultimately intellectually dull legacies from education, business and politics who have come to overestimate their own abilities.
The biggest difference between Romney and similar predecessors, as detailed by Lemann and others, is that he feels he is on a Mormon mission from God; that his is a sanctified candidacy that draws a straight line from Joseph Smith back to Mitt Romney and straight through to the White House.
Of course, the people who dislike Mitt the most are the people who know him best: the voters of Massachusetts. Mitt likes to say he left the governorship here because his work was done, when we all know that this is just another in a long line of lies. He couldn’t be elected to anything here because we all know now he’s the most dangerous of liars: a narcissistic liar on a religious mission.
And that is how the rest of the country is getting to know Mittens. Let’s hope they just keep letting Mitt be Mitt.