It seems that lying is now an acceptable part of politics. Yes, we know that lying and politics sometimes go hand in hand, but yesterday’s politicians at least tried to minimize the lies and appear truthful. But something changed especially in this year’s presidential election where lying is not only the norm, it is also encouraged by a complacent “news” media.
This change as far as we can tell, dates back to Mitt Romney and the very first political ad he ran against Barack Obama. The good people of America was shocked to the core when they saw Romney’s ad willfully misquoting the president. In the ad, President Obama is heard saying, “if we keep talking about the economy we are going to lose.” Romney’s ad intentionally failed to explain that Obama was quoting something John McCain said in the 2008 presidential election, leaving the impression that the words originated from Mr. Obama. When this was pointed out to the Romney campaign, they just shrugged off the lie as nothing and continued running the ad.
It quickly went downhill from there, as just about every ad the Romney campaign put out contained gross exaggerations, numerous misstatements and in many cases, straight-up lies.
In an effort to figure out why lying seems so natural for Mitt Romney, Justin Frank M.D concluded that Romney’s religion, Mormonism, plays a vital role. Dr. Frank wrote, “this pattern of lying and not acknowledging it, even when confronted directly, has persisted and led me to look for other sources of Romney’s behavior and of his clear comfort with continuing it. I think much of this comfort stems from his Mormon faith.”
Dr. Frank wrote of another lie Mitt Romney told on many occasions, even after he was told what the truth really was. That lie came from a book written by Norm Scheiber called The Escape Artists. Romney misquoted a passage in the book and said that “President Obama intentionally tanked the economy” to pursue healthcare reform. Even after the book’s author told Romney that he was lying and misquoted the passage, Romney continued the lie anyway.
Dr. Frank explains;
“Scheiber wrote on May 21, 2012, that Romney had the wrong takeaway from the book. He quoted Romney as having said, “In this book, they point out that they said the American people will forget how long this recovery took. So that means that when they went into this knowing that when they passed Obamacare, it was going to make life harder for the American people.”
That is not what Scheiber wrote, though he did write that the Obama Administration could have done more to help create jobs by pushing for a bigger stimulus package. He never said Obama knew that he was sacrificing the economy to pursue a pet project.
What is not dramatic is that Romney did not recant his position after Scheiber detailed what the book actually said three days later. But what is dramatic is what happened two weeks later, on June 6, when Romney said the same thing again — albeit with slight differences. Romney said the Obama Administration “knowingly slowed down our recovery in order to put in place Obamacare, which they wanted and they considered historic but the American people did not want or consider historic.”
So on June 7, Scheiber again had to repeat the actual words from his book. Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC program, asked why Romney continues to lie in the face of evidence to the contrary. She said that in the case of Solyndra, when Romney lied explicitly about where the money went, he was “nailed for telling that lie” about Solyndra’s steering money to the Obama Administration’s friends and family. The Chicago Tribune headline “Romney Hits the Sauce Again” implied that you can be a teetotaler and still behave with the certainty of a drunk.
I found myself discussing this situation with several colleagues, and we agreed that Romney doesn’t lie. Let me repeat: Mitt Romney doesn’t lie. He is telling the truth as he sees it — and truth it is, the facts notwithstanding. This is not simply a case of Hamlet arguing about point of view, saying, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” This is about a conflict between evidence and faith. There is a long tradition in the Mormon belief system in which evidence takes second place to faith. Examples abound, as when two Mormon elders who were questioned about the inconsistency in passages from the Book of Mormon said, “We know the Book of Mormon is true and that it contains the Word of God even in the face of evidence that appears contradictory,” according to The Mormon Missionaries by former Mormon Janice Hutchison. Thus there are no lies, only faith-based certainty that translates as truth for which no apology is needed, since what was said was not a lie.”