Political Animal


August 30, 2012 10:58 AM The Audacity of Mendacity

By Ed Kilgore

It shouldn’t come as that great surprise that Paul Ryan so systematically hid his own views, values, influences and agenda in his big intro to the casual voter last night. This is the hidden-hand convention of a political party that knows its agenda isn’t popular, but will do anything to put itself in a position to rapidly and ruthlessly implement it.

Now it’s clear by now that when its mendacity is revealed, the Romney campaign has a simple tactic: deny, deny, deny, and count on media clulessness and fear of looking “partisan” to muddy the waters or consign the dirty deed to background noise.

It was interesting to me, then, to read a long, pointed article by Ron Fournier at National Journal accusing Romney ops of lying in order to appeal to racial grievances and then lying about the lying, right through their expensively capped teeth.

Fournier, you see, is nobody’s idea of a “liberal media” figure. If anything, he’s been strongly suspected (particularly by my predecessor Brother Benen) of leaning the other way. Here’s part of what he had to say about the welfare ads:

Before explaining why these tactics work (and why Romney’s team knows, or should know, they are playing the race card), let’s quickly deal with this fact: The ad is wrong. As countless impartial fact-checkers have noted, the Obama administration memo cited by the Romney team actually gives states flexibility to find better ways of getting welfare recipients into jobs.
Why ignore fact-checkers? First, internal GOP polling and focus groups offer convincing evidence that the welfare ad is hurting Obama. Second, the welfare issue, generally speaking, triggers anger in white blue-collar voters that is easily directed toward Democrats. This information comes from senior GOP strategists who have worked both for President Bush and Romney. They spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution….
Furthermore, a senior GOP pollster said he has shared with the Romney camp surveys showing that white working-class voters who backed Obama in 2008 have moved to Romney in recent weeks “almost certainly because of the welfare ad. We’re talking a (percentage) point or two, but that could be significant….”
Romney and his advisors stand by an ad they know is wrong - or, at the very least, they are carelessly ignoring the facts. That ad is exploiting the worst instincts of white voters - as predicted and substantiated by the Republican Party’s own polling.
That leaves one inescapable conclusion: The Romney campaign is either recklessly ignorant of the facts, some of which they possess - or it is lying about why (and how) it is playing the race card.

I know some readers might think Fournier is actively abetting the GOP’s lies because he doesn’t finish the syllogism and point a trembling finger at his old friends in the Romney campaign and shout “Unclean! Unclean!” That ain’t happening. But Ron’s gone about as far as the conventions of the MSM allow in calling them out. The question is whether anyone notices or cares.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • boatboy_srq on August 30, 2012 11:15 AM:

    There WAS a time when a liar of Romney's scale couldn't possibly win public office because nobody could trust him. There was also a time when "follow the money" was good investigative practice.

    "A republic, if you can keep it," indeed.

  • sjw on August 30, 2012 11:16 AM:

    Some questions:
    Where do these "conventions of the MSM come from" -- journalism school?
    Could we have some journalism profs speak to this issue? Because, geez, if this faux neutrality is what you are teaching your students, you're doing them -- and us -- a terrible disservice.
    And finally, when did lying become an accepted part of the Christianist universe?

  • esaud on August 30, 2012 11:18 AM:

    I used to think Noam Chomsky was a tad extreme when he described the right/left split as money, power privilege on the right, truth, justice and fairness on the left, but every day I am seeing more and more proof that this is the case.

    So as to whether anyone cares that Romney and Ryan are the biggest liars to ever hit Washington, the answer on the right wing is a definite "no".

  • esaud on August 30, 2012 11:23 AM:

    PS - Remember how all of those journalists like CC Connolley had such delicious fun painting Al Gore as a hapless liar? Where are they all when they have an actual liar to rip apart?

  • c u n d gulag on August 30, 2012 11:26 AM:

    I think that the Republicans have just refined their technique, and hope that this time the "fact-checkers," like Liberals, OD on the "OO" - "Outrage Overload."

    A lot of us Liberals OD'd on the OO under W.

    I mean, if it wasn't tax cuts to the rich, or the incompetence leading up to, and after 9/11, it was the open mendacity of leading us into wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, then there was the budget-busting Medicare Big Pharma give-away, the Plame CIA outing, the "Free Speech Zones," the "Swift Boating, the negligence in "The Big Easy," the spying on citizens, the elimination of Habeus Corpus, and so on, and so on, and so on, etc...

    So that, after awhile, anthing and everything, instead of being another horrible atrocity or attack on the Constitution, and being aghast and active, we became kind of like, "Oh, ho-hum, what stupid, evil, mendacious sociopathic thing is it today? Oh, "A Surge?" Well, that's nothing compared to before when they..."

    They're hoping the fact-checkers either die of an OD of OO, or kill themselves before mid-October.

    And then they can really unleash the Konservative Kraken of KKK-related bullsh*t!

    And anyone still paying any attention will be like, "Oh, ho-hum, now it's watermelons and fried chicken. Yawn...", while the base giggles, and the uninformed really do start to believe that Obama's here from Communist Kenya to kill SS and Medicare, and Mitt and Paul are the guys in the "white" hats, here to save the nation, the elders, the young-'un's, and freedom and Liberty for all.

    I'd call this theory of mine, "After you're eye-brow deep in bullsh*t, you stop noticing any new turds dropped on you," but it's too damn long.

    Anyone have a shorter or better version?

  • stormskies on August 30, 2012 11:32 AM:

    Within this is the ugly fact is that everyone knows that he is lying: everyone. And yet the Repiglicans who rapidly and desperately need to support him are making conscious choices to 'believe' in the lies, deceptions, and distortions anyway. And that is because, of course, their own pathetic inner universe is defined by those lies, deceptions, and distortions.

    They need to believe in order to remain psychologically stable. To admit that even one of their delusion is wrong is to unravel all of the lies in their inner universe. That would then make their entire, stupid, lives WRONG.

    So then what ? So of course they need to sustain their lies and fictions, and 'believe' in Romney/ Ryan in order to be 'right'. Romney/ Ryan and their evil advisers know this of course and so they manipulate these cretin and imbeciles in order to get their vote.

    And to think that the election, and the fate of our once great country, is possibly dependent of these voters is just staggering to contemplate.

  • Nancy Cadet on August 30, 2012 11:42 AM:

    The MSM acceptance of these "big lies" seems to be aN other turning point into the dystopian future described in the writing of Philip K Dick and George Orwell. I know, we've been there before with theGW Bush administration . This seems even more blatant .

    For relief, I second Ed's recommendation of CharlesPierce's analysis of Paul Ryan, in Esquire online. Pierce is our generation/century 's Mark Twain.

  • Ron Byers on August 30, 2012 11:42 AM:

    How do Republicans look their kids in the eye? Seriously, a parent's job is teaching their kids right from wrong. Lying at this level is pure evil, and they are lying to everybody including their own children. I would be ashamed of myself. I notice that some Republicans, like Brownback and Gingrich, are refusing to lie point blank, but are still enabling. How do they live with themselves?

    That brings up the press. Some are beginning to push back but others are still falling for the false equivalence bullshit.

  • Peter on August 30, 2012 11:43 AM:

    The book about this campaign should be titled Profiles in Chutzpah.

  • T2 on August 30, 2012 11:53 AM:

    I believe Fournier is correct in stating that white working-class voters (male) that went with Obama in 08 are the key to this election. If they swing back to the Republican candidate for any reason, Obama will lose. Obama won in 08 by getting those votes along with a massive black vote count. He'll still get the black vote (what alternative do they have). But if male white middle-class voters defect, their wives probably will also. And that 1-1.5% will sink Obama. So naturally the GOP is playing the race card every chance they can. Its hard to admit it, like Fournier did, but this election is about whether the country will choose a president based on racial attitudes. For the GOP, It's the Race, stupid.

  • stormskies on August 30, 2012 11:57 AM:

    Ron Byers: I think they justify their lies through the evil dynamic of the 'end justifies the means'. And yet the very 'end' that they think they want, see, itself is a fucking lie. "Plesantville" has never existed and yet the 'believe' that it does ....... fucking a ...

  • stormskies on August 30, 2012 12:01 PM:

    The good news, I guess, is that even the latest, yesterday, CBS/NY Times poll, which has consistently put Romney tied/ or ahead of Obama for a couple of months now, has Obama ahead by 6 percentage points ...

  • SecularAnimist on August 30, 2012 12:15 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "... count on media cluelessness and fear of looking 'partisan' ..."

    Oh, please.

    "The media" is neither clueless nor fearful. "The media" is almost entirely owned by a handful of giant corporations, which profit enormously from the tax-cutting and deregulatory policies of the Republican Party, as do their ultra-rich CEOs and other executives.

    "The media" legitimizes the Republican Party's blatant lies because that is its job, that is its role as an integral part of the Republican campaign.

  • bcinaz on August 30, 2012 12:16 PM:

    It would be fun if the DNC had a standup comic (Bill Maher) to present the Republican Party Platform in Primetime to the voters - because you know nobody else will. Not the MSM, not the RNC, and for sure neither of the Rs at the top of the ticket.

  • schtick on August 30, 2012 12:16 PM:

    It's the Liar's Club Convention. Anyone that tells anything close to the truth gets yanked off the stage.

  • LAC on August 30, 2012 12:52 PM:

    Sorry, T2, I don't buy the hyped white male vote. Wives are not chattel, but women. And women are 50% of the vote in this country. And we ain't too happy with the GOP. It might be close, but ignoring women, hispanics and blacks in this country in order to feed the fears of some working class white guy is at the GOP peril. Times, they are a'changing...

  • jjm on August 30, 2012 12:58 PM:

    A ray of hope?

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/08/paul-ryan-convention-speech-media-backlash.php?ref=fpa "Traditional Media Call Out Ryan For Dubious Speech"

    CNN, AP and Boston Globe called him out pretty quickly.

  • rick on August 30, 2012 2:05 PM:

    Calling R&R out as liars is certainly worth while. I would prefer to see a slightly different line of attack. ets call the cowards - afraid of the truth. Lets attack their integrity at every fabrication, twist, and contortion. Characteristics tha make both of them unfit for office

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