Political Animal


October 30, 2012 12:22 PM Default Drive Mendacity

By Ed Kilgore

In a display of chutzpah that would be remarkable coming from just about anywhere else, the Romney campaign, caught making a completely erroneous charge about Jeep moving jobs from Ohio to China, has—yes, I know it’s an overused term, but it’s the most accurate available—doubled down with a claim that would shame an actual weasel. The Cleveland Plain Dealer provides a succinct account:

Last week, Romney recklessly told a large audience in Defiance that he’d read that Chrysler’s Italian owners — that would be Fiat, which has controlled the American automaker since 2009 — were planning to move all Jeep production to China. The Republican presidential nominee’s statement predictably drew groans in Northwest Ohio, where the auto industry is critical to prosperity. He pledged to keep American jobs in America, if elected.
But apparently Romney had been reading a blogger who misunderstood reports that Chrysler was looking to again make some Jeeps in China for that expanding market. The news is a sign of Chrysler’s health, not of some sinister intentions by its management. The company is investing $500 million and hiring 1,100 workers at its Toledo Jeep plant. The day Romney misspoke, Chrysler announced plans to add 1,100 employees in Detroit, too. A company spokesman called any suggestion that Chrysler is abandoning its U.S. plants “a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”
Ah, but not for a presidential candidate who needs a wedge in auto-dependent Ohio. Romney is now running an ad that reinforces the erroneous perception he laid out in Defiance, but in language that is technically true: “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.”
In one sentence, Romney presses hot buttons about bankruptcy — though he, too, favored that route, albeit without direct federal investment — foreigners and outsourcing. It’s a masterpiece of misdirection.

And Team Mitt isn’t being the least bit defensive about it, as Greg Sargent reports:

Mitt Romney’s new television ad suggesting that the auto bailout will result in American jeep jobs getting shipped to China has been widely pilloried by news organizations, both nationally and in Ohio. The Romney campaign’s response: It is expanding the ad campaign.
A Dem source familiar with ad buy info tells me that the Romney campaign has now put a version of the spot on the radio in Toledo, Ohio — the site of a Jeep plant. The buy is roughly $100,000, the source says.
The move seems to confirm that the Romney campaign is making the Jeep-to-China falsehood central to its final push to turn things around in the state.

Wow. The news here isn’t that the Romney campaign is flouting its mendacity (that’s been the case for many months): it’s that having been caught in what might have been rationalized as an error (producing maybe a two-day story), its first impulse was to make it the centerpiece of its Ohio effort.

And these are the people we are supposed to believe when they profess that a President Romney is just dying to work with Democrats on bipartisan solutions to the country’s problems!

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.


  • c u n d gulag on October 30, 2012 12:49 PM:

    Why would anyone except morons believe that the former "Outsourcer in Chief" would want to keep jobs in America?

    Never mind.
    The framing of my question, answered it.

    If I was the Obama campaign, I'd be using Bachmann's epic mispronunciation of "chutspah," and just put that word right on top of Mitt's ads.

    If the people in this country can't see that this man is a opportunistic, sociopathic lier, then they deserve him.
    Too bad for so many of us, our last words will be "SEE, @$$HOLES! WE TOLD YOU SO!!!"

  • Quaker in a Basement on October 30, 2012 1:03 PM:

    We've reached the point where outside groups are creating and disseminating more content than news outlets. The campaigns can say anything they like and then drown out the voices that point out the lies.

  • boatboy_srq on October 30, 2012 1:06 PM:

    Multiple Position Mitt: bad for US jobs, bad for US foreign policy, appalling for the US campaign ethics.

  • howden on October 30, 2012 1:19 PM:

    It is the Swiftboating of Obama. Karl Rove's strategy to directly attack the other candidate's strength with outright lies.

  • jjm on October 30, 2012 1:20 PM:

    What I don't get is the aggressiveness of the GOP's lying. Either they have become true followers of the religion of the BIG LIE. Or Mitt Romney is one peculiarly psychopathic guy.

    He seems to be daring us -- daring us -- to vote him in. If we do, he'll know we're the biggest dupes in the universe.

    Can you imagine a president who cannot be trusted on any word he says? Imagine foreign policy with a guy who says something one day, and something else the next. Who always says what he thinks will please the audience, so if he's talking to Israel one day he'll give them 100% approval for whatever they want, and if he's talking to the Palestinian the next day, he will do the same. Can you IMAGINE ROMNEY GIVING A TALK AT THE UN? He could set off WWIII with his particularly carelessness in his speech.

  • Mark_NC on October 30, 2012 1:32 PM:

    @ Jim on October 30, 2012 1:20 PM:

    What he said!!

    World leaders aren't stupid. They will know (already do) that Romney can't be trusted if he says he had a ham sandwich for lunch.

  • James E. Powell on October 30, 2012 1:50 PM:

    It's times like these that I wish the Democrats, not just in Ohio but all over the country, could act like Republicans, just for three days. The president is not campaigning right now. The local news shows need campaign content and they are not going to have anything from the president, so this is an opportunity. Every elected Democrat in the country has to get on the local news and call Romney a shameless liar for this Jeep business. Call him desperate. And point out that he is doing it because he is losing. Two key words: lying, losing.

  • DCSusie on October 30, 2012 1:59 PM:

    "Either they have become true followers of the religion of the BIG LIE. Or Mitt Romney is one peculiarly psychopathic guy."

    Why either/or? Both sound perfectly accurate to me.

    I'm naively hopefully that this will have some backlash that helps Obama, perhaps by spurring turnout among auto-industry dependent workers and communities.

  • Tom Hilton on October 30, 2012 2:00 PM:

    The news here isnít that the Romney campaign is flouting its mendacity....

    Aaaauuuugggghhhhhhh....no, no, no, no, NO. The Romney campaign is flaunting its mendacity; they are flouting common decency and the most basic standards of candidate behavior.

  • Diane Rodriguez on October 30, 2012 2:03 PM:

    In a state that is not so enmeshed in the car industry, the constant lies about Jeep may have some resonance. In Ohio? Not so much. Strikes me as the tactics of a desperate man.I wonder how long before he starts giving out "stipends" to vote for him. Rove will figure a way to make that fit under the 501(c)4 social welfare heading I'm sure.

    The craven prick knows no bounds. No amount of Febreeze will disguise the foul odor he trails.

  • Laura S. on October 30, 2012 2:11 PM:

    Oh, those crafty Republicans and they're "technically true" commercials! How can we compete with them if they keep making "technically true" statements?

  • bdop4 on October 30, 2012 2:18 PM:

    The GOP, and Romney in particular, has gone "all in" on the proposition that a vast majority of Americans are complete idiots.

    I wish I could be confident that such a strategy is a losing one, but my fellow Merkins keep proving me wrong.

  • SecularAnimist on October 30, 2012 2:20 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "... caught making a completely erroneous charge about Jeep moving jobs from Ohio to China ..."

    Erroneous ?

    Erroneous ??


    Ed, it's not "erroneous" -- it's a DELIBERATE, BLATANT FREAKING LIE.

    What's that old saying -- "a liberal is someone who won't take his own side in a fight".

    God save us.

  • Mitch on October 30, 2012 2:21 PM:


    I go for Option One. The GOP believes in The Big Lie. Pinning this behavior on Romney is a mistake. THEY ALL ACT LIKE THIS.

    It is there modus operandi, and power is their raison d'etre. The GOP has been this way for many years. Romney is simply the distilled essence of everything that is wrong with the GOP and conservatism in America. He's the avatar of the almost fascist nature of the Republican Party. I'm being polite with that 'almost'.

    They lie and they distort or outright ignore facts. They are filled with arrogance and are assured of their cultural superiority. They demonize all dissenters from their dogma. They are certain that their way is the only way beyond the point of hubris. They have no respect for the basic rights of individuals, in spite of all of their rhetoric. They worship force in all of it's forms, as though might did make right. They manipulate the religious almost whimsically. They prey on people's fears with adandon. They are hyper-nationalists with no respect for even our fellow democracies and allies. They firmly believe that our nation has the right to rule the world, completely at odds with our Founders' desires to avoid foreign entanglements. They hold the American people hostage (even the Vets they claim to love) and think nothing of derailing our representative republic in their efforts to enforce their ideology. They are bullies, braggarts and blowhards.

    They terrify me. And they seem to be growing worse every passing day.

  • gratuitous on October 30, 2012 3:19 PM:

    So Free Market Mitt has been replaced with Central Planning Mitt? That is to say that private companies can no longer operate as they see fit, to maximize profits, but now must submit their business plans to a governmental central planning committee or commissar? Is that what Mitt means when he says he's going to keep American jobs in America?

    A shiny nickel to the first reporter who can get Mitt to answer that.

  • Anonymous on October 30, 2012 3:47 PM:

    From the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial: "The day Romney misspoke..." I wish the word misspoke hadn't been invented. Misspoke means you said something and it came out wrong. You were thinking of Iraq and said Iran.

    Mitt Romney did not misspeak. He said exactly what he wanted to say exactly as he meant to say it. Two possibilities: either some speechwriter fed him the wrong story and he accepted it as truth (I don't think he actually researches and considers and comes up with much of his own stuff - in the closing the deal business world, that isn't at all necessary). Or he knew (was told) that it was a lie that would work.

    One way or another, obviously by repeating the lie, or not quite lying but stating an actual partial fact backed up by imagery to leave the clear impression of the lie, they just don't care. Something they have demonstrated for their whole not-defined-by-factcheckers campaign.

    This is the guy David Brooks thinks would work out real well as president. Somehow about 399 out of 400 NYT readers strongly disagree.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 30, 2012 4:18 PM:

    There's just nothing more to be said. What is left to be said about this hideous, horrible man? I hate this phrase, but it's all I have: it is what it is.

    To look at Mitt Romney is to stare at evil incarnate.

  • MarkM on October 30, 2012 5:08 PM:

    Scuzzball! Scuzzball!! Baby ya ain't nuthin' but a scuzzball!! (With apologies to Berk Breathed)