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December 17, 2011 11:25 AM The rationale behind ‘bald-faced lies’

By Steve Benen

Mitt Romney appeared on Fox News last night and boasted, “Our campaign hasn’t put up negative ads at this stage.” I know that’s not true. I’ve seen the ads.

Likewise, Romney said on Thursday night, “This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it will be the Chinese century. He is wrong.” I know that’s not true, either. Kevin Drum noted in response, “Seriously, where does he get this stuff? It’s just made up out of thin air. Obama’s never said this or anything even close to it.”

With these routine falsehoods in mind, I noticed Daniel Larison had a piece the other day with a headline that read, “Why Does Romney Lie?” The amusing thing about this, at least in a sardonic sort of way, is that I wondered to myself what prompted the headline and about a half-dozen examples from the last week or so quickly came to mind. (In this instance, it was an Andrew Sullivan item about Romney telling easily-disproven claims about his years in France as a Mormon missionary.)

Regardless, Larison posits a theory.

Why does Romney ever tell bald-faced lies? After all, this is a man who has made the “non-existent tour” the rhetorical centerpiece of his presidential campaign. For some reason, he even managed to say something untrue about his real first name during the national security debate last month.

It’s tempting to say that he has reinvented himself so thoroughly that he can no longer remember what is true and what isn’t, and he has absorbed and appropriated so many new positions over the years that it all gets jumbled together and re-mixed according to whatever the political need of the moment happens to be. It’s easy to lose track after the fourth or fifth incarnation. More likely, he is so contemptuous of the people he tells these lies to that he never thinks he will be found out.

I suspect Larison and I agree on almost nothing when it comes to public policy or visions of government, but on the issue of Romney’s discomforting hostility for the truth, we’re on the same page. I’ve found myself repeatedly wondering in recent months why Romney lies as often, and as carelessly, as he does, without the slightest regard for how easy it is to prove which of his claims aren’t true.

Indeed, as we talked about the other day, Romney and his team have demonstrated a willingness to lie — blatantly and shamelessly — with discomforting ease. We’ve seen this in offensive campaign ads, routine talking points, policy arguments, and even personal anecdotes and characteristics.

And when pressed, Romney and his aides have freely admitted, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence, and reason just aren’t that important to them. Dishonest “propaganda” should simply be expected and accepted, they’ve said.

I’ve been watching national campaigns for quite a while, and I can’t think of any comparable major-party campaigns acting this way, especially this far from the election.

Given all of this, I thought I’d offer Larison’s question as a discussion topic: Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?

Update: Paul Krugman added that Romney “has surely already established some kind of new record: with all the bad things that have happened in American politics over the centuries, I can’t think of any candidate who has lied so freely, with so little compunction.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • RD Padouk on December 17, 2011 11:38 AM:

    He does so because he knows that so many people are willing to embrace these lies. Some can actually perform the mental gymnastics needed to convince themselves that what he is saying is true. Others are less Orwellian and simply accept these lies as a necessary means to an end. In both cases defaming Obama is the ultimate goal. Nothing else really matters.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on December 17, 2011 11:41 AM:

    Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?

    Because he can't win by telling the truth. Period. No way, Jose. Not about his "business world experience", not about his prior political views, not about his policy goals were he to become president, not about the job Obama has done containing the damage of Bush's economic collapse.

    He lies because he has to.

  • N.Wells on December 17, 2011 11:48 AM:

    He gets it from years of practice at hiding his past as a serial goat molester.*

    (*The statement made for propaganda purposes, without regard for factual causative explanations. Gosh, this makes political debate so much easier......)

  • hells littlest angel on December 17, 2011 11:49 AM:

    He's running for office, for Pete's sake!

  • Hedda Peraz on December 17, 2011 11:49 AM:

    Perhaps it is a candidate specific affliction. Anyone remember Hillary dodging sniper fire at the airport?

  • Richard Fox on December 17, 2011 11:52 AM:

    When he is actually called out on it, time and again, even by the likes of a David Gregory or David Brooks; when he goes to fund raisers or meets with average voters in greasy spoons and is called liar to his face; when the narrative becomes about his lying based on real facts to back up the claim, rather than folks gushing about his bold acumen as a business titann, perhaps the dial will shift..

    This would of course mean a vigilant press and an informed citizenry acting in concert. I think that's when the lying might stop. And the word ' might' is mighty optimistic.
    (Perhaps conjuring the vengeful ghost of his dog Shamus might be enlisted to help, who knows?)

  • Giant Kid on December 17, 2011 11:52 AM:

    Why does a dog lick his *&%#$?

    More importantly, this particular dog knows from experience the media won't shout "Bad Mitt!" or approach him with a rolled up newspaper when he does.

  • dalloway on December 17, 2011 11:55 AM:

    He lies because his campaign is being run according to the Rules of the Rove. Think about it. When did politics morph from "we'd like to slide by the truth," to "the truth doesn't matter -- we make our own reality." That would be the Bush Administration, brought to you by KKKarl Rove.

  • Trish Ramey on December 17, 2011 11:58 AM:

    Given the pervasiveness of lies, misrepresentations, and puffery in the Romney campaign, I call to your attention the Wikipedia discussion of the word "lie". It may help add variety in your future discussions of Romney, since he clearly specializes in all the tonal colors of lies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie

  • c u n d gulag on December 17, 2011 11:58 AM:

    If something someone says is believed, then how can it be a lie?

    And, the right-wing's base of xenophobic, racist and misogynistic morons, rubes, and fools, will believe anything that's said about Obama, Democrats, and Liberals.

    Mitt can lie, say he hasn't lied - lying while he's saying it, and to the base,no lie, no matter how big, can be anything but the truth if it's about the left.

    To say anything else, is a left-wing lie!

  • Mudge on December 17, 2011 12:06 PM:

    Mitt is Republican. When a Republican opens his/her mouth, a lie comes out. Simple.

  • Newton Whale on December 17, 2011 12:10 PM:

    He lies for the same reason that Fox puts a (D) after the name of every Republican caught in a scandal: Some not insignificant number of viewers won't know any better.

    Michael Lofgren, a 30 year Republican staffer, resigned recently and explained how Republicans deliberately rely on and profit from the "low-information voter":

    A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

    http://www.truth-out.org/goodbye-all-reflections-gop-operative-who-left-cult/1314907779

  • Trish Ramey on December 17, 2011 12:11 PM:

    Given the pervasiveness of lies, misrepresentations, and puffery in the Romney campaign, I call to your attention the Wikipedia discussion of the word "lie". It may help add variety in your future discussions of Romney, since he clearly specializes in all the tonal colors of lies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie

  • Another Steve on December 17, 2011 12:12 PM:

    Same reason McCain tried to fashion a presidential campaign out of nothing but lies. Because he doesn't believe there's any downside risk. The MSM only punishes Democrats for "lying," (even when they have to make up the lies or portray literal truth as a half-truth to do it).

    The MSM lives in a post-empirical deconstructionist universe. There is no such thing as objective fact and any DFH bloggers who think MSM reporters have an obligation to tell viewers when a (Republican) candidate is lying is just attacking them for not being partisan and biased. And truthfully, most of them are communications majors who are too bloody ignorant to know the difference anyway.

    And besides, fact checking is the job of the fact checking columnist. Surely you're not suggesting the work of fact checkers should be allowed to affect the horse race narrative.

  • Davis X. Machina on December 17, 2011 12:15 PM:

    They're not 'lies'. They are exemplars of Revolutionary truth.

    Correctly-oriented cadres no longer measure truth and falsity by whether a statement comports with reality. That is and incorrect and outdated notion of truth, of bourgeois truth. The question to ask is 'Does this statement promote the Party, and its role as the Vanguard of the Revolution?". If the answer is 'yes', then the statement is true.

    The GOP is the last major Leninist party in the parliamentary West.

    All power to the soviets of preachers and hedge-fund managers!

  • bleh on December 17, 2011 12:26 PM:

    Agree with all the above, which seem to boil down to:
    -- Because he can, and
    -- Because the means serves the end

    "Character" used to be a big thing in electing the president. It may yet turn out to be so in this election, but it seems to me that the Romney campaign is betting that hatred of Obama will trump the character issue: "yes, he's a liar, but he's better than that socialist Kenyan Muslim!"

    It'll be an interesting year...

  • Bill on December 17, 2011 12:27 PM:

    I'm not sure that "Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?" is quite the right question. Or at least, it's not that useful, because nobody will agree they're telling "bald-faced lies."

    The more interesting question is How does a person rationalize such "lies" so that they turn into "truth"? I think that tells us more about a person's mind and character. Because if, in fact, Romney knows he's telling bald-faced lies but is doing so because he despises his own constituency, the media, or humanity at large, that tells us one thing. It might just say he's a shrewd judge of human nature.

    But, of course, he doesn't really believe that, despite his campaign's contorted explanation for the now infamous Obama commercial. He believes he's telling the truth. In the debates he has always found a way to defend his position switches as legitimate thoughtful decisions, despite how contorted history might become in the telling. And any rightwinger can defend the outrageous statements about Obama coming from all directions on the stage on Thursday by pointing to some government action that by contorting definitions or throwing in a splash of conspiracy theory or simply assigning nefarious motives to entirely innocent decisions now makes the statements "true."

    So I think it tells us more about the right's worldview that looking at the world through their lens, these bald-faced lies appear to be true, genuinely true. It reminds us that despite all the evidence to the contrary, it remains central to their worldview that they are persecuted by a hegemonic, perhaps demonic, left that somehow has the upper hand in every category of American culture you can mention. When you dwell daily in such a world that seems set against you at every turn, your worldview warps to the point where the "truth" becomes apparent and quite sinister. I grew up in this world and argue with these folks on a daily basis, and I assure you it is virtually impossible to convince them that what they see as truth is a lie of comical proportions. They genuinely believe it's true ...

  • JS on December 17, 2011 12:28 PM:

    Because IOKIYAR

  • Gary on December 17, 2011 12:32 PM:

    I can't read this blog anymore. The lack of a sensible double-space after the end of each sentence is too disconcerting.

  • E L on December 17, 2011 12:33 PM:

    Romney lies because he's a liar.

  • RalfW on December 17, 2011 12:40 PM:

    Newt seems to lie nearly as much.

    The candidates pay no price in the major media for their lies. None.

    So they carry on. Propaganda only works in the environment of a supine press.

    Even the "Politifact" thingys barely matter. The same newspaper can have a truthometer on page two that says three Pinocchios and on page one or the home page, they just repeat, stenographer-style, the latest lies.

    No context, no push-back, no mention that they have a history of prevarication.


  • Rick B on December 17, 2011 12:48 PM:

    There are a number of good explanations above, but I really like that of @Bill 12:27 PM.

    He describes a political group that collectively is paranoid. Whether it selects its members for paranoia or creates there paranoia I don't know, but that group and individual paranoia is obvious.

    And paranoids will say and do almost anything they think they can get away with. It's justified because their (fantasy) enemies are everywhere and are plotting against them.

    The Soviet Communists during and after the Stalin era had a similar paranoia along with a practice of selecting paranoid extremists as their leaders.

  • Harperdog on December 17, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Commenter RD Padouk has it right: Romney lies because the audience he's trying to attract, and which inherently doesn't like or trust him, eats this stuff up. They don't care about facts, really. It feeds into what they want to believe about Obama, so the facts don't really matter. This is his catering to a base with whom he really doesn't have much in common, and really, there's no other way for him to do it.

  • navamske on December 17, 2011 12:56 PM:

    "This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the post-American century. "

    Didn't Newt Gingrich copyright the word "fundamentally" so that only he could use it?

  • Josef K on December 17, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Maybe its a combination of all of this: he's convinced himself (even if only partially) that what he's saying is the truth, that he thinks so little of the electorate he'll say whatever comes to mind, he's become innured in a political culture that actually encourages outright dishonesty, his mental accumen is so seriously limited (yet paradoxically is so praised) he thinks he's on the side of the angels on every subject, and his outlook is borderline nihilist and thus rejects the modern world.

    Or manybe he's just a miserable excuse of a human being, which amounts to the same thing as the above.

    Either way, he's become a waste of both air and chemicals. Such a pity.

  • jjm on December 17, 2011 1:11 PM:

    I think it has to do with the extreme point of the logic of 'business civilization.' In business advertising, lying is the norm, and there are virtually no serious penalties for misrepresentation.

    There used to be some enforcement of 'truth in advertising' but I haven't heard of it lately. Look at the fraudulent gold merchants (finally taken down) that supported Glenn Beck. Look at almost any business and it's 'new, improved' label that usually means that a food product has been downsized, adulterated with fillers like non fat dry milk or its ilk, or loaded up with more chemicals and preservatives.

    The logic of capital has reached an end stage. Every single aspect of our lives, our culture, our loves is inexorably being made subject to this logic that insists that only the bottom line counts: everything else that made us human, our arts, our sciences, our education, our ethics, even our faiths have been 'financialized' and turned into profit generating machines.

  • David on December 17, 2011 1:12 PM:

    Simple: all republicans have learned that they can lie and Any attempt to fact-check lies only muddies the waters. So the public and MSM, so desperate to be in the "center", just assume the truth is somewhere in the middle. The MSM knows better of course, but doing anything other than praising republicans and attacking democrats will mean they are liberal (I'm looking at your shameful behavior, CNN) as a result, Romeney has learned any lie will be treated as a half truth at least, or ignored by the media. It's all reward no risk

  • Anonymous on December 17, 2011 1:25 PM:

    He lies for the same reason McConnell, Boehner, Ryan, Cantor, etc. lies: because they know the Fox-educated wingnut will believe it.

  • square1 on December 17, 2011 1:29 PM:

    I’ve found myself repeatedly wondering in recent months why Romney lies as often, and as carelessly, as he does, without the slightest regard for how easy it is to prove what his claims aren’t true.

    Do you want the real reason? The reason is that that establishment Democratic politicians and establishment Democratic bloggers have tolerated Republican lies literally for years, virtually with impunity.

    If Benen wants an explanation, he should look in the mirror. For years, Republicans have lied their balls off and Benen has characterized their statements not as lies but as the "misunderstandings" of politicians who "are confused" and "don't understand" policy. He has also defended Democrats when they have dealt with Republicans in good faith even when the Republicans were clearly lying their balls off. Simply put, establishment Democrats have normalized the behavior of Republicans.

    In anticipation of some silly response that I am somehow defending Mitt Romney, let me say clearly that OF COURSE Romney is a liar and a flip-flopper. There is no doubt about that that. The point is that Republicans lie 24/7/365. Benen's effort's to make this about Mitt Romney are a joke.

    Romney's quotes about what Obama "believes" may be stupid and untrue. But they aren't any stupider or less true than what Gingrich says or what Bachmann says. Or Perry. Or Cain. Or Lindsey Graham. Or any number of House Republicans. Or pretty much every GOP pundit in the country. In particular, Republicans routinely make up horrific lies about Obama being anti-American or whatever. And yet I have NEVER seen the administration EVER call anyone out for crossing the line. I'm not saying that they never have, maybe I missed something. But they certainly don't enforce any standards of civility.

    In contrast, Mitt Romney's team has been aggressive in pushing back against any hint that his opponents were going after him about his religion. Early on, they wanted to establish that smearing Romney because of his Mormon faith would not be tolerated.

    So why does Romney lie? Isn't obvious? It is a requirement of the GOP. If Romney wasn't prepared to lie his balls off about Obama, he might as well have deceided never to run for President as a Republican.

  • TCinLA on December 17, 2011 1:32 PM:

    The first commenter has it nailed, the rest of us are "et cetera." Go back to Germany, 1926-33, and examine the rise of a particular political party that took power in 1933. Romney is following their playbook.

  • schtick on December 17, 2011 1:39 PM:

    I think he is in Reagan syndrome. He has the beginning stages of Alzheimers. Next he'll forget to complete sentences and.....what was I saying again?

    Mudge, you nailed it.


    crapcha....schodive planning....sho is.

  • R. Queisser on December 17, 2011 1:45 PM:

    Romney lies because he is/was a corporate CEO. No one rises to the top in corporate America unless they lie, dodge responsibility for (their) mistakes, and learn to shift blame to their corporate colleagues--other VPs.

    I have seen it happen in real life. I havde seen it happen in MBA classrooms where future corporate "leaders" are trained.

    Romney's just better at it than most.

  • Bill on December 17, 2011 1:48 PM:

    Also probably important to throw into the discussion a point I first heard from Andrew Sullivan that the conservative brand has become more about entertainment than about serious politics. Witness FOX News, Limbaugh, Beck, et. al. That has to warp your sense of truth along the lines mentioned above by ijm about advertising and business culture.

  • Texas Aggie on December 17, 2011 1:53 PM:

    My own experience with the wingnut element supports what Bill (12:27) said. They are mentally wired to believe that some dark force is conspiring against them and that there is nothing too bad that can be said about that dark force. Research has shown that their fear centers in the amygdala are much more highly developed than in liberals and that therefore, it seems that if there isn't something real to be afraid of, they'll invent something. That is the definition of paranoia.

  • Roddy McCorley on December 17, 2011 1:53 PM:

    Here's the thing: Our Republican friends automatically take as a virtue anything that those terrrible horrible no-good very bad liberals view as a vice. Liberals, with their elitist America-hating dependence on things like fact and consistency, generally regard lying as a Bad Thing.

    So every time Mitt tells a lie, he's potentially scoring points with the base.

  • liam foote on December 17, 2011 1:54 PM:

    I agree with Dalloway and others who cite the adage of Rove, et al, that "we make our own reality." But others on the GOP slate who engage in the same nonsense don't seem to stoop to the level of Mr. Romney.

    Actually, a review of Sen. Al Franken's books "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" and "The Truth" provides a fine historic background on the subject.

  • walt on December 17, 2011 2:07 PM:

    All very good points here. I would emphasize two things: one is the post-empirical nature of political communication on the right. Assertion itself is tantamount to "evidence". You see it particularly with global-warming deniers although virtually anything can be transmuted into fools' gold by simply averring something as "fact". The second thing is the lack of any policing mechanism in our discourse. The MSM doesn't even bother now given the pushback from hard-right zealots.

    I'm not sure whether Romney lies by design or simply by the needs of a plausible narrative at any given moment. Regardless, he pays no price because the culture itself is now hopelessly infected. A nation that compulsively lies to itself about little things soon graduates to much bigger lies. The biggest lie is that nothing really matters except winning (the game, the election, some reality-show contest, or the lottery).

    We desperately need to touch bottom. Maybe a Republican victory will finally afford us this necessary correction.

  • Anonymous on December 17, 2011 2:11 PM:

    Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?

    Liars gonna lie.

    SATSQ.

  • Death Panel Truck on December 17, 2011 2:14 PM:

    The above was me.

    (God, I hate this Captcha bullshit.)

  • thebewilderness on December 17, 2011 2:40 PM:

    The casual lies are a behavior marker for sociopaths. He has all the markers for a sociopath. Most notably the lack of empathy.

  • rick on December 17, 2011 2:46 PM:

    Romney telling lies is a given. His record is nearly unblemished by the truth. More importantly, how does the MSM let him get away with it? How is he permitted to run ads that blatantly lie and distortt? I just heard a piece on NPR with a guy from Politifact. Even he would not reference their "pants-on-fire" label as a LIE instead using some politically correct mumbo-jumbo. In the long run, none of this will matter because Mitt, or Rick, or Newt will be smoldering on the ashheap of political failure come next November. None of these lying hypocritical fools will stand a chance; Obama v GOP (2012) will be like Mike Tyson (in his prime) fighting a five year old girl.

  • MNRD on December 17, 2011 2:50 PM:

    Because the weakness of the field has to a large extent concealed the fact that Romney is a bad candidate running a bad campaign. The conservative base did not trust Romney to begin with - therefore, it was imperative for Romney to avoid telling a lot of easily disproven lies. Romney has never understood this. And it's not just the lies - it's also the nature of the attacks he makes on his rivals for the nomination. The attacks Romney has been making on Gingrich are offensive to the conservative base because those attacks demonstrate that Romney just doesn't get it - and Romney is so obtuse that he just doesn't even realize how those attacks are offending the very voters he needs to win over.

  • Redshift on December 17, 2011 3:03 PM:

    You referred to "On Bullshit" in a post not too long ago, and I'd recommend reviewing it. Romney isn't lying, he's BS-ing. The statements from his campaign officials are practically direct quotes from Harry Frankfurt -- what matters is if it works, and they don't care whether or not it's true.

    However, if lying starts to become part of his reputation, then the fact that he's not deliberately going against the truth, just disregarding it, could become moot.

    Anyone up for creating a "what's Romney lying about now?" blog?

  • zeitgeist on December 17, 2011 3:07 PM:

    Mudge on December 17, 2011 12:06 PM:

    Mitt is Republican. When a Republican opens his/her mouth, a lie comes out. Simple.

    This. In the ever-so-slight defense of Mitt, there is no reason to single him out for his lies. They are no more or worse than those of Newt.

    And just today, Perry told a group in Iowa that he would cut Obama's $5 trillion dollar budget - which should be pretty easy since Obama's budget is only $3.7 T. This follows Perry's nonsensical ad about Obama's "war on religion," which is every bit as untrue as Romney's imagined apology tour.

    Lying has become the Republican communication of choice. Say what fits your narrative, true or not. Say what you wish were true, whether it is or not. Say what most smears your opponent, whether it is true or not. Because nothing else matters but winning, and nothing is as fun as getting away with it.

    Until it ceases to be a winning strategy or ceases to be something the Democrats and the media let them get away with, don't hold your breath waiting for these pious religionists to change their ways based on the pull of their own consciences. Lying for them has become as integral as breathing.

  • Snake Oil on December 17, 2011 3:21 PM:

    At least we can take comfort in that he is not very good at it.

  • Michael on December 17, 2011 3:29 PM:

    He's like the brown acid version of Descartes.

    I lie, therefore I am.

  • String Band on December 17, 2011 3:32 PM:

    Why does he lie? Because it works. I would like to blame journalism but it's really about us, the citizens.

  • Kane on December 17, 2011 3:37 PM:

    He tells these bald-faced lies because there is little to no political price to be paid for telling those lies.

    Does anyone seriously believe that Romney or republicans care whether PolitiFact declares that claims are "pants on fire" dishonest? These are the same people who embraced swiftboating, birtherism, and claims that healthcare was a plot to kill grandma.

    Romney tells bald-faced lies because he can.

  • CDW on December 17, 2011 3:40 PM:

    Because, as newt said, he's a loser. He's remaking himself in the image of what he thinks a winner is like.

  • Neil B on December 17, 2011 4:12 PM:

    Romney is the nearly perfect (to his fronters) cardboard, corporate puppet. He is amoral, doesn't care about truth at all, works for the top one percent-percent etc. This is a warning to smarmy centralizing hacks and gullibles out there, saying they could consider Romney as a viable alternative, with "business experience" and what the cheesily supercillious whig-whiz George Will calls "animal spirits." Sure, Obama is flawed and has to raise money from WS to win etc, in the current environment could he be "perfect" even if he wanted to be? But choice is choice ...

    BTW see about the detention act and how it's been hyped by left perfectionists like Greenwald:
    http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/2011/12/indefinitedetentionbs.html .

  • CDW on December 17, 2011 4:12 PM:

    Just read this reasoning over at the PCTC blog (which concerned something entirely different).

    The blogger says (liberally paraphrased) - as we all know,the truth has a liberal bias, ergo Fox news and conservatives in general have to lie otherwise they would be liberals. Right?

  • Ron Byers on December 17, 2011 4:13 PM:

    He lies because he can lie without consequences. He is a completely modern American politician. Notice that most of his lies involve saying things that the anti-Obama base have been told over and over again are absolute bedrock truths. Romney is a man without integrity, but I am not sure integrity is a luxury no Republican candidate can afford. Sadly, I am not so sure integrity isn't in short supply among the Democrats as well.

  • Kathryn on December 17, 2011 4:31 PM:

    Square one makes a good point, Democrats should have long ago pulled the plug on tiptoeing around the word lie. Obviously, the MSM ain't gonna do it. On the rare occasion, a Democrat is on air, especially Steve Israel or Debbie Wasserman Shultz, they should point out the LIES being broadcast daily by the GOP candidates, have a couple in mind before interview, and loudly point out what was said and why it's a lie. Don't wait for David Gregory or any other tool to ask you, that won't happen. Another thing I've noticed, Republicans also hog the air time, ask them a question and they blab forever, Democrat spokespeople need to be as aggressive and never stop talking like they do.

  • Patango on December 17, 2011 4:32 PM:

    To bad a legitimate dem would not just go out and campaign for obama , office , or what have you , and just tell every outragious lie there is out there , just like the gop do , and see what the press and american people have to say ....Seriously....

    Another reality check , obama and the dems are suppose to meet these people half way in the name of bipartisanship , per standards held up by the media constantly , in the holding people accountable dept....

    Then Is it any wonder everything obama does, in this reguard, ends up being really messed up? And the GOP does not look bad as a result , obama and the dems do...

  • MNRD on December 17, 2011 4:43 PM:

    If Romney's lies were "working", wouldn't they help him to get beyond 23% at some point?

    Romney is simply too obtuse to realize that all of his easily disproven lies are destroying his chances of ever getting the conservative base to trust him.

  • Tim P. on December 17, 2011 4:46 PM:

    A significant portion of the populace want to be lied to - or are eager to accept lies if they come from the right source. It's something they take comfort in, being a part of the group (the "tribe") that mouths the lie. Accepting the lies as truth is both the comforting fantasy of the world as a not very good children's bedtime story and a badge of honor to be displayed proudly - both as a protective ward against outsiders and a means of demonstrating loyalty.

  • MNRD on December 17, 2011 4:54 PM:

    When Romney says, “Our campaign hasn’t put up negative ads at this stage”, how exactly do you think that goes over with the supporters of his rivals who are are watching their candidates get pummeled by Romney's negative ads? How do you think it goes over when Romney claims that unlike Newt Gingrich, he is not a career politician? How do you think it goes over when Romney claims that he's a truer conservative than Gingrich, and then the conservative base gets to watch footage showing Romney actually saying that he's NOT a conservative?

  • chi res on December 17, 2011 4:54 PM:

    fox, scorpion, nature

  • bcinaz on December 17, 2011 5:01 PM:

    In Republican politics, there is no price to be paid for telling 'bald faced lies'. In fact, in Republican reality, there are rewards for lying (Bush gets re-elected) and punishment for truth-telling (Paul O'Neill gets fired for his position on funding the war and tax cuts). It's pretty clear that Rep primary voters could care less about fact,and for them the "truth" is whatever will hurt the President.

    Romney's a Republican and a liar. So what?

  • Steve J. on December 17, 2011 5:09 PM:

    Romney could be aping the successful conservative talk radio hosts.

  • jjm on December 17, 2011 6:01 PM:

    One more comment, although there is plenty already.

    It struck me that GOPers are given a totally free pass when they make stuff up, claiming, as Romney does here to be able to read the president's mind: "“This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it will be the Chinese century. He is wrong.”

    What if Democrats started putting words in Romney's mouth, and revealing what THEY know to be what he 'fundamentally believes.' Make an ad with this alongside whatever the Democrats want to fantasize about Romney's fundamental beliefs: "This is a candidate who fundamentally believes that the next century is the century where everyone, not just Mormons, will be given magic underwear. He is wrong."

    Or to make it more possibly plausible (by playing to prejudice): "This is a candidate who fundamentally believes that the next century will be one where we will see the final eradication of paid labor. . . . He is wrong."

    Might be time for some ad makers to start in on this, the sooner the better. The GOP is so quick to parse every word a Democrat says, and pounce any absolutely anything Obama and Michelle say, I think it time for turnabout.

  • Doug on December 17, 2011 6:20 PM:

    "Why DOES Romney tell 'bald-faced' lies?" Steve Benen

    And right on schedule, the usual suspects blame the Democrats.
    First off, it's the responsibility of the press to verify the statements of those it's reporting on. Democrats have neither the time nor the money to go around the country doing a job "professionals" are already being well paid to do. We could, of course, debate whether or not it would make sense politically for the Democrats to engage in a spitting contest with the MSM over the latter's lack of integrity and professionalism, but that's NOT the question here.
    Furthermore, should Democrats start truthfully pointing out that Republicans, Romney included, are liars, it will simply be put down as Democratic bad manners. It may sound laughable, but without the "verification" provided by the MSM, charges of lying will simply add to the "he said/he replied" style of reporting so favored by "journalists". Leveling such an accusation, WITHOUT a third-party to act as referee will be reported as "politics as usual" by the MSM and even further disenchant voters with the political process.
    The most ANY Democrat should do is refer to some statement as "incorrect" and immediately, and briefly, provide the facts. Should a "reporter" attempt to corner said Democrat by asking the Republican's motives, the smart response is "Ask them." Not nearly as much fun, but it keeps the focus on the false statement(s) and those who make them.
    Hopefully...

  • exlibra on December 17, 2011 6:27 PM:

    61 comments and not a single troll coming out in defense of Romney's sterling character (as opposed to that perpetual liar, Obama)? WTF? It must mean that Mittens is really, really, *really* unpopular among those whose votes he's trying to court...

  • Josef K on December 17, 2011 9:14 PM:

    From exlibra at 6:27 PM:

    61 comments and not a single troll coming out in defense of Romney's sterling character (as opposed to that perpetual liar, Obama)? WTF? It must mean that Mittens is really, really, *really* unpopular among those whose votes he's trying to court

    You're in the wrong place. Redstate and The Corner would be better watering holes for Romney voters.

  • Keith DR on December 17, 2011 10:07 PM:

    What's really remarkable is the combination of the lies with Romney's incredibly thin skin when it comes to others' characterizations of him--getting all in the face of journalists, etc., who are presenting him fairly accurately about getting it right.

  • smike on December 17, 2011 10:28 PM:

    I was briefly acquainted with a sociopath/psychopath/ dissocial (antisocial) personality (take your pick of terms) and found it to be a disconcerting experience. I sense some similarity in this situation.

  • rip on December 17, 2011 10:56 PM:

    For a lie to be believed there has to be an audience who wants to believe it. It doesn't have to be a majority of those who hear or see it, just those that can be useful.

    Claiming not to go negative when you are is an old trick - one just claims that their ads are not negative - just truthful, informative and comparative.

    As for ascribing thoughts and motivations to potential opponents in the other party, there are plenty of partisan voters prepared to believe the worst without any real evidence, and often some statement or action that can be misrepresented or misconstrued to support these beliefs.

    It's only a lie if the people on your side think it's a lie.

  • Tyro on December 17, 2011 11:14 PM:

    Why does Romney tell “bald-faced lies”?

    I think people are thinking too hard about this. The answer is simple: in his background as a consultant and investment banker, you tell lies to "make the sale" and beat out the competition. They're all part of the game, and expected, and respected by clients and the competition if you're willing to do it to beat out the other guy. Romney's job has always been to "close the deal" and do or say whatever was required to do so. And that's what he's doing.

  • The Oracle on December 18, 2011 2:01 AM:

    The answer is simple: "bald-faced lying" Mitt Romney is auditioning for a job at Fox News.

    In fact, most of the Republican presidential wannabes at these debates are auditioning for gigs at Fox News, as well every member of their campaign staffs. And how does one catch the attention of Roger Ailes and the head honchos at Fox News? By lying, by spouting blatant falsehoods, by frothing Frank Luntz-approved and Republican Think Tank-okayed right-wing talking points. And the closer their Republican lies on stage come to the lies spouted 24/7 at Fox News, the better their chances of landing a cushy Fox News position of some sort. Republican debates with a cast of clowning and lying Republicans hoping to be our next president? Naw, these are Fox News job interviews in front of a camera.

  • helen on December 18, 2011 2:42 AM:

    This is distasteful to write and speculate on but it may be that the whole Mormon 'lying to Lord' thing has something to do with it. That may explain the frequency and ease with which he lies. Perhaps that's why he feels he has a pass on having to tell the truth?

  • pluege on December 18, 2011 6:31 AM:

    Romney and his aides have freely admitted, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence, and reason just aren’t that important to them. Dishonest “propaganda” should simply be expected and accepted, they’ve said.

    ironic that the only thing romney is honest about is his pervasive lying.

  • pluege on December 18, 2011 6:32 AM:

    Romney and his aides have freely admitted, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence, and reason just aren’t that important to them. Dishonest “propaganda” should simply be expected and accepted, they’ve said.

    ironic that the only thing romney is honest about is his pervasive lying.

  • bob h on December 18, 2011 6:55 AM:

    He tells them because the GOP base is content with them and doesn't know or care about the truth.

  • Gus on December 18, 2011 8:33 AM:

    He lies because he has no integrity so he tells the republican base the lies they need to stoke their hatred thinking that pandering to the base might make them like him. He offers lies in the service of hatred. Sweet republican idolatry.

  • beejeez on December 18, 2011 9:09 AM:

    Actually, Steve, Larison is that rarest of birds, an honest conservative pundit. He's especially sensible on foreign policy.

  • FearItself on December 18, 2011 11:08 AM:

    I agree with most of the above, but would add that it's an important part of his campaign strategy:

    Given his "liberal" Republican past, Romney knows his presidential campaign will have to be especially duplicitous, even for a presidential campaign. He will have to run sharply away from his past positions to win the nomination, then slip back toward some of them to win the general election. In other words, he's going to have to do an inordinate amount of lying over the next year, and his campaign knows it.

    So they want to soften up the ground now by training the media and the public to turn a completely blind eye to lies. How? By lying a lot now, Romney sets a new baseline, and later accusations of lying, as next November approaches, will seem either inconsistent (if the early lies are ignored) or boring and repetitive (if the early lies are critiqued). Either way, by lying a lot now, he makes it easier to lie later, when the stakes are higher.

  • booch221 on December 18, 2011 3:00 PM:

    “Why Does Romney Lie?”

    Why does a dog lick his balls?

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