Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast made the same point recently that I have been making for a while, which is that most of the lying in politics is simply about stretching the truth, not smashing it to bits. So, when Obama’s campaign tries to connect Mitt Romney to Bain-related layoffs that happened after 2002, it’s not exactly the same as a lie even though Romney left the company after that time, because Romney built Bain Capital and gave it its character.
As Tomasky writes:
There is some little grain of truth there, that “Mitt Romney’s company” oversaw such-and-such layoffs, as there usually is in attack ads, even the most vicious ones. The Willie Horton ads were, after all, true. Racist, but true.
Mitt says things, a lot of things, that are clearly and demonstrably untrue, and that actually takes a little getting used to. Most of us are still able to work up some real annoyance when we know someone is saying something that even they understand is not true. It’s human nature. At least, it used to be.
What I’m trying to say is that this is not politics as usual. This is not normal. This is not simply the old saw about all politicians lying. This is a different animal and it should piss us off, all of us, no matter what our political leanings. Is it really a good thing if someone vying for the top political job in the land isn’t even going to pretend to care about the truth? Does anyone really want a person like that in that job? Don’t answer that.
But this is where we are.
The most recent example is Romney’s claim about Obama’s changes to welfare rules, which have been presented in new ads.
As Tomasky writes:
The Romney ad campaign says exactly the opposite of what the new rule stipulates. PolitiFact called the first Romney ad “Pants on Fire,” and Glenn Kessler gave it four Pinocchios. But now here they come with a second ad saying that Obama “ended the work requirement.” Plainly and provably not true.
Since 1996, welfare recipients were required to work. This bipartisan reform successfully reduced welfare rolls. On July 12th, President Obama quietly ended the work requirement, gutting welfare reform.
These ads make use of images of Bill Clinton signing into law work requirements for people on welfare, and even he says the claims of the Romney campaign that Obama has undone those requirements are untrue.
There is no nuance. This is no stretching the truth. This is a lie. Again.
Here’s one of the ads. No, Mitt Romney is not normal, and I do shudder to think what someone who lies so easily would do with the kind of power a president has.