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There is little question that during Wednesday’s debate Romney lied and changed his positions.   (See, for example, “At Last Night’s Debate Romney told 27 Myths in 38 minutes.”)  But the biggest lie of the debate didn’t occur on Wednesday evening.  In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on September 14, 2012, less than three weeks ago, Romney said that he expected the president to lie during the debate:

But I think the challenge that I’ll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren’t true.  And in attacking his opponents.  I’ve looked at prior debates.  And in that kind of case, it’s difficult to say, “Well, am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren’t quite accurate?  Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?”
Psychologists talk about the phenomenon of projection in which a person claims that someone else is doing what he or she is doing.  However, Romney wasn’t only projecting his own expectation of lying during the debate onto Obama.  Romney and his strategists knew that he would need his Etch-a-Sketch moment, the one in which he portrays himself as a moderate after tacking far right for months.  It  couldn’t happen at the convention because of how far right the delegates leaned.  So they saved it for the first debate.  But there was a small problem.  If Romney just shifted his positions, he would appear to be flip flop Romney, once again.  Solution: devise a narrative in which Obama is made to appear as if he is lying when he challenges Romney.

Romney started setting the stage for this narrative weeks ago and carried it into the debate. From the transcript of the debate:

21:16:44: ROMNEY: So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist that can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.

Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that — that is not the case. All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans. (Emphasis added.)

At the moment when Romney is making extremely misleading statements about his tax plan, a crucial issue for him, he pivots and says, “Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true.”  So, Obama, if you challenge me, you are a liar.  This wasn’t a spontaneous remark.  It was at the heart of Romney’s strategy for the debate.  Leaving aside the question of the status of truth in the Romney household, this was certainly a prepared response, perhaps one of the "zingers" that Romney's team promised.

And let’s not forget another memorable Romney zinger, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts.”

The bottom line here is that Romney didn’t just lie during the debate; he had a strategy to cover his lies by claiming that his opponent is a liar.  An old rhetorical gambit.  Well played.  But it only makes Romney even more of a liar and less trustworthy.  If this man is elected president, we will never know if he is telling us the truth.

UP@NIGHT

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Comment Preferences

  •  EASY REPLY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, raster44

    ...they always come 24 hours later right...

    "The feeling is mutual, Mitt"

  •  Yep. Must explain to voters why lies hurt them. (6+ / 0-)

    You're exactly right, about R$'s projection and his pre-emptive strategy of accusing Obama of what R$ himself is about to do. The R$ campaign laid the groundwork for this weeks in advance, it was obvious what was coming.

    Obama's Campaign needs to connect the dots for low-information voters, to explain to them why (as obvious as it is to us) it is harmful to elect a person who lies. It needs to be specific, not vague comments about trust.

    Many voters think "all politicians do it," and some even welcome R$'s lies (rationalizing that 'he lied to win the primary, but now he's Moderate-Mittens again').

    I commented on this twice, several weeks ago, maybe I should have done a diary on it.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    E.g.

    "Romney is beholden to the right-wing of the GOP who put him in power. Don't trust what he says; look at who he surrounds himself with. His foreign-policy team is largely from the Bush Jr Administration. His senior foreign policy advisor is John Bolton, who favors provoking a war with Iran. His top economic advisor is Glenn Hubbard, who was Bush's top economic advisor [and of "Inside Job" infamy]. These are the people who will make Romney's policies if he is elected. Do you want an even bigger war? Do you want a repeat of the economic crash of 2008?"
    Etc.
  •  Karl Rove Strategy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanesnana, Sharon Wraight

    Rove has become famous and, sadly, successful by attacking an opponent's strength to make it seem a weakness. Something similar is happening here: It is difficult to criticize Obama for lying or flip flopping, typically considered assets in political candidates, a strength MR lacks. Romney gets a twofer here, undermining an opponent's strengths and inoculating himself from his greatest weaknesses. It will work if the newsy folks, the bloggers, and the public let him. We shall see.

  •  Well, that's disappointing (0+ / 0-)

    just saying, I thought there'd be a poll . . . .

    (but on second thought, maybe that's not possible, there's just too many choices).

  •  What really bothers me is where he (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv

    might have told the truth. He said he will not raise taxes on the middle class. Didn't we learn, a couple of weeks ago, that he defines middle class as someone who makes 250k/year?
    Watch out if you make under that!

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 04:40:18 AM PDT

  •  Sure we will know if he's lying (0+ / 0-)

    He always is. He has never said a single thing that was true.

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