Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Where the Truth Lies

Steve Benen over at the Maddowblog has been doing God's work over the past few months by chronicling, item by item, Mitt Romney's various lies. We're not talking about fudging the facts or engaging in political spin -- we're talking about saying stuff that flat-out isn't true and can be proven so with a couple of mouse clicks. His record, I think, is two-dozen whoppers in the span of a single week.

Well, today he takes a look at how the Romney campaign is getting away with abandoning all pretense of caring about actual facts -- and what it means for our political process from here on out.

Here's the salient quote, in response to the Romney camp's assertion that it keeps going with the thoroughly debunked claim that Obama is removing the work requirement from welfare because it's been really effective for them and, besides, it's "new information":

"The claims are 'new,' of course, because the Romney campaign made them up. Sure, it's 'new information,' in the same way it would be 'new information' if Obama said Mitt Romney sold heroin to children -- when one invents a lie, its 'newness' is self-evident. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse added, '[W]e're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' ... It's important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen -- he's deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power. If you don't find that frightening, you're not paying close enough attention... Romney is, in effect, issuing something of a dare -- he will ignore facts, thumb his nose at reality, and taunt truths with a childish question: What are you going to do about it?"

We're indeed in very dangerous territory when a man running for President of the United States and the people aiding him have zero compunction about lying outright if it means there's a political benefit to be reaped.

The same article quotes Greg Sargent, who makes a similar point to one I've made here many, many times:

"In this sense, the Romney campaign continues to pose a test to the news media and our political system. What happens when one campaign has decided there is literally no set of boundaries that it needs to follow when it comes to the veracity of its assertions? The Romney campaign is betting that the press simply won't be able to keep voters informed about the disputes that are central to the campaign, in the face of the sheer scope and volume of dishonesty it uncorks daily."

You may remember, I asked the same basic question but aimed it at news organizations like Fox News: What do you do when a supposedly respectable member of the news media refuses to play by the rules and simply airs whatever kind of thoroughly propagandistic nonsense it feels like? Fox has been doing that for years -- and maybe it was only natural that eventually the Republicans that the network speaks for in an official capacity got the hint and started doing the same.


OmegaMom said...

They're betting on the scientific evidence that refuting a well-distributed lie is extremely hard. Once the lie gets put out in the public, the default is for it to seem to be truth, no matter how many times someone debunks it. Scary thought.

Anonymous said...

It's worse than that. The articles I've read suggest that not only do people continue to believe the lie, but they actually believe even more strongly in the lie when provided with contrary evidence.

Of course, in retrospect, this should really come as no surprise. Just reflect on all the various religious "truths" that people still believe in, despite mountains of evidence demonstrating their falsehood. A recent example is the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old.

That Romney is letting facts take the back seat to his campaign should also be of no surprise.
Facts and the truth have always been second string in politics, and this includes presidents as well. For your edification, check out http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/01/presidential-lies/305580/.

Anonymous said...

This isn't altogether different than an Al-Jazeera article posted a couple weeks ago: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/08/20128812956325620.html

CNNfan said...

Less than four fibs a day is more than
acceptable during election season.

Drew said...

It's so very easy to let emotions rule your thinking. In outrage, facts, evidence, even civil discussion are not what the individual wants to consume. Their feelings gain a momentum and inertia and they will by God perpetuate that momentum.

What's the driving force of it all? Fear of change. The crusty cancer-ridden claw of the WASP is no longer on the wheel of the country and it scares the living shit out of people. They are reminded of this change every day they watch the news and see President Obama on the screen.

When they finally wrap their heads around the inevitability of it all (or die off) things will settle down and it will be considered normal. It may take a long time but it will happen.

Eventually people will look back and think that the opposition of this change was silly...much like we do in regards to letting women vote or civil rights. They'll look back and wonder why some were willing to hammer the country into the ground for political gain.

We can look back and know we were on the right side of history. My hope is that people who are afraid of change now find that it's not as scary as they thought and even grow to embrace it.

howdidIgethere said...

Drew said "the opposition of this change was silly...much like we do in regards to letting women vote or civil rights."

If many of those now conventioning in Tampa had their way, these advances would be reversed. That's change THEY believe in!

"Taking their country back", indeed! Back to 1850!