"The truth shall set you free," so the Bible teaches. But Gov. Mitt Romney understands it will cost him the election.
So during last Wednesday's debate he did his best to look presidential while he spewed lies, half-truths and inconsistencies at the American people. Romney lied about his tax plan, he lied about his plan for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, and he lied about his plans for Medicare.
President Obama was clearly off his game, yet he did not yield a single embarrassing YouTube moment nor that say anything that could swing the election against him -- like Gerald Ford's infamous gaffe during his 1976 debate with Jimmy Carter when he claimed Eastern Europe was not under Soviet domination.
Of course that hardly matters. American Presidential debates are less about substance than they are about performance. Romney's "win" Wednesday night was the result of his willingness to brazenly ignore the truth, bully the moderator, and stare down the president. Romney obviously felt he had no choice. He'd backed himself into a corner with his inept presidential campaign and shocking admission that he couldn't care less about half the country -- the 47% of Americans he believes will never support him because they take no responsibility for our own lives; including active military personnel, police officers, firefighters, other middle class workers, and many Republicans.
As everyone knows, Romney's tax plan fabrication was a whopper and his new found empathy for the middle class (aka the 47%) was as phony as the half-smile he pasted on his chiseled face, "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut" Romney said, "I don't have a tax cut of a scale that you're talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people."
Surely there are those who wish Mr. Obama had grabbed Romney by his tie, smacked him across the face, and called him a two faced-liar on national television. But the president didn't do that. He pointed out that contrary to what Romney claimed his tax plan in fact "calls for a $5 trillion tax cut" for the wealthiest Americans and how there was no way to pay for that "without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans".
The president even delivered pretty good "zinger," which, had he turned in a better overall performance, might have received more attention from the media. "Well, for 18 months," the president said, "he's been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is, "never mind."
Mercifully for the president, the post-debate feeding frenzy was diminished by a Friday morning jobs report that showed unemployment falling below 8% for the first time since he took office. Not bad when you consider that he inherited an economy that was hemorrhaging to the tune of 800,000 plus jobs a month.
But aside from the good economic news, it's also become increasingly apparent since the debate that Romney's shameless lying will not wear well. The problem for him is that in the digital age, we have all of his policy positions available to remind us what he said before. For example, during the debate he claimed to support hiring more teachers. Yet, a point and click online scares up a recent clip of Romney excoriating the president for -- you guessed it -- proposing to hire more teachers. Romney also finally apologized for his 47% remark. Yet his mea culpa would have seemed more sincere he had delivered it immediately after the video was released rather than stand by his inexcusable comments as correct but "inelegant."
Mitt Romney had the good fortune to debate Barack Obama on an off night and he took the opportunity to demonstrate some bravado. But Romney also showed himself to be a politician who will say anything, take any position, and tell any lie to become president.
The American people deserve better. Whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent no voter should be left to guess which Mitt Romney will show up at the White House if he is elected president -- Mitt Romney the severely conservative, Mitt Romney the sort-of conservative, Mitt Romney the moderate, or Mitt Romney the Massachusetts liberal. Voters deserve a Mitt Romney who is honest about his beliefs and consistent on the issues.
Unfortunately, that Mitt Romney doesn't seem to exist.
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