For reasons I hadn't been able to explain, I haven't felt much like writing about the presidential election. I love politics. The issues at stake are significant. There's great material. But I'd stare at the blank screen... and just didn't care to write.
Then I figured it out.
It's because it doesn't matter what I write.
I don't mean that the audience is so small. In fact, as far as online platforms go, the Huffington Post is gargantuan.
No, I mean, literally, it doesn't matter which words I choose. Or that anyone chooses.
That's because I realized the Republican nominee Mitt Romney has told the public flat out it doesn't matter what he says. That someone can actually say whatever he wants to become President of the United States.
Don't take my word for it. Let senior advisers of Mitt Romney's campaign tell you.
Mitt Romney's communications director, Eric Fehrnstromon, told CNN -- live, unedited: "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."
In other words, it doesn't matter what we said during the Republican primaries. You should ignore all that, folks. Restart all over again.
Actually, not in other words. His exact words. "Restart all over again."
He told you.
So did Mitt Romney's own pollster, Neil Newhouse, who told Buzzfeed.com: "We're not going to let our campaign by dictated by fact checkers."
In other words... oh, forget other words. You know exactly what he was saying, that the Romney campaign will say whatever it wants and doesn't care if it gets facts wrong. Mr. Newhouse was as clear as could be. "We're not going to let our campaign by dictated by fact checkers."
He told you.
Imagine if you said that to your boss.
Imagine if your child said that about her homework.
Personally, I think the office of President of the United States should at least be held to the same standards as a third-grader. But then, that's just me.
So, we have senior advisers of the Romney campaign telling us -- telling you -- directly that what they say literally doesn't matter. Shake the Etch-a-Sketch. Hit reset. Ignore the fact checkers.
We can tell you anything.
We can tell you anything.
And they have. I wrote three months back about all the 180-degree reversals Mitt Romney has made during this campaign, sometimes within minutes. His staff simply puts out a press release that Mr. Romney didn't mean what he said.
Consider that a moment.
Yet bad as that is, it's only gotten worse.
In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney actually insisted that his $5 trillion tax cut is something he's never said. And said. And said. And said and said.
In the third presidential debate, Mitt Romney said he would pull troops out of Afghanistan in 2014, exactly the same as President Obama. Yet this despite Mr. Romney previously castigating the president for announcing a precise date! "He announced that. He announced that," Mitt Romney cried outraged to reporters. "So the Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it. Why in the world do you go to the people that you're fighting with and tell them the date you're pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense. His naiveté is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom. He is wrong."
And yet Mitt Romney gave an exact date he'd pull out troops. He announced that. He announced that. And the Taliban heard it, and the Pakistanis and Afghans heard it.
And you heard it.
And he just doesn't freaking care what he said before. It actually doesn't matter. He actually won't be dictated by fact checkers. Shake the Etch-a-Sketch.
No wonder he was so upset in the second debate when the moderator corrected his falsehood.
Even now, Mitt Romney is telling crowds how the president's bail-out has led to Chrysler moving "all production" of its Jeep division to China. The statement is so wildly untrue that even Chrysler sent a press release to deny it. Not only deny it, but explain that Chrysler has, in fact, done so well since the bail-out that they've added American jobs and are expanding Jeep to China.
"Let's set the record straight," wrote Chrysler Senior VP Gualberto Ranieri, "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China."
If you want "naiveté," try Mr. Raniei thinking he can "set the record straight." What does Mitt Romney care about facts (even if the fact checker is the company)? And Mr. Romney has continued the same lie despite the horse's mouth actually setting the record straight.
So, if facts don't matter, if words don't matter, if you can say whatever you want and be on the precipice of becoming President, why should anything I say matter? And more, why should anything you say matter?
And so, I can tell you, honestly, I'm pro-life, hate Obamacare, think global warming is untrue and believe Medicare should be private. And a lot of people reading this now finally like me. Thanks! You should, because, after all, it's a woman's right to choose, I love affordable health care, and believe in climate change and the protection of Medicare.
Figure it out yourself. What we all say doesn't matter.
Except the thing is, I think we all know it does matter. Even those third-graders know it's wrong when they change their facts. Except they don't call it that. They call it lying.
When you're President of the United States, you can't Etch-a-Sketch. You can't hit reset. You can't ignore fact checkers. Too much is at stake. Political leaders around the world listen to your every word. Financial institutions listen to your every word. The military of which you are Commander-in-Chief seriously listens to your every word. Everything you say matters. Every single word.
Disliking a person's policies is one thing. A personal's moral compass, or total lack thereof, is something else entirely. That's the core of who we are.
And in the end, most people know that.
And so, I finally felt like writing.
Follow Robert J. Elisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RobertElisberg
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