10/16/2012 07:53 am ET Updated Dec 16, 2012

Humpty Dumpty & Friend

Romney/Ryan have piously wrapped themselves in the rhetoric of "bipartisanship." As with much of the bombast coming from their campaign, it is manifest nonsense.

Start with Paul Ryan: In August, BusinessWeek published an article succinctly titled "The Illusion of Paul Ryan's Bipartisanship." Their bottom line:

Democrats who teamed up with Paul Ryan, and then were abandoned by him, take issue with Romney selling him as bipartisan.

Rather than fulfill his oath of office, the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, announced that his principal goal is to deny President Obama a second term. Bipartisanship is implausible in the face of such blatant partisanship.

Mr. Romney has made a very big deal about bipartisanship, such a big deal that it provides his default excuse for repeatedly failing to spell out his budget-balancing fantasies. Yet both he and Ryan have signed up for Grover Norquist's binding pledge against any tax increases. This pledge is part of Norquist's desire to have the government so small that he can "drown it in the bathtub."

Signing the no-tax pledge is not compatible with bipartisanship. No responsible person believes that the United States can successfully address its budget and deficit challenges without increasing taxes. Take tax increases off the table (as almost every Republican in Congress has done) before discussions even begin and a bipartisan solution (or any solution) becomes impossible.

So Romney/Ryan's talk about "bipartisanship" is pure flummery ... unless they are doing what the radical right has been doing for decades: changing words to mean whatever they want them to mean. In this case, "bipartisanship" simply means "agree to do it my way." Lewis Carroll would be so proud.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."

(Through the Looking-Glass, published 1872)

George Orwell (1984 -- published 1949) would also recognize this flagrant abuse of language.

Apparently these guys are unable to hear the words coming out of their own mouths, or perhaps they have very short memories, or hope that we do. Or maybe, just maybe, even they don't believe what they're saying.

So when you hear Mr. Romney citing his "bipartisanship" in tonight's town hall debate, remember Humpty Dumpty and Big Brother.