Thursday, 22 March 2012

Candidate “Etch-a-Sketch”

In the latest of what will no doubt be a very long slew of campaign gaffes, a Romney campaign aide said the Candidate will experience an “etch-a-sketch” type moment between the primaries and general election – in other words, that he will walk back from some of his nuttier right-wing promises and “beliefs”.

I’m of two minds about this “gaffe”. For one thing, it’s true, and is true of pretty much every candidate who’s ever run for Republican or Democratic office. A president cannot be successful by alienating vast swathes of the electorate, and certainly can’t succeed if he (or, one day, she) refuses to compromise with anyone else. Therefore, campaign promises have a pretty short shelf-life when exposed to Washington air. Secondly… Is it really news? Are we really surprised that Candidate Romney will change a position or ten in order to swing whichever way the political winds are blowing? Seriously?

This is not news. Which is why I liked the way Rachel Maddow covered the incident. She takes a far more definitive position about Romney’s flip-floppery, and just comes out and says it: Romney lies. Here’s how…

Now, some of these lies are distortions and quite typical lies that come from the mouths of politicians and, as in the case of Candidate Romney, people who spend their entire lives trying to get into office. As Maddow says, though, Romney has a tendency to lie far more about “even about the stupid stuff” than anyone else with such a high profile in American politics.

I must say, though, that out of them all, the one that really bothers me, is how Romney is fleeing from his healthcare record. WHY?! The Massachusetts program is a success! It proves that an affordable, regulated healthcare can work in American and does improve overall wellbeing. For God’s sake! As a Brit who has benefited a number of times from the “evil, socialist medicine” of the NHS (and not been bankrupted by essential surgery)… Come on, America, get your shit together!

UPDATE, MARCH 23rd

Rachel Maddow followed up on her original segment about Romney’s flexible relationship with truth the day after, with even more damning reporting:

Maddow looks at Romney’s first political ad, which completely distorted an Obama comment, that “in a political world where there are very low expectations for how truthful how political ads are, in a political world where you just assume and therefore excuse a certain level of sliminess and sleight of hand” this first ad was particularly egregious and, as it turns out, would set the tone for Romney’s primary campaign.

“Mr. Romney’s ok with lying as he runs for president, even when he gets caught, and it is amazing. I think it the most notable thing about his candidacy. It is an important thing about his candidacy that we have to grapple with as a country: whether this sort of thing is just the sort of thing we expect, whether it’s ok for somebody running for president, or whether it’s not ok, whether it goes to a question of his character, and what we expect from people running for office this high.”

This report brings up a number of important questions about Romney’s campaign and also the standard it is setting for his supporters – that lying is an acceptable strategy if you want to beat Obama and elect Candidate Weathervane.

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