Romney’s rare flip-flop-flip

It’s awfully difficult for a presidential candidate, when pushing one of the central themes of his campaign, to make an argument, then take the opposite side of the argument, then go back to the original argument, all in the course of a week.

It’s even more difficult to execute the rare flip-flop-flip, and manage to get the underlying issue wrong in each instance.

But when it comes to shifting with the wind, Mitt Romney is, shall we say, unique.

Let’s quickly review. Mitt Romney aggressively pushed the argument that President Obama made the economy “worse.” Romney was lying, and even after the claim was proven false, the Republican frontrunner repeated it anyway.

A few days after repeating the bogus line, Romney reversed course, telling reporters, “I didn’t say that things are worse…. What I said was that economy hasn’t turned around.” This was a lie about a lie, wrapped in a lie — he had said things are worse, and all available evidence shows the economy has turned around from the crisis levels of 2008 and 2009.

Yesterday, Romney reversed course again.

After disputing whether he had previously said President Obama made the recession worse last week former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts said on Monday that President Obama made the recession worse.

Speaking at the annual July Fourth parade here on Monday, Mr. Romney told a crowd of supporters and passersby, “the recession is deeper because of our president,” adding, “it’s seen an anemic recovery because of our president.”

Think about the logic of those two sentences. Romney is arguing, at the exact same time, that the “recession” is worse and that there’s been an economic “recovery.” How can we have a recession and a recovery simultaneously? It’s tempting to wonder if he even knows what these words mean.

There are two key angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Romney, when dealing with the core issue of his presidential campaign, can’t even keep his own story straight. Even for Romney, who’s flip-flopped more often and on more issues than any American politician in a generation, this is ridiculous. Given Romney’s atrocious record on job creation, this incoherence isn’t doing his campaign any favors.

The second angle is that Romney can’t bring himself to tell the truth, either. The economy was shrinking, now it’s growing. The economy was hemorrhaging jobs, now it’s gaining jobs. The stock market was collapsing, now it’s soaring. When compared to where things were when the president took office, the economy has obviously improved, even if it’s far short of where it needs to be.

To clean up the mess, Romney first needs to stop flip-flopping — though I suppose that’s like asking a leopard to change its spots — and then he needs to explain why he considers a healthier economy worse than a deep recession.

Good luck with that, Mitt.