Via Think Progress, Mitt Romney, on his Facebook page, is claiming that President Obama is running to the courts to prevent members of the military from voting in Ohio. Saith the Mittster:
President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.
But as Think Progress’s Judd Legum points out, this is a big fat lie. Earlier this year, the Republican Ohio state legislature, in keeping with nation-wide Republican efforts to restrict ballot access, eliminated early voting in the state, except for members of the military. (Gee, I can’t imagine why they might have made an exception for the military, of all groups! Can you?) The Obama administration filed a lawsuit to restore early voting for all voters; its suit does not in any way attempt to restrict military early voting. Even Fox News, of all sources, acknowledges this.
I’m certain that Romney, or whatever staffer wrote the Facebook post for him, knows very well what the truth is here. But I think the point, strategically, is to muddy the waters, so far as ballot access and voter fraud issues are concerned. It is, after all, Republicans who are ideologically and operationally committed to massive voter suppression efforts. Especially when elections are close, as I believe the 2012 presidential election is likely to be, those efforts can make all the difference.
But since Republicans don’t want to look like the bad guys who are disenfranchising vulnerable populations, they know that it is to their advantage to make it look like “both sides do it.” Thus the constant drumbeat of Republican accusations of voter fraud during the last presidential election, which led to the destruction of one of the great community organizations, ACORN. We are likely to see more of same this year, along with accusations like the one Romney made yesterday, about alleged Democratic efforts to suppress the vote among Republican-friendly constituencies, such as the military.
This technique — call it projection, if you want to be sophisticated about it; or “I know you, but what am I?” if you want to boil it down to the schoolyard basics — is a tried and true wingnut classic. In public debates, it confuses and disorients people just enough to remove the advantage the Democrats usually have on these issues. This is particularly true when voters, as is so often the case, don’t know any better.
One concluding note: is it me, or is Romney one of the most shameless liars to be nominated for President by a major party in many years? Dubya was of course a giant liar too, but I think mostly he let Cheney tell his biggest lies for him. McCain was also a big fat liar, but I don’t think he was quite as reckless and sleazy about it as Romney appears to be. It’s hard to remember a major party candidate just making up so much garbage out of wholecloth. This is merely the latest example. I think we’d have to go back to Reagan or even Nixon to find a presidential candidate who was this pathologically dishonest.
The terrifying thing is, each of those two guys won. Twice.