“Facts” and Newt U.

The big discussion in the progressive blogosphere today is the rather remarkable admission by Team Romney that they could not care less about the universal condemnation of its race-baiting welfare ads by fact-checkers and in fact absolutely everyone who is not deep into GOP hackery. Brother Benen, who has painstakingly catalogued Mitt Romney’s many prevarications and outright inventions, thinks Team Mitt may have finally approached honesty in proclaiming its lack of interest in facts:

It’s important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen — he’s deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power.

Yeah, we’re all a bit in awe of the Romney campaign’s brazenness and his Boss Tweedesque “What Are You Going To Do About It?” challenge to critics.

But it’s important to understand that Romney is leading a party with a rather different idea of “facts”–one that depends on the kind of deeper knowledge that you get from your average right-wing talk show caller who is on to the liberals and knows what’s really going on regardless of any verifiable objective reality.

It’s the kind of “facts” proclaimed in Tampa, as a matter of “fact,” by Professor Newt Gingrich whose “Newt U.” is aimed at instructing delegates and other true conservatives in the deeper knowledge that comes when you liberate yourself from the lies of media reporting, science, the historical record, and other imprisoning constructs. Check out this neat inversion by the Good Professor:

“We tell the truth less effectively than Democrats lie,” he said as class came to order. This was the first of four Newt U sessions designed to fix that, by teaching GOP delegates to tell the truth as well as Gingrich himself. “We want a fact-based campaign,” he said.

Yeah, that’s probably why the star of Newt U.’s initial session on Medicare was none other than Betsey McCaughey, originator of the “death panel” smear and long before that, the prevaricating author of an “analysis” of the Clinton Health Plan for whose publication the New Republic has abjectly and repeatedly apologized.

Today’s Newt U. session will be on small business and civil society, and will feature among others those highly successful business people Newt and Callista Gingrich.

Now experts differ as to whether Newt is remotely as smart and well educated as he professes himself to be, or is, as observers dating back to his students at West Georgia College have often thought, something of a flake with a flair for grandiosity, buzzwords, and staying an inch ahead of tomorrow’s CW. But if he is the Truth Wizard for the GOP, no wonder they don’t give a damn about fact-checkers. Like Newt in his many reincarnations, they’ll just make it up as they go.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.