After a long while, I realize there’s very little point in pushing back against a lie. Once it’s been told over and over again, and people either believe it or they don’t, the value of the fact-check is greatly diminished.

But I like to do it anyway, because it makes me feel better.

Here’s the line from last night’s debate that Mitt Romney simply loves to tell:

“The president went about this all wrong. He went around the world and apologized for America.”

If someone makes a bogus claim, he or she is merely wrong. When someone repeats the bogus claim after learning the truth, they’re lying. When someone builds a national campaign message around the obvious falsehood, they’re shamelessly lying.

Glenn Kessler notes reality (again).

Regarding the supposed apology, we have repeatedly called this out as a Four-Pinocchio falsehood. A careful review of all of Obama’s overseas statements found that they had been taken out of context or had been misquoted.

Romney surely knows this. He’s not an idiot.

But this plainly dishonest claim is at the core of Romney’s entire campaign message — it’s in every speech; it’s in every debate; it’s even in the title of his book. And the underlying point of the lie isn’t just over some routine policy dispute — Romney desperately wants Americans to question the president’s love of country. The “apology” claim is a lie, but it’s also an ugly smear.

The fact that Romney repeats this incessantly says a great deal about his character, or in this case, the lack thereof.

Greg Sargent noted this morning, “Nobody seems to care, but the continuing claim that Obama apologized for America is, you know, not actually true.”

The fact that Romney is rarely called out for the lie only encourages him to repeat it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.