Playing the game by Romney’s rules

In Mitt Romney’s very first television ad of the 2012 campaign, he pushes a blatant, shameless lie. In 2008, Barack Obama was quoting John McCain, and now, Romney is wrenching that quote from context to attribute it to Obama himself. It’s a cheap, deceitful move, suggesting Romney wants to get his general-election strategy off to as dishonorable a start as possible.

In an apparent attempt to justify the treachery, Romney’s communications director argued, “The White House doesn’t want to talk about the economy” — a claim that wraps a lie in another lie.

The Romney campaign added today that its lie is “not out of bounds.” This, in turn, gave Judd Legum and Jeff Spross a good idea for a video.

In this clip, we see Romney calling for higher taxes, insisting that there’s nothing unique about the United States, arguing that government knows better than free people, rejecting the very idea of fiscal responsibility.

Are the quotes fair? By the standards of accuracy and decency, no. By the standards used by the Romney campaign, yes.

If Romney’s ad is in bounds, so is this one. It’s as simple as that.

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Steve Benen

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.