Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters. Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won’t (or can’t) catch him, the former one-term governor ignored the other GOP candidates in his speech, and focused exclusively on attacking President Obama.

Unfortunately for those who have even a passing interest in reality or a civil discourse, Romney, allegedly the responsible one in the Republican field, has been reduced to lying uncontrollably.

“Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

“In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.

“The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.”

It stands to reason that Romney, who’s completed the transition from “progressive” views to far-right hysterics, would present a worldview different from the center-left president’s. But this speech was written in a twisted fantasy land, and it ascribes views to Obama that are simply made up. It’s just madness.

Indeed, Jon Chait saw the same Romney rhetoric and concluded, “This is nuts, Glenn Beck-level insane. Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It’s not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama’s America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world — only slightly less so.”

Romney seriously wants Americans to believe that the Obama White House wants everyone, regardless of effort or circumstances, to have the same amount of money. This argument is based on … nothing. The president doesn’t believe anything close to this, and has never given his attackers reason to make such an argument. There is simply nothing in reality to suggest the president accepts as true the radical beliefs Romney ascribes to him. For that matter, no Democratic official anywhere in the country would accept such an extremist agenda that would promise identical wealth to all people.

If Romney believes his own garbage, he’s deranged. If he doesn’t believe it, but he’s making the argument anyway, Romney’s a craven con man.

My hunch is that he’s the latter.

One of the problems with lying is how easy it is. When a person wants something badly enough, and knows making stuff up can help acquire it, there’s a temptation to simply ignore the truth, tell the lie, and get the goal. It takes a modicum of strength to see the inherent value of the truth.

And Romney is just a weak man who lacks the courage necessary to have a credible debate over economic policies. Such an argument requires honesty, an understanding of the basics, and a willingness to be consistent and principled — and given Romney’s glaring character flaws, he seems to lack the integrity to engage in such a discussion.

In the presidential speech Romney referenced yesterday, Obama presented an important vision on the economy, one with a pedigree that rests in giants from both parties over the last century. Americans would benefit from a spirited, substantive response from leading Republican voices, and it’s a genuine shame Romney’s cowardice keeps him from being up to the task.

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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.