Mitting Into the Wind

Yesterday afternoon I expressed astonishment that Mitt Romney had lectured newspaper editors about “sourcing” and “quality control.” But at that point, I didn’t have access to the full text of his pithy remarks, and didn’t realize that a major point of his speech was to lecture the President of the United States about honesty in characterizing his record and disclosing his future plans.

Yeah, when you think of a presidential candidate who’s slippery about his record, his plans, and his consistency over time, the first name to come to mind is Barack Obama.

As the AP story on the speech noted:

Romney made news Wednesday by accusing Obama of abandoning 2008 campaign promises for political expediency once in office. It was an unexpected assault by the candidate who is himself under fire in his own party for the ease with which he has changed positions to appeal to the ultra-conservative Republican base.

It’s an “unexpected assault” because it’s unusual for a politician to draw attention to a point of comparison in which he or she is not likely to come out looking too well. In daily life, it’s sometimes called “spitting into the wind.” Perhaps it should now be called “mitting into the wind” in honor of the putative Republican nominee.

I honestly don’t know what Team Romney’s calculation is in making honesty and consistency a benchmark for the general election, in front of an audience of journalists, no less. Perhaps it’s as simple as the old saying, “the best defense is a good offense,” or maybe it’s as devious as the old Rovian tactic of saying things so outrageous that opponents overreact and then he-said, she-said coverage kicks in and a weakness is thereby neutralized.

In any event, I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that a guy who has Romney’s cavalier attitude towards objective truth doesn’t mind lying about that as well.

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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.