Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Strange and Unnecessary Lies of Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Nomadic Politicsby Nomad

A Presidential History of Truth
I suppose all of us are, by now, used to politicians bending, twisting, spinning and throttling the truth. 
Before our current president, there was George W. Bush who looked at truth like a butcher examines a side of beef before knife hits the flesh. He seemed to think the truth needed a lot of trimming and only about half was fit for public consumption.

Bill Clinton looked right into the camera lens and told the American people "I did not have sex with that woman" without so much as blinking a watery blue eye. Later he fell back on his personal- or perhaps a sort of hillbilly- definition of sex. ("That's not sex. We were just a-playin and a-foolin'")

The lies of George H. W. Bush are possibly some of the most shocking in American history but because he was so successful at covering most of them up we may never know the truth. His involvement in the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, the naughty things he did with the CIA, and so many other exploits will require quite a monstrous backhoe to uncover them all. 

Before that, Ronald Reagan told lies easily enough- about, for example, what he knew and what he did not know about shipping weapons to Iran- but then he was an actor and lying is part of the craft. The only time he got flustered was at press conferences when a grandfatherly smile and a witty retort just wasn't quite satisfactory.

Generally speaking, Americans are not so naive to expect their leaders to tell the absolute truth all the time. All in all, Jimmy Carter was probably the most honest of our recent presidents before Obama. However, when Carter bravely described the limits of American growth and materialism, the public found that truth was less preferable to the Reagan fantasy of a glorious American rebirth and a world ripe for conquest in the name of democracy. So, a wee too much truth cost Carter his re-election.

So it's rather hard to shock your average American when it comes to politician's fibbing. Sadly, we've grown all too accustomed to being lied to by our leaders. 

Types of Lies
As one writer said, all lies are as corrosive as acid. They can "dissolve trust in a heartbeat." Yet not all lies are equal in the public mind.
Lying to avoid punishment or embarrassment, while it is definitely frowned upon, is at least understandable. People might have condemned Clinton for lying but facing that kind of public humiliation- (mostly of his own making) Clinton did what we expect. As former first lady and freelance sexologist, Barbara Bush remarked:
“Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.”
(Everybody should be an authority on something I suppose. For Babs, it's bad oral sex.) 
So, Clinton lied and most people understood his reasons, whether they approved or not. Again, there was Nixon who, in the Watergate scandal, lied about the cover-up and paid the price for it. But again, his motives were clear.

Much less understandable is another variety of lying. That is, lying for self- promotion or as a boast. That kind of lie is something that people seem much less likely to tolerate. I suppose it is because it is doubly insulting to the audience. Not only is he telling a needless lie designed at promoting his image, the liar is also implying that he believes his victims to be so stupid that they will swallow any tale he spins.

There's one other type of lie. It is the type that originates from a compulsive need. It goes beyond questions of morality and carries us into human psychology.

This is where Mitt Romney comes in.

Mitt's Memories
This year we have already seen some astounding manpulations of truth from the Republicans. The presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, has gone way past this expectation of routine dishonesty and into a much darker realm.

On Meet the Press, Mitt Romney told his interviewer that he was with his father when they marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. 
He had earlier told the same story in a speech at College Station, Texas.

However the story began to unravel when a reporter began asking for the specifics, as journalists are wont to do occasionally.  Turns out, Romney's memory of the event was apparently of the false variety.

Romney had obviously lifted the story from a 1967 source which contained a chapter on his father. As it turned out, the original reference was incorrect and Martin Luther King never marched in the town of Grosse Point as described. Furthermore, the local historian believed that George Romney never appeared at a protest, march, or rally in Grosse Pointe. 
Here's a more complete telling of the event and the non-event. 

And that's not the first time, Romney has made up a fantasy about his childhood. He told Michigan voters about attending at the age of four Detroit's Golden Jubilee, celebrating the American automobile's 50th anniversary. One source reports it this way:
“My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint,” Romney told a rapt Tea Party audience in the village of Milford Thursday night, reliving a moment of American industrial glory.
The Golden Jubilee described so vividly by Romney was indeed an epic moment in automotive lore. The parade included one of the last public appearances by an elderly Henry Ford.
And it took place June 1, 1946 — fully nine months before Romney was born.
Perhaps unfertilized eggs are people after all. This strange story at least gave the journalist an opportunity to flaunt his wit with this delicious remark:
The timelines suggest Romney could well have been conceived that day. But it is inconceivable he was actually there.
A Scary Question
What started out as "flip-flopping" - a polite euphemism- has become outright lying. But now, after witnessing what appears to be a pattern of being unable to tell the truth, is it time to question whether Mitt Romney might not have some kind of pathological condition?

While pathological lying is not formally considered a mental illness by psychologists, it is considered a symptom of other disorders. The Mayo Clinic categorizes pathological lying as belonging to the spectrum of behaviors known as Antisocial Personality Disorder. Here's a description, brought to you by the helpful people at the American Psychiatric Association.
Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal (e.g., feel that ordinary work is beneath them or lack a realistic concern about their current problems or their future) and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and verbally facile (e.g., using technical terms or jargon that might impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic).
Not particularly convincing, in my opinion. Nearly every politician in the last 100 years could fit into that category. 

Here's is a checklist to determine whether a person is your run-of-the-mill type of lying SOB or a mythomaniac.
• Excessive lying that is easy to verify as untrue.
• Lies are told that bring no benefit and may be harmful to the liar.
Well, that's debatable. If Romney lies enough and is not caught, he could very well become president. Harmful to the liar, yes, but only if our mainstream media journalists awake from their childlike slumbers.
• The behavior is repeated again and again with no regard for consequences.
Check. But then that's also called the campaign trail.
• Pathological liars often can't seem to tell truth from lies and may contradict themselves when questioned.
Hmm.. that's seems to be true in Romney's case too. What do you think? The Republican party's general policy of abandoning the truth whenever pressed too much makes it nearly impossible to spot the truly pathology cases. 

One thing is for certain: Mitt Romney's unnecessary lies should be extremely worrisome to the upper echelons of the Republican Party. Why? They ought to be used to hearing lies.. lots and lots of them, you might be saying.
But, as Southern writer Dorothy Allison wrote:
“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
The only question is whether the Mitt Romney mythology project will come apart before or after November.  
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