[I]t's common to twist and distort and cherry pick. But Romney has flatly claimed that Obama said something that, in fact, a John McCain aide said. He's snipped out sentences from an Obama speech and spliced the two halves back together so nobody can tell what he did. Then he did it again to another Obama speech. And he unequivocally said that Obama plans to drop work requirements for welfare even though he's done nothing of the sort.
This really is a post-truth campaign. It's different. It's one thing to be nasty. All campaigns are nasty. It's one thing to twist and distort and mock. Every campaign does that too.... But this is different. This is a presidential candidate just baldly making stuff up on the assumption that nobody will ever know.
The same afternoon, in an apparent attempt to push the 2012 campaign even deeper down the rabbit hole, a Romney spokesperson tweeted, "After months of distortions and lies, how can we trust anything the Obama campaign says?" She wasn't kidding.
Of course, if months of distortions and lies causes irreparable harm to a presidential candidate, Romney might as well pack up and go to one of his mansions now. To consider this problem in more detail, consider the 29th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.
1. In a radio interview yesterday, Romney said of the president, "His campaign and the people working with him have focused almost exclusively on personal attacks."
That's both ironic and untrue.
2. In an attack ad launched this week, Romney said Obama "quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements."
This is as obvious a lie as any presidential candidate has ever told.
3. In the same ad, Romney claims, "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."
Even putting aside the racial subtext, the claim has no foundation in reality whatsoever.
4. In reference to voting rights in Ohio, Romney wrote on Facebook that Obama believes "it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges."
This is ridiculously untrue. Obama wants servicemen and women to have extended early voting privileges, just like every other eligible voter in Ohio
5. In the same written message, Romney argues that Obama intends to "undermine ... the voting rights of our military."
6. In a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Romney said, "Do you know what's happened to the median income in America over the last three-and-a-half years? It's dropped by $4,000 a family."
That only makes sense if we count Obama's first year in office, which relies on a standard Romney believes is fundamentally unfair.
7. In the same speech, Romney said in reference to the deficit, "Instead of cutting it half, he actually doubled it and more."
Maybe Romney doesn't know what "double" means. The deficit on Obama's first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it's projected to be $1.1 trillion. When he says the president "more than doubled" the deficit, as he has many times, Romney's lying.
8. He went on to say in Iowa that Obama is "the first president in history to have a deficit above $1 trillion."
That's a lie. George W. Bush was the first president in history to have a deficit above $1 trillion.
9. Romney added, "He's on track in four years to put together almost as much debt held by the public as all the prior presidents combined."
Romney has said this before. It's still a lie.
10. Romney also said, "We must restore and I will restore work into welfare."
There's nothing to "restore"; the work requirements weren't removed.
11. In reference to the budget deficit and debt, Romney argued, "If entrepreneurs and business people around the world and here at home ... think we're going to get to a point of massive deficits and the potential for economic challenge, why they're going to have a hard time investing in America."
At a minimum, this is misleading. Despite our deficits and debt, there's a negative yield on U.S. Treasuries, with investors around the world willing to pay us to borrow their money.
12. Romney added, "[W]e're going to have to get ourselves on track to balance our budget and I know how I'll do that."
13. In the very next sentence, Romney said, "I'll begin by looking at every single government program and ask this question: Is this program so critical, it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese, but this isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.
14. Romney went on to say, "[A]t the top of my list of programs we don't need is one that costs $100 billion a year I'm going to get rid of and that's Obamacare."
The Affordable Care Act doesn't add $100 billion a year to the deficit. On the contrary, Obamacare saves the country hundreds of billions of dollars. If Romney "gets rid of" it, the deficit goes up, not down.
15. Romney also argued, "I want to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions are able to get insurance."
No he doesn't. Under Romney's approach, millions of people with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage -- and occasionally his campaign even admits it.
16. The Romney campaign last night sent an email blast arguing that Obama admitted he wants to do government bailouts for "every industry."
17. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Romney argued that "higher productivity means higher wages for the American worker."
The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Productivity rates saw sharp increases during the Bush/Cheney era, but wages remained stagnant.
18. Romney told voters in Nevada this week, "I've been interested in seeing that the president continues to not only in speeches but in ads say things that are patently untrue. I've made it very clear. My tax policy will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans."
That's the opposite of the truth. Romney's plan, according to independent analysis, will reduce taxes for the wealthy, and these breaks will be paid for by tax increases on everyone else.
19. At a press availability in Nevada, Romney said, "The president has now raised taxes on the middle class."
He was off by only one letter: the president has not raised taxes on the middle class.
20. At the same event, he added, "I've laid out a plan that will get Americans working again, will create 12 million new jobs over these next 4 years."
If we do nothing, we're on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.
21. Romney went on to say, "With regards to middle income Americans, I want to lower the taxes paid by middle income Americans."
According to independent analysis, Romney intends to raise taxes paid by middle income Americans.
22. In a different speech in Nevada, Romney claimed, "I know the president now has a plan to raise taxes on small business, taking the tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent."
That's not true. Only about 3% of American small businesses would be affected by the higher rate.
23. Romney went on to say, "The president, the other day, you heard what he said. I simply couldn't believe what he said. It may go down as the most famous quote of his entire presidency. When he said, 'If you have a business, you didn't build that, someone did that for you.' He does not understand that it's entrepreneurs of all kinds that have built this country, free individuals reaching excellence, reaching for achievement."
That's not even close to what the president said.
24. At an event in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Romney said Obama falsely claimed four years ago that "he was going to help create more jobs."
Obama has helped create more jobs -- over 4.4 million of them in the private sector.
25. Romney added, "[Obama] said if we passed his stimulus, that we would never see unemployment go above 8 percent."
As Romney surely knows by now, that's simply not true.
26. Romney blamed Obama for the fact that "gasoline prices have doubled."
To call this comically misleading would be an understatement.
27. Romney went on to say, "The president's solution for all these problems is to do more of the same. He wants another stimulus. The last one didn't work."
The last one rescued the economy from collapse, grew the economy, created jobs, and at least technically ended the recession.
28. Romney boasted, "When I was governor of my state ... we balanced the budget every year [and] we were able to build a rainy day fund of over $2 billion."
Actually, Romney left his successor with a deficit.
29. And Romney said his fiscal plan "is very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan."