About two weeks ago, Mitt Romney suggested attack ads rejected by "the various fact-checkers" shouldn't be on the air. Last week, confronted with evidence that the various fact-checkers consider his welfare smear against President Obama to be an obvious lie, Romney changed his mind -- if there's scrutiny that points to his dishonesty, the scrutiny must be biased.
In an interview yesterday with USA Today, Romney's defense of the indefensible took another turn.
Romney defends the welfare ads as accurate, accusing Obama of offering state waivers as a political calculation designed to "shore up his base" for the election.
This is a quote in need of some follow-up. Obviously, there's the shameless, transparent lie itself, in which Romney continues to falsely accuse the president of weakening the work requirement in welfare law -- a racially-charged accusation that has literally no basis in reality.
But this new twist is arguably even more loaded -- Romney is not only standing by his smear, he's now saying Obama weakened the work requirement to "shore up his base."
Even if we put aside the blatant dishonesty, think about the underlying argument here: Romney is saying the president's political base wants welfare checks without work requirements.
Between this and Romney's birther "humor," the racial subtexts of Romney's attacks are getting increasingly more difficult to ignore -- a point Chris Matthews forcefully reminded Reince Priebus of this morning.
And speaking of the welfare smear, the Wall Street Journal had a report over the weekend on Steven Law, president of Karl Rove's American Crossroads, who is embracing the same attack.
Swing voters are "resistant" to the idea that Mr. Obama is radical or ideological, although Mr. Law believes that the administration's relaxation of work requirements in federal welfare rules could change that perception. "You can tell they're landing punches," he says of the Romney campaign's recent effort to raise this issue.
But the punches have to be targeted very carefully. Recent focus groups have convinced Mr. Law that the issue is "definitely resonating now with swing voters, including those who were Obama voters in 2008."
Note, the article makes it seem as if the attack is legitimate. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported, as if it were fact, that Obama "relax[ed] work requirements in federal welfare rules."
This never happened. We're talking about a racially-charged lie that Romney made up out of whole cloth.
But in our post-truth political landscape, it doesn't matter who's lying; it matters whether liars can get people to believe the lie.