“In the general election, you don’t have to be any one ideological thing in order to win over the country. But you have to not be a liar.
“Here’s how else Mitt Romney is like an Etch a Sketch. It is not just speaking French, it is not just outsourcing jobs to China, it is not just fudging his conservatism, it’s fudging everything, all the time. And this is hard to talk about in the day-to-day news context, because there are such low expectations for politicians to be truthful, and because the word ‘lie’ is underused and overused to the on the where everybody’s a little bit touchy about it.
“But the degree to which Mr. Romney lies all the time about all sorts of stuff and doesn’t care when he gets caught is maybe the single most notable thing about his campaign.”
While the old axiom that there is no such thing as bad news no longer seems so axiomatic, perhaps the best reason to speculate whether or not Romney will run for president is that he generates a lot of press attention. Over at msnbc, Chris Matthews today raised the spectre of the GOP’s low-yield crop of contenders in the wake of Mark Leibovich’s swooning vignette, while David Corn of Mother Jones drives home the takeaway:
Leibovich is right; this seems to be the first time Romney has tried to place responsibility for his comment on the person who asked him the question. That supporter was not rambling. Here’s what he asked: “For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.’ How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?” That was a straightforward query, succinctly put, not rambling at all. It was Romney who took the point to the next level and proclaimed that a specific number of Americans were lazy freeloaders who could not and would not fend for themselves.
To recap: Romney has gone from side-stepping the remark, to owning the thrust of this comment (though noting it was not well articulated), to saying he was wrong, to denying he said what he said (and contending his words were distorted), to claiming he was only mirroring the rambling remarks of a big-money backer. This last explanation is certainly not fair to the 1-percenter who merely expressed his very 1-percentish opinion. Does this mean that Romney was thrown off his game by a simple question—or that he was trying to suck up to a donor?