Mitt Romney

Elieen Muirragui of Prince William County, Va., looks at the newspaper front pages posted outside the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. The majority of newspapers featured photos of President Barack Obama who successfully defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the presidential election. (Susan Walsh/AP)

It wasn’t the first post-factual presidential campaign, after all.

Whatever else the poll results tell us about the changing American electorate – that it is less white, less homophobic and more inclined than the defeated Republican nominee to protect the employment and reproductive rights of women – the outcome also confirmed that voters still know a lie when they hear one.

No matter how often former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney repeated the lie that President Barack Obama robbed Medicare of $716 billion to pay for Obamacare, it did not change the fact that he had done no such thing. The Affordable Care Act does not cut Medicare benefits. That number is a projection of what the program will save by revising payments to insurers. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney’s equally duplicitous running mate and the House Budget Committee chairman, projected the same savings in his own House budget proposal last year.

The failure of Romney’s unapologetically deceitful tactics could signal that voters have had enough of the “truthiness” dodge.

Ryan proved especially adept at deceit, most notably at the Republican National Convention in Tampa where, among other whoppers, he blamed Obama for the shutdown of a General Motors plant in Wisconsin that had actually closed during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Similarly, Romney’s oft-repeated and demonstrably false charge that the Obama Administration “gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements” did not stick. Obama did agree to the request of several governors, some of them Republicans, to grant waivers to the work rules spelled out in the 1996 law but only if they could demonstrate that their state plans would produce more jobs for recipients.

Deceit was not ancillary to the Romney campaign; it was a founding principle. Romney’s first televised ad last year included an old video clip of Obama spliced to appear that he was speaking during the current campaign. “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” Obama is shown and heard declaring. The only problem is that Obama made that statement in 2008 and he was quoting an aide to Senator John McCain talking about the Arizona Republican’s then-collapsing presidential bid.

Instead of pulling the ad, Romney scoffed at critics and praised the ad for hitting its target. “We obviously got under their skin because the last thing they want to be doing is talking about the economy and the president’s failure to get this economy turned around,” he said.

Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, summarized the campaign’s attitude toward the truth during a discussion with reporters at the Republican National Convention. “We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” he said. It was a remark reminiscent of that made to the journalist Ron Susskind by an aide to President Bush in 2002, dismissing reporters as part of a “reality-based community” of people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”

By Election Day, too many voters were onto the scam and offended by the insult to their intelligence.

No one with a passing acquaintance with the history of political campaigning in the United States expects that 2012 will mark the end of all truth-twisting on the stump. But the failure of Romney’s unapologetically deceitful tactics could signal that voters have had enough of the “truthiness” dodge – what comedian Stephen Colbert defines as lies that have the ring of truth.

Longtime Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom, a master of the form, may have doomed the strategy last March by a little too casually describing the transition from the primaries to the general election campaign as an “Etch-A-Sketch moment” when his shape-shifting boss would moderate the “severely conservative” image he had been peddling to right wing Republicans.

By Election Day, too many voters were onto the scam and offended by the insult to their intelligence. Romney sealed his fate with his final act of contempt for the truth – refusing at the end to take down a TV ad attacking Obama’s bailout of the auto industry that falsely accused General Motors of abandoning American workers to build cars in China. Even after the spokesman for GM called the ad “campaign politics at its cynical worst,” the Romney campaign kept it running.

It was one lie too many.

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2012, Mitt Romney

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

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  • Frank Reap

    Truth will always win out. Even my three children 10, 12, 14 watched the debates and ad and comment how “Romney is clearly lying most of the time”

  • Frank Reap

    Ironically President Obama did not stoop to the low level campaigning style of Romney’s campaign because the truth about Romney was negative enough and didn’t need to be painted with lies. Additional praise to President Obama for staying the course and respecting the power of The People and The Truth Working Together.

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  • Matt Lindsay

    Chrysler builds Jeeps, not GM. Otherwise the account of the shameful Jeep ad (run incessantly here in Ohio) is correct.

    • read something

      No IT IS NOT. The Jeep we know and love will CONTINUE to be produced within these United (wishful) States but a new Jeep will be produced in China. You know those little bitty two seaters made of bendable metal?

      • NotWhiteyBulger

        with parts still proudly made in Mexico, Japan, and Germany

        Toyota Camry… the most American built car today… Go Kentucky!!

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  • Ron S

    One of the left-leaning talk show hosts (Ed Schultz perhaps?) said it best- Democrats will stop telling the truth as soon as Republicans stop telling lies.

    Republicans, because of their ideological beliefs- especially this decade- really are unelectable. They must lie, distort, attack & constantly peddle propaganda in order to get elected. After all, corporations and wall street cannot vote- & lobbyists, the uber-wealthy and the few others who truly benefit from Republican’s crazy brand of politics only get one vote each. They have to try & fool the populace.

  • Wooly

    I am shocked by the number of people who actually believed the lies and voted for Romney

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  • digusted

    wow, more liberal crap, who saw that coming!!

    • hegesias


  • ThouShallNotLie

    are you on drugs? Help is available – just ask about GM’s bankruptcy

  • Bob

    When is the article with Obama’s lies coming out?

    • jefe68

      You know all politicians tell a lot of half truths and in some cases out right lies. However, Mitt Romney takes the cake for doing this with such abandon that even his spin became the amplification of the very lies he was caught in. President Obama’s campaign did tell a few half truths and a few out right fibs but in comparison to the Mitt Romney campaign, well Mitt’s paints were on fire in that regard. He lied so much that one could not keep up. You can go back to twiddling your thumbs now.

  • Richard Dinsmore

    sheeple: the Wisconsin plant did close down under Pres. Obama

    • rushthis

      WOW…so they actually locked-up the plant after Obama was sworn in? They producted their last car under Bush and had LONG befor planned the shutdown…under Bush. You JUST CAN’T HELP BUT LIE, can you Conservatives?

    • Thisisnoparty

      Not fully true RD….. This is a bit of double talk on your part, the decision was made long before Obama took office. Technically the shutdown was announced 7 months before inauguration and was already well underway by the January inauguration . By the time Obama took office the economy was in full disaster and his hands were most likely too full to revisit the General Motors corporate decision to close the plant….

    • Al Ozzy

      Very scary there are still people who believe lies

    • jefe68

      Oh for the love of… Are you really this easily duped? Do you really believe the right wing narrative that is based on fiction this much?

  • doug sams

    Wow! These idiots move slow. Blame Bush times are over, can’t blame Romney, he didn’t win. Let’s see if we can focus on Obama now.

    • jefe68

      Man talk about a hyperbolic comment. The inanity of it is well noted.

  • Start Loving

    Bravo. Important article. Thank you.

  • Mitch Labuda

    If, we are told the same thing, repeatedly, we will believe. We will and do believe promises made. When they are not kept, we will believe the next candidate will make promises and the cycle repeats as do the Parrots.

  • Delvay Kreetle

    None of the above alleged whoppers, of course, being as egregious as running commercials accusing your opponent of killing a woman. I, for one, hope that Speaker Boehner gives this administration and the lawmakers on the left EVERYTHING they ask for. I am dying to see how adding trillions more to our debt, and ramping up crony capitalism is going benefit us all, and create jobs. It’s been a terrible four years, but I’m certain these policies will bear fruit by 2016. Time to own it, I say.

    • Thisisnoparty

      This is exactly what we do not need. More stonewalling from the right. Your party has done their very best to block this president since day one! They have said from Obama’s first day that they would do everything possible to make him fail. That is anti everything an elected official stands for. Shameful!
      We all, yes you and me both along with the rest of the population should take great offense at this poor character display. (And maybe over 50%of us have shown our offense and our support this past week) It is anti-American what they have done. Our elected officials and representatives need to act civilly and professionally in this job. They need to present solutions not obstacles, finger-pointing and excuses. If they do not agree then they need to pull together from both sides and find common ground to build compromise and progress in rebuilding this great and incredible country.

      • The Old Professor

        Hear! Hear!

    • jefe68

      Good luck with that mindset. The regressive right is going to be relegated into the dust bin of history.

    • Doubting_Thomas

      Crony Capitalism by the left: Billions

      Crony Capitalism by the right: Tens of Trillions

      There are nearly FOUR orders of magnitude between these numbers. Which would you prefer?

    • The Old Professor

      With respect, Delvay, I have not seen a more tortuous twist of venom and logic. “. . .adding trillions more to our debt. . . , “and ramping up crony capitalism. . . ,” have nothing to do with the policies the Obama administration has pursued over the past four years or says it will pursue over the next four. You exemplify our problem. Parroting talking points fed you by either side contributes nothing and destroys much. Inform yourself and speak to specific policies you oppose in detail. Logically form your opinion and support it with facts, not political chants. Come with alternate solutions, not distortions and obstruction. You can be a valuable citizen as can all who live here, but not unless you are willing to work hard to obtain good information and form your own opinions before seeking out confirmatory thinking from others. Dare to think!

  • Bob

    20000 people in 9 states lost their jobs when Obama helped the auto industry

    • massappeal

      Thanks for this assertion. Do you also have figures on how many jobs were saved when Obama helped the auto industry?

    • Mitch

      …and nearly a million kept their jobs. And to Medicare cut comment by David V, negotiated cuts with offsetting benefits is EXACTLY what was done in Massachusetts, and exactly the approach suggested by Romney. When Romney did it, it’s prudent collaboration with stakeholders, when the Dems did it, it’s robbing Medicare to fund “something we don’t want and didn’t need.”. That last statement is the most outrageous considering Romney passionately and sincerely argued the exact opposite to get the Mass healthcare law passed.

      To characterize (as John McCain did) our foreign policy as “failed” or Benghazi as bigger than Watergate–these all give the sense that the GOP is disconnected from reality or more interested in half-truth than really fixing our problems. The GOP needs to decide–keep “their” facts or engage with objective facts for fixes that move us forward.

    • Al Ozzy

      You should thank Bush for that

  • Yasmin Anderson-Smit

    Great article. Most would agree that this election pushed the limits of tolerance on honesty and integrity. Was it just a lapse in judgement on the part of those leaders who authorized the messages of deception or is there a real question of values and character? Was the election a question of value (bottom line) or values (the “things” that elevate us and make our nation strong) A debate worth having. It is difficult to sync what we know publicly of Governor Romney as a good husband, father, and a man who loves his faith and country with the seemingly blind approval of a campaign marked by deceit and untruths from beginning to end. Incivility in politics shapes the perception of our leaders and our nation internally and to the rest of the world. It will take serious effort and commitment to restore America’s image.

  • Russell Crow

    Chrysler builds Jeeps, not GM. Just because you’re dumb, this doesn’t mean you a purposeful liar, Eileen. For instance; if you got a call from CIA on Sept 11, 2012, telling you that armed terrorists had attacked one of our Middle East facilities, our Ambassador was missing, and our elite CIA agents were on the roof targeting these terrorists with laser designators, and you told the CIA Station Chief to stand down and and send no help–that would be very very bad. If for the next 2 weeks, you trotted out your personnel to tell your cover lies for you to the world media, that would be a COVERUP–which is actually a much worse lie. If you then conspired with the moderator of an upcoming Presidential Debate, and then pointed at her (Candy Crowley) and commanded her to produce the documents, and take them out of context before the entire nation, this would be an unspeakable fraud. The worst faux pas you can pin on Romney and Ryan is demagoguery, 716 billion won’t be going to Medicare by whatever mechanism, AND JEEPS WILL BE MADE IN CHINA (as well as Ohio). As for the President, he is a liar, a coward, and a fraud, just like NIXON. The difference between Obama and Nixon is that the people charged with protecting us from monsters like these (our free press) are clearly in bed with the monster.

    • jefe68

      A lot of cars are made in China. As well as other countries. Ford has been making cars in Great Britain for decades. There is a Chrysler plant in China and they might be making about 30,000 Jeeps if the demand is there. You know what gets me about this. The idea of Chrysler opening up a plant in China is so Romney and yet he and the regressive right use it in this manner. It’s really pathetic.

    • Joe Biden

      If you are right, the world as we know it is over.

  • David V

    Nice play on words in this article.

    1) On the Medicare cuts, the article states that Mitt said “Obama robbed Medicare of $716 billion”, and then says, in the same sentence, “The Affordable Care Act does not cut Medicare benefits.” While it’s true that the patient benefits aren’t cut, the Medicare payments to hospitals, insurance companies and administrative costs ARE being cut by 716 billion. Will that translate into worse care for the seniors? Probably.

    2) As for Ryan and the GM plant in Janesville, Obama said while in Janesville in 2008, “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” Paul Ryan said, “I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open. One more broken promise.”

    • massappeal

      1 – The U.S. has by far the most expensive health care system in the world. The American Hospital Association supported the ACA, including the Medicare payment cuts, because the hospitals think those cuts will not hurt patient care. That leaves you arguing in favor of high reimbursement rates for insurance companies, when such rates have no demonstrated connection with higher quality of care for patients. If you want to make that argument, please go ahead, but don’t be surprised if most Americans disagree with you on that use of their tax dollars.

      2 – Neither of the statements you cite changes or contradicts that the decision to close the Janesville plant was made by GM in late 2008. (A skeleton crew kept the plant open to finish making the last order of vehicles until 2009.)

      • David V

        And the costs of our health care system are affected by regulations, lawyers, class action lawsuits, the inability to purchase health insurance from across state lines, malpractice insurance rates, all things that can be affected by better legislation. High reimbursement rates? Hospitals typically get 50 – 70% reimbursement now from Medicare, less if the hospital isn’t in an urban area! And by cutting this further, you really, honestly believe that hospitals and doctors won’t cut services to those on Medicare? Seriously?

        Ryan never said anything about what plans the plant made about closing, or when they made those plans. He was repeating what Obama said. Obama said that with his presidency, the plant would re-tool and NOT close. That’s what Obama said. So tell me then, exactly how was Paul Ryan lying?

        • massappeal

          Thanks for the reply. I’m open to any health care cost proposals you can come up with. The fact of the matter is the ACA, in addition to extending access to health care to 30 – 50 million Americans also is projected to help reduce federal deficits in the coming years. Part of how it does so is by using its market power to encourage insurers and health care providers to work more effectively and efficiently as they do their jobs. In addition, Paul Ryan’s budget plan relies on exactly the same $716 billion in Medicare cost savings. So, for Romney and Ryan to criticize Obama for the ACA without acknowledging their own plan relies on the ACA’s savings is, at best, dishonest.

          As for the Janesville GM plant, I suppose Pres. Obama could have taken control of GM’s assets and ordered the company to reopen the Janesville plant (that GM had already closed—except for a skeleton crew—by the time he took office). Instead, he followed what we might call a more “capitalist” approach by quickly moving GM through a managed bankruptcy, and letting the company’s owners and managers make the decisions that would return the company to profitability.

          • Doubting_Thomas

            That’s the ironic part- Obama is a better capitalist than Romney, who supported the original idea of the bank bailouts, with no strings attached. Obama prefers public equity to crony capitalism.

          • The Old Professor

            Doubt no more Thomas. You have correctly analyzed and stated the historical facts.

        • The Old Professor

          One small problem for all of you: the $715 billion cuts are balanced by universal coverage for practically all Americans for health and hospital care. Currently, hospitals loose hundreds of billions through unpaid care for people who have no access to insurance. The Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) goes a long way toward fixing that hemorrhage of cash in hospitals. By mandating universal coverage, we are doing basically the same thing we do by mandating automobile insurance — protecting the average citizen against loss from someone who is uninsured. If you can’t reason your way through to see how this is a massive step toward controlling health care costs and bringing equity to almost all Americans, then reason and logic cannot reach you. This stupid bantering over misinformation and no information needs to terminate with more people getting their facts straight and then arguing for application of their political principles to an agreed body of FACTS!

  • Scott

    I can’t believe the bold-faced irony here. Aside from the fact that both sides are equally guilty of misconstruing the truth, it is clear the Obama administration has not come clean about Benghazi and the Petraeus resignation was clearly withheld from the public until after the election. We all need to admit that a corrupt political system and the public intolerance for anything other than a sensational headline and 10 minutes of vitriol has driven media honesty and objectivity to historic lows. And we can start by acknowledging reporting like this for the slanted opinion pieces that they are.

    • massappeal

      For what it’s worth, we agree that McNamara’s column is an opinion piece. But then, it’s on the opinion “page” of the website, so that’s to be expected. If you’ve got a critique of the opinon, or if you think anything’s factually incorrect in the column, have at it.

    • The Old Professor

      Well, Scott, your comment is a first step. Now you say “both side” are equally guilty of “misconstruing the truth.” Is that something akin to lying? During the campaign, Republicans backed every lie published by the Romney/Ryan campaign and swore to God that everything Obama’s campaign put out was lies.

      The radicalism of right wing Republicanism/Tea Party style is what has driven “honesty and objectivity to historic lows.” Sensible American voters still outnumber the “lunatic fringe” which gets even more crazy when their candidates are defeated. Next step — even more radical right candidates to win the Republican primary votes, and more defeats for those candidates in the general election cycle. The Republican party is in the same death spiral as the Whig party (which saw the rise of the “Know-Nothings” in the 1850’s) took after the Compromise of 1850. They rushed like a herd of lemmings dashing to their demise in the sea.

      Can the Republican party recapture sanity and move to the role of a responsible loyal opposition between elections until they can find a voice and policies that persuade a majority of Americans to join them? Not for a long while, I fear. The earliest they can hope for anything is 2024, and if not by then, they may go the way of the Do Do bird. Our democracy needs them in a responsible role to help Democrats govern. Without a loyal opposition waiting in the wings, any party in a democracy will get out of line and out of bounds, even and especially one like ours.

      Come on Republicans! Get your heads screwed on straight, stop the obstructionism, moderate the will of the majority through patriotic bipartisanship, and help the country move forward to solve critical and very pressing problems. If you are such great American patriots, prove it. Be the grease that lubricates the gears rather than being the monkey wrench in the wheels of government.

  • PatheticLiberals

    Wow, what utter bullshit this is. No Republican is against “women’s employment.” Fucking pathetic.

    • massappeal

      Well, just to clarify, McNamara’s assertion is that “the changing American electorate…is less…more inclined than the defeated Republican nominee to
      protect the employment…rights of women”.

      I took that as a relatively straightforward criticism of Romney’s inability/refusal to say whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Signed into law by Pres. Obama in 2009, it protects workers’ right to sue employers who have discriminated against workers by paying them unequally.

    • Thisisnoparty

      Dear potty mouth, you make a fitting representative for your party!
      From the NY Times….. WASHINGTON — A bill that would pave the way for women to more easily litigate their way to pay equality failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday as Republicans united against the measure for the second time in two years.

  • Benedict Holland

    This is actually the #1 reason why I am happy that Obama won and I am a large supporter of Obama. If Romney would have won, it would have allowed everyone who followed to run a scorched earth campaign filled with horrible lies and deceit. We have a problem already with truth in politics but when the facts about things that happened are now up for “misinterpretation” we have no more hope. I am surprised that so many people actually did vote for him and I have a bad feeling it is due to the pure hatred of Obama, either for the vilification of democrats or the anti-Muslim racist bent which has people trying to figure out how a black man actually became president and how can they delegitimize him.

    • Fed14

      The saddest part of all is that the majority of people that voted for the lie slinger, are the people who would most benefit from Obama’s legislation. But instead of looking for facts, they eat up Fox news lies and GOP propaganda like nobody’s business.

  • stcampbell

    Fact Check: Jeep is owned by Chrysler, not General Motors. Please fix.

  • jo

    The left wing media will not stop. Where’s the woman’s name Romney killed with cancer? McNamara, you should be in jail for journalism malpractice. You are a coward.

  • Jordan Rocha

    Truth concerns the exactitude of belief, not reality. Both candidates manipulated their facts to fit their own agendas. While Obama is the lesser of two evils in this matter, he is by no means innocent of political spin. This article(propaganda) lacks the journalistic objectivity to be taken seriously, which hints to what’s wrong with our biased media today.

  • Julie Dunn

    Let’s hear it for the “reality-based community! Yaaay!

  • Adam Mandeville

    Is there exit polling the demonstrates that people were swayed from voting for Romney because of his campaign lies? It seems like if he stood behind his false ads, which he did, that many people were none the wiser. In hindsight, it seems like Obama already had this election locked up from the beginning, since it came down to the fact that he already had enough support from key demographics and those demographics were only becoming more active.

  • Mike_Card

    The Romney camaign said it themselves when they insisted that they wouldn’t be slaves to fact-checkers. They realized early on that they could put out sound bites for the 6 o’clock news that would reach millions of couch potatoes. Fact-checkers the following day would only reach thousands, and those thousands had to go digging. So the penalty for lying was negligible, compared to the gain from uttering the lie as truth. But even those enormous deceits didn’t work; they must have picked the wrong fictions.

  • LeonardNicodemo

    I remember that ad you mentioned where they quoted Obama, who was quoting a McCain adviser from 2008. An EMBARRASSMENT that they would try to get away with that.

  • esaeger

    The “Cheap Labor Conservative” ideologues ended up on the ropes, but they really owned the internet, posting massive, massive amounts of propaganda on major sites like Yahoo. 2 or 3 “Young Republicans” at a time, using multiple computers, were absolutely burying civil progressive discussion. There’s an article that’s still on the internet detailing these efforts, and the fact that old-school conservatives should and would be dead as a party if it weren’t for this propaganda and duplicity. The article can be found by Googling “Daily Kos and net warfare multiplicity.” It’s fascinating, and just makes your blood boil.

  • wareinparis

    I shudder to think what might have happened if Etch-A-Sketch had been elected. Thankfully, the American people are smarter and more well informed as a group than to accept the lies of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. When I am counting my American blessings next week at the holiday table, Barack Obama will surely be among them.

  • NotWhiteyBulger

    Romney killed a woman with cancer when a company he owned let a man go five years previous to her diagnosis.

    And Bain Capital didn’t actually help any struggling company be successful, create thousands of jobs, and improve people’s lives.

    The biggest lie is of the campaign is that Obama didn’t engage in dirty politics. And that he isn’t a bitter partisan.

    Bill Clinton worked well with a Republican congress. He came to agreement with them, they reached a compromise. And then he ran off and claimed all the credit. Obama had to rub Republicans’ nose in it with Healthcare. And when the people voted the Democrats out. Republicans remembered and were bitter about it.

  • NotWhiteyBulger

    The left’s dilution that they are superior in virtue is amusing. Hard to be fact checked on the View and David Letterman. You can’t even criticize the current President’s legitimate missteps without being slandered as a racist or having to here that it was all W’s mess (our financial collapse had been brewing for more than decade; our economic troubles even longer).

  • Peter Groves

    I hope this rejection of “Karl Rove” politics continues, the whole Republican mantra is “attack, attack, atack” The truth has no place in their methodology. The surprise to me was that they were shocked that they had lost! We the people are sick and tired of their lies and deceit. I think everyone knows that supply side economics does not work to create jobs, only more wealth for the already wealthy!