One of the rules of American politics is that we are not supposed to remember things, at least we are not supposed to remember bad things about Republicans or disparate treatment meted out by the “liberal” media based on the political affiliation of the person being treated. Some of us do remember, though, and one of the things I remember with some bitterness is the press’s insistence on branding Al Gore a liar based on the flimsiest of evidence. Exhibit 1, you may recall, was his claim that he invented the internet. The fact that he never made such a claim was deemed of no importance, inasmuch as it ran contrary to the meme created by the people who spread the lie in the first place.
Now we are engaged in yet another election, and we have a candidate running on the R side of the ledger for whom lying is the default response whenever it suits his purposes. It allows him to say one thing to one audience, and then to deny he said that very thing when he must justify his statements to the rest of the world, without a bit of real blowback from the press. Consider this latest:
Mitt Romney caused a stir in Jerusalem by suggesting Israel’s economic superiority over the Palestinian territories was a product of “culture” and “providence,” but the Republican candidate insists that he was misunderstood.
FOX News’s Carl Cameron grilled Romney on his remarks, which top Palestinian officials immediately denounced as “racist,” in an interview from Poland on Tuesday. The Obama campaign also accused Romney of needlessly inflaming tensions in the region.
Romney responded that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy,” while adding broadly that a nation’s “choices” affect their outcomes.
Romney’s insistence that he was not addressing Palestinian culture seems at odds with his lengthy and detailed speech at a fundraiser in which he offered up a direct comparison between the per capita GDP of Israel and the Palestinian territories before launching into an explanation of why he thinks culture and perhaps a little divine help are so important to the stronger Israeli economy.
“I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries,” Romney said at the time. “As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”
“Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.” One of the additional factors he cited was “the hand of providence.”
(via Talking Points Memo)
Now, Romney’s denial was not an exaggeration, or dubious but somewhat plausible spin. It was, as the article makes clear, an absolutely direct lie about something that happened the day before the lie was uttered; not long enough for Romney to even plausibly claim forgetfulness, unless he lives in the eternal now.
So, eager Democrats with memories want to know: where is the meme? When will the Romney as liar narrative come front and center as it did with Gore? After all, this time the meme is true. That should count for something, shouldn’t it?
Addendum: Romney's GDP figures were wrong too, whether, in this instance, because he was lying or just making things up (pretty much the same thing, really) is not clear.