Frank Bruni recently argued that Mitt Romney won his first debate with Barack Obama because he showed more “bravado,” which Bruni seems to think is the one character trait common to all successful politicians.
In making his point, Bruni dodged an important question: Would voters favor the candidate with bravado — “outsize confidence” is another term Bruni used — even if they knew that candidate was a liar?
Bruni wrote “For the debate viewers [Romney] was all pluck and no doubt, even when he fibbed or flipped,” while Obama, on the other hand, “…just lost touch with his bravado in Denver.”
There’s the dodge — Romney didn’t merely fib and flip, he contradicted positions he’d previously taken and pretended he’d been taking the same positions all along. He lied, boldly and frequently, and Bruni should have stated this plainly. He should have mentioned that Romney lied when he said Obama “has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years,” and when he said Obama was “silent” in the face of street protests in Iran in 2009. And so on.
Here’s how Robert Parry weighed in on the issue:
Romney has long been known as a serial flip-flopper who changes positions to fit the political season, but his pervasive mendacity has been a concern since the Republican primaries when his GOP rivals complained about him misrepresenting their positions and reinventing his own…
That pattern has continued into the general election campaign, with Romney telling extraordinary whoppers on the campaign trail and even during last Wednesday’s presidential debate, such as when he claimed his health-care plan covered people with pre-existing conditions when it doesn’t…
Parry added, “Telling lies while waving your arms shouldn’t trump telling the truth in a moderate tone.”
And finally, “It’s almost as if many Americans like being lied to.”
Don’t get me wrong: The person who immediately should have called Romney on his lies was Obama. Maybe he was simply stunned by the audacity of Romney’s mendacity, or afraid of appearing angry, but those aren’t good excuses.
But reporters add nothing to the discussion by focusing on bravado and other intangibles. They merely reveal themselves as unwilling to break free of the old “he said, she said” approach to journalism that helps liars such as Romney prosper.
Bruni used Dan Rather’s next-day assessment of Romney’s performance to help make his case: “We learned again last night, if we needed any reminding, that there’s power in taking the view, ‘Listen, I’m frequently in error, but never in doubt.’ ”
That’s exactly wrong, Dan. Romney and like-minded politicians actually are saying, “I’m frequently lying, but never in doubt.” And it’s the job of journalists to call attention to their lies.
Footnote: Obama is terrible, but can you imagine what’s in store for the 99 percent if the Romneybot, the “corporations are people” candidate, is elected?