Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans are about to start choosing a standard-bearer for the 2008 elections. If members of the GOP want to rescue their party from its disastrous decline in the public’s trust, they must reject the shameless, dishonorable, dishonest former governor of Massachusetts, Willard Mitt Romney.
Recently, the Boston Phoenix broke the story that Mitt Romney’s claim to have seen his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. was, to put it bluntly, a lie. Further reporting has now clearly demonstrated that George Romney never marched with King.
The story spread like wildfire, forcing Romney to offer a humiliating dissertation on his interpretation of the word “saw.” CNN, the New York Times, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and the rest of the punditry pounced on the story, as did the blogosphere — from the left, right, and center of the ideological spectrum.
The reason the story made such waves, and the reason the Romney campaign fought so hard to stop it (even, knowing it was false, putting forward two “witnesses” to describe an easily disproven event), is that it confirms and epitomizes what everyone already knows about Romney.
Pundits and commentators describe this Romney trait as an “authenticity problem,” or “questions about his sincerity.”
We call it lying. It is something he does repeatedly, on issues large and small. On the presidential campaign trail, he had previously been caught lying about his mythical exploits as a “lifelong hunter”; a non-existent 2002 NRA endorsement; an inflated $3 billion state budget deficit; and fictional steps taken to combat methamphetamine. He has told ever-changing tales to explain his purely opportunistic 180-degree turns on important issues.
There is nothing new here. It is Romney’s character through-and-through — he is a slick salesman who will say anything, regardless of the truth or the consequences, in his vain quest for self-promotion. In his first race for public office, in 1994, he fabricated stories of his mother’s abortion-rights activism, and falsely claimed to have had no knowledge of, or authority over, the heartless sacking of employees at a company bought by his leveraged-buyout firm. As far back as 1978, we now learn, Romney was so bold a liar as to claim, to the Boston Herald, that he personally had marched with Dr. King.
Nothing has changed about his character since. This newspaper called for Romney’s resignation as governor, when it became clear that he was acting not for the good of the citizens of the commonwealth, but to create blurbs for the campaign pamphlets that would soon be sent to Republicans in Iowa and South Carolina.
National candidates have been forced to end their campaigns over much lesser evidence of character flaws: Joe Biden for plagiarism, Gary Hart for philandering, Thomas Eagleton for depression. Romney’s own father dropped out after speaking the truth, with poor choice of words, about what he saw happening in Vietnam.