I don’t know how I missed this last month. Oh, wait – I do – it was in Time Magazine (yes, it’s still out there), and Time isn’t on my daily go-to list.
So I see the following headline, and am intrigued:
The Root of Mitt Romney’s Comfort with Lying
The author, Justin Frank (M.D.!) discusses one specific example where Mitt Romney, um, prevaricated, was corrected by the original source, and then said the same thing again.
(Steve Benen, by the way, keeps a running tab of Romney’s fibs over at his Maddowblog home.)
So: what is the root of Mitt Romney’s comfort with lying, according to Dr Frank?
I found myself discussing this situation with several colleagues, and we agreed that Romney doesn’t lie. Let me repeat: Mitt Romney doesn’t lie. He is telling the truth as he sees it — and truth it is, the facts notwithstanding. This is not simply a case of Hamlet arguing about point of view, saying, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” This is about a conflict between evidence and faith. There is a long tradition in the Mormon belief system in which evidence takes second place to faith. Examples abound, as when two Mormon elders who were questioned about the inconsistency in passages from the Book of Mormon said, “We know the Book of Mormon is true and that it contains the Word of God even in the face of evidence that appears contradictory,” according to The Mormon Missionaries by former Mormon Janice Hutchison. Thus there are no lies, only faith-based certainty that translates as truth for which no apology is needed, since what was said was not a lie.
Yes, faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
It is not an answer to actual contrary evidence.
The Mormon faith has it that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a prophet, and not a con man looking for a way to swathe his multiple infidelities in a made-up religious doctrine. So no matter what I believe about Mormonism, when Mitt stands up and talks about Joseph Smith as a prophet, I’ll give him a pass.
The Mormon faith, to my knowledge, is silent on immigration policy, the Affordable Care Act, private sector job growth in the United States since 2009, and U.S Trade policy during the Obama Administration, to name a few examples.
So when Mitt Romney lies about each of these things – and you can check in with Mr. Benen above to see that he has – it has nothing to do with him being a Mormon.
It has to do with him being a liar.
It’s far more likely that the articles of faith that are enabling Romney’s trail of deceit involve a cowardly press that is hesitant to point out when Mitt is just making shit up, and his (so far correct) belief that they will, for the most part, hem and haw and do the he said-he said thing over and over until November.
For what it’s worth, I’m happy that someone on a website that isn’t associated with dirty hippies acknowledges that Mitt Romney treats the truth like he owes it $10,000 in gambling debts. But if someone lies, easily and repeatedly, blaming it on a faith that hasn’t, so far, afflicted all of its adherents with a habitual lying gene seems like, well, quackery.
I would remind Dr. Frank of Occam’s Razor. Mitt Romney wants to be President. He perceives that dishonesty is a viable path to that goal. Ergo, he lies.
If Dr. Frank is correct, and Romney doesn’t believe he is lying, then there’s a word for this condition.
If Romney knows he’s lying but believes it’s necessary for him to achieve his goal, then two reasons come to mind.
The kinder one is that he’s Machiavellian.
The not so kind one is that he’s psychopathic.
But it’s not that he’s a Mormon.