The Problem Isn’t Mitt Romney’s $10,000 Bet Offer. It’s His Serial Dishonesty
One of the biggest pieces of news out of Saturday’s debate is that Mitt Romney offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 over the latter’s claim that Romney wrote in his book that he viewed the individual mandate as a “model” for the country. Dems and Republicans alike are pouncing on the casual offer of a large wager as proof that Romney is out of touch, and reporters are predicting that this moment could crystallize a national media narrative about Romney.
But while the $10,000 moment is politically problematic and revealing in some ways, it doesn’t really deserve to rise to the level of national narrative. What’s more deserving of a national storyline about Romney is his serial dishonesty, his willingness to say and do anything to win.
This morning, Romney is pushing back on the idea that there was anything amiss about the $10,000 bet offer, arguing that he picked an “outrageous” sum to highlight just how “outrageous” Perry’s claim was. But Perry’s claim — while not completely accurate — wasn’t all that outrageous.
Perry argued that Romney wrote that the individual mandate he passed as governor of Massachusetts “should be the model for the country.” It’s true, as PolitiFact points out, that Romney’s book did also say that such reforms should be implemented at the state level. But Romney has in fact talked about the mandate as a national model: In 2007, he said he hoped that “most” states would adopt it, and added that he hopes to see “a nation that’s taken a mandate approach.” Romney is now trying to obscure the fact that he plainly saw his chief accomplishment as something that should ultimately be adopted on a national, or quasi-national, scale.
More broadly, political reporters and commentators are always tempted to seize on such moments as the $10,000 bet as defining of a candidate’s character. But this moment is ultimately almost as trivial as was John Edwards’ $400 haircut. More important is the broader pattern of dissembling and dishonesty that only begins with his equivocations over the mandate. To wit: Romney attacked Newt Gingrich for opposing mass deportation of longtime illegal residents without saying whether he supports such deportation. Romney continues to insist Obama apologized for America, even though this has been repeatedly proven flatly false. Romney released an ad ripping Obama’s quotes out of context in a highly dishonest way — and the campaign later boasted about the media attention the dishonesty secured. Romney falsely asserted that Obama is “bowing to foreign dictators” — then his campaign later insisted the claim was “metaphorical.” And so on.
This broader pattern is what deserves the status of national narrative about Romney’s character, not some throwaway line about a bet.
By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, The Line Plum, December 12, 2011
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