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The “Truths” Mitt Romney Is Willing to Tell

The great German filmmaker Werner Herzog has an illuminating formulation to describe his unorthodox way of making documentaries. There is, Herzog says, an “accountant’s truth,” and there is an “ecstatic truth.”

Herzog is all about seeking the latter, as he explained to Slate magazine:

In his own nonfiction films, Herzog wants to tell stories  and he doesn’t feel beholden to fact. His approach to documentary is an  alternative to cinema vérité, the observational aesthetic that proceeds  “as if presenting facts was everything.” Just because something is  factually true, he argues, “it does not constitute truth per se.” Herzog  likes to respond to and collaborate with his subjects; if he bends  fact—by inventing dialogue, for instance—it is to the ends of “truth.”  The Manhattan phone directory provides millions of correct entries, he  says, “but it doesn’t inspire you”; in the film, he says it doesn’t tell  you what Manhattanites dream. Instead of fact, which is the  “accountant’s truth,” he is after the kind of “ecstatic truth” available  to poetry: “These moments are rare but I’m trying to find them, which  is why I have had different goals from some of my colleagues.”

Which “truth” is former Gov. Mitt Romney going to tell about  President Barack Obama’s administration: the accountant’s truth or the  ecstatic truth?

Romney telling an accountant’s truth would sound something like his interview with radio host Laura Ingraham,  wherein President Obama inherited a bad economy that has improved  modestly despite, not because of, the efforts of his administration:

The economy always gets better after a recession, there  is always a recovery. There’s never been a time anywhere in the world  where an economy has never recovered. The question is, has it recovered  by virtue of something the president’s done or has he delayed the  recovery and made it more painful?

To stick with the Herzog formulation, Romney is here reciting the   political equivalent of the Manhattan phone directory—uninspiring, to  say the least.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s success,  such as it is, lies in his willingness to tell what conservatives would  consider the “ecstatic truth”: that Obama is a radical un-American to  his core; that he is anti-work and pro-dependency.

Savvy conservatives know very well that telling the accountant’s  truth about Obama is not going to be enough to defeat him, and they’re  worried that Romney isn’t mean enough to deliver the necessary payload of ecstasy.

I think this fear is misplaced.

If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would’ve said (actually, I did say)  there are places Romney just won’t go in order to get himself elected. I  no longer believe that. He was posturing all along—trying to remain  above the fray for as long as he could. After South Carolina, that  became untenable. The Romney campaign’s self-described “destruction” of Gingrich in Florida is an indication of how much he means business.

We know this: Romney is wildly ambitious and willing to lie.

Whether enough Americans are going to buy the ecstatic truth from an  uncharismatic plutocrat with a strange-seeming religion is an open  question. But I have no doubt that Romney will try to sell it.

 

By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012 - Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , ,

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