Is Obama shallow, or is Romney a "liar"

As Romney takes the lead in the polls the Democrats are rattled. But who has the explanation for this reversal of fortune?

by Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher on 9 October 2012 10:01

According to the pollster Pew, Mitt Romney has taken a significant lead over Barack Obama. Following Obama's wipeout in the first presidential debate, Pew now gives Romney 49 percent to Obama's 45 percent among likely voters. 

Needless to say, the Democrats are rattled and their strategy is to try and undo the benefits Romney accrued from his performance by attempting to discredit it as a sham. No surprise there of course. What is interesting is the line they have settled on, which is that Romney discombobulated the president by confronting him with a pack of lies.

If you think that's an exaggeration, see this piece from Truthdig's Joe Conason on Real Clear Politics, tellingly entitled: "Highly Debatable: The Big Liar's biggest lies." That doesn't leave much to the imagination. What does is the justification for the charge. As far as I can see it is a rather desperate attempt to conflate difference of opinion with dishonesty.

For example, Conason quotes what he calls the chief architect of Romney's health care policies in Massachusetts as saying that Romney's efforts to draw a substantial distinction between those policies and Obamacare are dishonest. "Lying again?" asks Conason. "Indeed, the falsehoods flowed on every conceivable subject," he opines.

This is probably the one single issue on which Romney could be accused of trying to pull a fast one. But who is to say what constitutes a difference of emphasis and what constitutes a difference of substance? Maybe Romney really does think the two bills are essentially distinct. Maybe he's changed his mind and wants to get that message across. There are any number of variations on such themes. But lying?

A better explanation of what really happened in the debate, and one which I would designate a "must read" for anyone trying to grapple with contemporary US politics comes from Dennis Prager, also featured by Real Clear Politics:

"First, Obama lost because he, like virtually the entire left, lives in a left-wing bubble. Left-wing academics live in this bubble. There is no greater uniformity of thought than at our universities; their much-ballyhooed commitment to diversity is about race and ethnicity, not about ideas. So, too, the great majority of news media people live in the same bubble, the left-wing herd that covers national and international news."

Warming to his task, Prager adds:

"Obama is a man of the left. Leftism is his Weltanschauung, his value system, his way of understanding the world. Every one of the president's mentors whom we know about was a leftist, usually a radical leftist. The church he was married in and the pastor he adored were leftist. His work -- "community organizer" -- was left-wing work.

"When you live in a bubble -- be it religious or political -- you cannot successfully debate opposing views. You're not even familiar with what those opposing views are. This debate was the first time in Obama's presidency -- if not his life -- that he had to defend the policies he believes in against an articulate conservative.

"He couldn't."

Prager has plenty more insights, such as the fact that Obama is useless without a teleprompter, but for my money this is key.

And this also explains why the mud-slinging about Romney-the-liar which has for now superseded the previous line about Romney-and-his-racist-friends looks and sounds so unconvincing.

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