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Friday, December 23, 2011

Paul Krugman: The Post-Truth Campaign

The truth is out there, but don't expect to find it in the Romney campaign:

The Post-Truth Campaign, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: ...[C]onsider what Mr. Romney ... said on Tuesday: “President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others.”
And in an interview the same day, Mr. Romney declared that the president “is going to put free enterprise on trial.” ...
Mr. Obama has never said anything suggesting that he holds such views... Over all, Mr. Obama’s positions on economic policy resemble those that moderate Republicans used to espouse. Yet Mr. Romney portrays the president as the second coming of Fidel Castro and seems confident that he will pay no price for making stuff up.
Welcome to post-truth politics. ...Mr. Romney ... has based pretty much his whole campaign ... attacking Mr. Obama for doing things that the president hasn’t done and believing things he doesn’t believe.
For example, in October Mr. Romney pledged that as president, “I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts.” That line presumably plays well with Republican audiences, but what is he talking about? The defense budget has continued to grow steadily since Mr. Obama took office.
Then there’s Mr. Romney’s frequent suggestion that the president has gone around the world “apologizing for America.” This is a popular theme on the right — but the so-called Obama apology tour is a complete fabrication... Mr. Romney just invents stuff to make his case.
But won’t there be some blowback? ... Oh, Mr. Romney will probably be called on some falsehoods. But, if past experience is any guide, most of the news media will feel as though their reporting must be “balanced,”... even if what the Democrat said was actually true or, at worst, a minor misstatement.
This isn’t an abstract speculation. Politifact, the project that is supposed to enforce truth in politics, has declared Democratic claims that Republicans voted to end Medicare its “Lie of the Year.” It did so even though Republicans did indeed vote to dismantle Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher scheme that would still be called “Medicare,” but would look nothing like the current program....
So here’s my forecast for next year: If Mr. Romney is in fact the Republican presidential nominee, he will make wildly false claims about Mr. Obama and, occasionally, get some flack for doing so. But news organizations will compensate by treating it as a comparable offense when, say, the president misstates the income share of the top 1 percent by a percentage point or two.
The end result will be no real penalty for running an utterly fraudulent campaign. As I said, welcome to post-truth politics.

    Posted by on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 12:47 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (96)


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