I am sickened to my bones by the lying.
10 October 2012
Film history is rife with narratives about corrupt politicians, so we have plenty of models for thinking about how virtue gets corrupted along the way to political office. Think of Robert Redford in The Candidate (1972) or Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men (1949, below) — the basic trope is that politics corrupts.
But film history gives me no model by which to understand Mitt Romney’s willingness to lie during this campaign. He’s the political equivalent of Gumby: endlessly plastic, bendable. I am sickened to my bones of a man who either is willing to say anything to make himself more appealing to voters — no matter that he claimed just the opposite last week or last month — or someone with so few actual political commitments that they all seem to him to be accurate. He praised Planned Parenthood till he condemned it; now he claims to have no plans to dismantle abortion rights despite having been avidly pro-life to the point of advocating a personhood amendment. Each time he lies, his big eyes and handsome face and devout Mormonism all seem to try to reassure me that he’s at heart a good man, an honest man. It is all a lie.
In the one week since the debate with President Obama, Romney’s campaign has had to “walk back from” (i.e., deny) a number of the most crucial things he professed during that evening. His campaign has just today denied that he really meant to flip on the abortion question. What do you call a man who lies with such skill? What do you call a man who shape-shifts with such dexterity and disinterest in political commitment, yet decries his opponent for getting his position wrong. I am sick to death of it, and have a fear in my soul that a desperate American public will believe what it wants to hear — whatever little piece suits their fancy. For this man, no policy matters enough that he will not change positions depending on who’s listening.
In Romney’s America, there will be no king in Israel.