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No Core Beliefs: “The Most Dangerous Opponent”

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“His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist—they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.” —Matt Taibbi, “Greed and Debt [1]: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital”

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Shape-Shifting as a Business Strategy

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To paraphrase what Mary McCarthy once said [2] about Lillian Hellman, every word out of Mitt Romney’s mouth is a lie, “including and and the.”

We’ve been meaning for some time to draw attention to Matt Taibbi’s excellent piece on the audacity of Romney’s mendacity for Rolling Stone titled “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital [1].” Soon we will go into the business practices side of the article, and the seriously horrifying implications for American workers and the U.S. economy—at least for the 99%. But for now we want to point to Taibbi’s remarks on Romney’s casual readiness to say whatever it takes to whomever he’s addressing, regardless of previous statements, promises, or policies. Read the article and pass it on to anyone and everyone who might be considering voting for Romney, or who wants to make sure Romney gets not one more vote than can be avoided.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street’s greed revolution. . . . He’s Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR—and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we’ll all end up paying for the acquisition. . . . 

[Romney’s] infamous changes of stance are not little wispy ideological alterations of a few degrees here or there—they are perfect and absolute mathematical reversals, as in “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country” and “I am firmly pro-life.” Yet unlike other politicians, who at least recognize that saying completely contradictory things presents a political problem, Romney seems genuinely puzzled by the public’s insistence that he be consistent. “I’m not going to apologize for having changed my mind,” he likes to say.

A member of Romney’s campaign famously remarked [3]—at an RNC breakfast sponsored by ABC News and Yahoo News, no less—“We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Romney’s first debate performance, in which he surprised the president by pretending to be a sunny moderate, after a year of insisting he was “extremely conservative,” was cheerfully free of facts [4] or regard for his previous utterances. How could he possibly remember all the positions he has held on any given topic? Steve Benen’s “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity [5]” is up to volume XXXVII as of Oct. 5.

“The Most Dangerous Opponent Obama Could Have Drawn”

In a chilling review of “The Ungreat Debate [6],” The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg writes (Oct. 15):

All the evidence indicates that Romney has no ‘core beliefs’ beyond a gauzy assumption that the business of America is business and an unshakable, utterly sincere conviction that he, Mitt Romney, ought to be President, deserves to be President, and, for the sake of the country, must be President. His ideological rootlessness, which excites the mistrust of the Republican hard right, is what makes him the most dangerous opponent Obama could have drawn.

What worries us most about this candidate is that his sociopathic shape-shifting would not end after the election: Romney would continue to lie and dissemble as president, every day, in every way. We would never know from day to day which story he believes, on social policy, economics, foreign policy—it would be a different pretense every day, depending on which way the wind is blowing. A Romney-Ryan administration would bring us the horrors of Bush-Cheney-and-worse policies without the stubborn consistency of George W. Bush. Conservatives and corporate business types like to say that the economy needs “certainty”—presumably about whether taxes will go up or down. But if Mitt Romney were elected, the nation and the world would go mad from uncertainty—a different madness from what we have endured for the past four years, with near-suicidal brinksmanship [7] in Congress and the Mad Tea Party [8] and “birtherism” and deranged, stonewalling opposition [9] to everything done by the White House or the Democrats as long as Obama is president.

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