Kevin Drum remains my favorite political blogger. I find his views congenial (obviously), but more than that, I like his commonsense take on things. Here he is with a headline dear to my heart: The Creepy Small Lies of the Romney Campaign. Drum links to an item from David Weigel at Slate, It’s a Weekday, So It’s Time for Another Misleading Edit of an Obama Quote, in which Weigel points out how the Romney campaign is taking an Obama remark about Clinton-era tax rates producing better economic results than Bush II-era tax rates and selectively misquoting it to make it sound like Obama is claiming the economy has done great on his (Obama’s) watch.
We’ve now seen the Romney campaign make hay out of three wild misquotations:
* "If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose," which turned out to be Obama in 2008 quoting John McCain. "What’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander," Romney said in his defense.
* "If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that," a statement that quite obviously referred to the "roads and bridge" of the previous sentence. This one is so bad that supporters have taken to splicing it together with an earlier part of Obama’s speech and simply removing the "roads and bridges" reference entirely.
* "We tried our plan — and it worked."
As Weigel says, "At this point, getting video clips of Obama from Republican campaigns is like getting an article pitch from Jayson Blair. It might tell a good story, but you need to run down the source and triple-check."
I know I keep asking this, but has any previous campaign ever done this on such a routine basis? I don’t mean to suggest that no campaign has ever been as nasty. Obviously Willie Horton and "creating the internet" and the Swiftboating of 2008 were worse. And both sides traffic in distortions and cherry picking all the time. But there’s something about the methodical small lies of the Romney campaign that seems quite new. And frankly, just plain creepy.