Point of View Columns

The Consequences of the Truth

Teapublican supporters of Mitt Romney, including Fox News, have touted his primary debate experience as a key advantage in his upcoming debates with President Obama. If verbal jousting with the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain are helping to make Mitt Romney better, then he is in worse shape than current polls already indicate.

There may be some infinitesimal mathematical possibility that trading barbs with Saint Santorum of the Sweater Vest will turn out to be an advantage for Romney in Denver and beyond. What is more likely is that at some point during these debates Mitt Romney is going to have to actually answer a question with the truth.

It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure that Mr. Romney will be asked about his alternative plan to the Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East after all of the criticism expressed by the Teapublican nominee. Mr. Romney has mentioned the assertion of American strength, American values and the American economy as being some kind of fix-all solution. But what, exactly, does that mean?

It is inevitable that Mitt Romney will be asked about his woeful and grotesque remarks about the 47% of the American population that he described as dependent and refusing to accept responsibility. Mr. Romney has acknowledged that his comments were “inelegant”, so what, exactly, is an elegant way of insulting half the American population?

Mr. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have repeatedly asserted that they have a plan that will fix the American economy for decades to come. When asked for details Mr. Ryan has said that he doesn’t have time to give the American people the math. Mr. Romney has been even more opaque. But how can tax cuts for the wealthy be revenue neutral without a major negative economic impact on middle and lower income Americans, including increased taxes and diminished services?

Mr. Romney campaigned in the Teapublican primary with a promise to repeal Obamacare on “day one” of a Romney presidency. When questioned most recently he stated that he would retain key elements of Obamacare including the right of Americans with pre-existing illnesses to get health insurance. More recently he has stated that he thought that emergency room care was a useful alternative to Obamacare. What, exactly, can the American people expect from what Jon Huntsman has described as a well-lubricated weather vane named Mitt Romney?

During the Teapublican primary season Mr. Romney participated in a group demonization of Barack Obama. It seemed that during the Teapublican Klown Karnival the only valid talking point was that anything and everything associated with Barack Obama is bad. Mitt Romney showed himself to be adept at appealing to the baser instincts of the right wing of the right wing, from the anti-immigration zealots to the mental misfits known as birthers.

But now, in the general election, Mr. Romney has to actually explain himself. Does he really believe in self-deportation, a concept that started out as a satirical comedy bit on a California radio station? Does he really believe that it is an option as to whether evolution should be taught in the schools of America?

And, starting Wednesday, Mr. Romney will discover that he cannot answer every question by blaming Barack Obama. Does he really believe that there should be no medical coverage for contraception and that Planned Parenthood should be defunded? Does he agree with his running mate’s filing of several legislative measures that would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest? What can mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and young girls expect from a Romney administration?

Mr. Romney has suggested that college students can borrow money from their financially challenged parents as an alternative to federal aid. He has opposed the federal bailout of the automobile industry which saved over one million American jobs. He has also opposed regulation of the financial services industry which managed to precipitate the near collapse of the global economy just a few short years ago.

There are a lot of questions for Mr. Romney to answer which cannot begin or end with his Blame Obama chant. He has been self-described as inelegant in his presentation. Paul Ryan has called him inarticulate. The London Olympic Committee has a few more names for him.

On Wednesday it may be time to break out the popcorn.

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