Fantasyland

By Frank Rich, New York, at Reader Supported News, Nov 9, 2012

Denial has poisoned the GOP and threatens the rest of the country too.

Mitt Romney is already slithering into the mists of history, or at least La Jolla, gone and soon to be forgotten. A weightless figure unloved and distrusted by even his own supporters, he was always destined, win or lose, to be a transitory front man for a radical-right GOP intent on barreling full-speed down the Randian path laid out by its true 2012 standard-bearer, Paul Ryan. But as was said of another unsuccessful salesman who worked the New England territory, attention must be paid to Mitt as the door slams behind him in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s brilliant victory. Though Romney has no political heirs in his own party or elsewhere, he does leave behind a cultural legacy of sorts. He raised Truthiness to a level of chutzpah beyond Stephen Colbert’s fertile imagination, and on the grandest scale. That a presidential hopeful so cavalierly mendacious could get so close to the White House, winning some 48 percent of the popular vote, is no small accomplishment. The American weakness that Romney both apotheosized and exploited in achieving this feat—our post-fact syndrome where anyone on the public stage can make up anything and usually get away with it—won’t disappear with him. A slicker liar could have won, and still might.

Aall politicians lie, and some of them, as Bob Kerrey famously said of Bill Clinton in 1996, are “unusually good” at it. Every campaign (certainly including Obama’s) puts up ads that stretch or obliterate the truth. But Romney’s record was exceptional by any standard. …

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