Over the weekend, on Meet the Press, which is apparently still pretending to be a serious hard news show, Mitt Romney said this:
“Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with preëxisting conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their— their family up to whatever age they might like.”
Leaving aside the ridiculousness of the idea that people would be able to just wave a magic wand and have their children covered basically forever (this is the rhetorical equivalent of shrugging and saying, “eh, whatever you want to hear”), a few short hours later, the Romney campaign had this to say:
“In a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”
and also this:
“Governor Romney will ensure that discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage is prohibited”
Even the most casual reader would notice something specific about these statements: they are the opposite of each other. Mitt Romney went on national television, was asked a direct question, gave an answer he knew people wanted to hear, and then later sent some notes out to conservative reporters to say “don’t worry, I didn’t actually mean that stuff.” These follow up statements essentially say that Mitt Romney’s health care plan is to send everyone fuzzy wishes and hope they feel better. And the fact that he wouldn’t admit that in the first place means that in that particular moment, Romney realized how cretinous it would sound to give a massive fuck you to every American with a chronic health condition and just told the interviewer what they wanted to hear.
I’ve read a fair number of commentators today who think that somewhere in this exchange there are small breadcrumbs leading towards a useful understanding of Mitt Romney’s true policy. That’s bullshit. I think the answer is pretty obvious: Mitt Romney lied. He told a self-serving lie that he knew people wanted to hear. He knew it was not in his interest to tell the truth, so he didn’t.
Maybe that’s a less interesting conclusion, or maybe the collective press is simply too polite to point it out. Maybe the language of politics has collapsed in on itself to such an extend that the actual words Romney used were black holes of meaning. But either way, Mitt Romney lied. It’s possible that if we called it that more often, it might happen slightly less.