Special Christmas DWT News Quiz: Is it possible that, without knowing it, Mitt Romney didn't actually entirely lie?
"I saw the Patriots win the World Series--excuse me, the Super Bowl."
--former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ripped out of context (it's actually even sillier in context, as you'll see)
Now it appears that then-Michigan Gov. George Romney actually did make what is described as a "surprise" appearance at a civil rights march with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Grosse Pointe. The Politico has reported finding two witnesses to such an event, in 1963.
Fortunately for Willard "Mitt" Romney's reputation as someone who wouldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it, this doesn't really undiscredit his lie about seeing his father march with Dr. King in his Richie Rich hometown.
I admit it strikes me as intriguing that Mitt has chosen to resurrect a fable that made sense when he was peddling himself in liberal Massachusetts. But now, when he's pandering his butt off to the right-wing GOP base as the man who put the "big" in "bigot"?
The party I feel bad for here is Mitt's dad. George Romney was a pretty decent guy--an authentically moderate Republican who indeed had a commitment to civil rights, of a sort that would get him drummed out of the party today.
You'd think that Mitt has enough experience by now being caught in lies that he would hve developed better skills at covering over it. Maybe the fault lies with the docile press that up to now really hasn't held him to account for his nonstop whoppers. Meanwhile, what exactly has Mitt been saying about his peculiar story? Better to ask: What hasn't he been saying?
And that in fact is the question for our special Christmas Day DWT News Quiz:
Which of the following things did Mitt Romney NOT say about seeing his father march with Martin Luther King Jr.? (Thanks to Sam Stein and his timeline on Huffington Post the other day.)
(a) "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."
(b) "Actually, I have two dads, in the sense of 'having,' and they used to play pinochle together, Martin Luther King Jr. and, you know, my other dad George, at our house in Grosse Pointe, and they both liked Sousa marches, my two dads, and sometimes when Dr. King was at the house they would go out in the streets and march around while humming 'The Stars and Stripes Forever,' and they let me watch. Many's the time that me and David Broder and Stephen Hess would just stand out on the porch with binoculars watching them."
(c) "I speak in the sense of I saw my dad become president of American Motors. I wasn't actually there when he became president of American Motors, but I saw him in the figurative sense of he marched with Martin Luther King."
(d) "My brother also remembers him marching with Martin Luther King, and so in that sense I saw him march with Martin Luther King."
(e) "You know, I'm an English literature major as well. When we say, 'I saw the Patriots win the World Series,' it doesn't necessarily mean you were there--excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it's a figure of speech."
(f) "If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described. It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort."
(g) "The point we were making was that the issue of Mormonism had to do with its civil rights record. Did he walk with Martin Luther King? Today, I have no idea."
Yes indeed, our Mitt said nearly all of these things--all, in fact, but (b) and (g), and (b) is just silly, unworthy of appearing in a serious News Quiz.
Come to think of it, (g) is kind of silly too but is relevant because it was said by an actual person, Stephen Hess, now Senior Fellow Emeritus, Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He was explaining recently what he and now-legendary pundit David S. Broder might have meant when they wrote, in their 1967 book The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the GOP that George Romney "has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit." It doesn't appear that either of them could, or can, source the story. Very likely it was just some story they heard--and repeated.
And on that note, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.