Mitt Romney reversed course yet again Wednesday, announcing that yes, the financial penalty used to enforce ObamaCare must be considered a tax. As a consequence of that redefinition, “the American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made; he said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans,” Romney told CBS News.
On the other hand, Romney insisted, the almost identical financial penalty that is used to enforce Romney’s almost identical health-insurance program in Massachusetts was somehow NOT a tax increase because … well, just because.
How could that be?
I have no earthly idea. Perhaps the only way to understand Romney’s claim is to note that it comes from the same mind that harshly criticized President Obama’s plan to rescue the Detroit automakers, yet later swooped in to announce that “I’ll take a lot of credit” for the success of the plan that he had claimed to hate.
That bizarre argument in turn becomes more comprehensible if you recall how Romney first attacked President Obama for not intervening aggressively in Libya, and a few weeks later turned around and attacked him for, well, intervening aggressively in Libya.
Likewise, he criticized Obama for seeking the removal of Moammar Gaddafi, predicting that the president was setting himself up for “massive strategic failure.” A few weeks later, when Gaddafi’s ouster was completed, Romney announced his complete support for the removal of “one of the worst actors on the world stage, responsible for terror around the world.”
The examples go on and on, from immigration reform to education to Afghanistan. One of Romney’s favorite themes is to condemn Obama for not providing clear leadership on such issues, then refusing to explain what he, as a supposedly strong, determined leader, would do differently.
George Orwell, in his novel “1984″, provides us a name for this terrible illness afflicting Romney. He called it “doublethink,” “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
As Orwell puts it:
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, … to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.”
The world of reality and the world of politics are often at odds. That is true of all politicians of all ideologies, from President Obama down to city council candidates. But I cannot recall a politician for whom reality has been more malleable than it is for Mitt Romney. To borrow from Orwell, he expects us to forget what he said yesterday, and then to forget that we’ve forgotten.
– Jay Bookman