It's Not a Lie

To lie is to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.

I think I'm beginning to understand the disconnect between those who are apalled at Mitt Romney's lies and constantly shifting positions and those who don't think Mitt's falsehoods are a big deal. I got a little flash of insight while watching "The Choice" on PBS. The show revealed something about Romney and about values that had not occurred to me.

It boils down to a difference in values and what your definition of integrity is. I was taught that a person's integrity was judged, in part, by words. That what you say is what you believe in. That to say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow demonstrates hypocracy. If hypocracy is not lying, then it's dishonesy's twin brother. Once you demonstrate hypocracy you can no longer be believed. I was punished as a child for dishonest and deceptive behavior. For me learning to tell the truth was part of growing from childhood to adulthood.

Now imagine a scenario where you are not punished for hypocracy but rewarded. Every time you switch your opinion on some issue you are encouraged through reward to do it again and again. Go into a business meeting and say one thing. Go meet with other business people and say what they want to hear to get the deal done. Not all business people are liars but for many being deceptive is rewarded. You begin to think of yourself not as a liar but rather pragmatic and smart. This is the world that Mitt Romney inhabits. I think this is where Paul Ryan resides too.

It's pathological but it's also ingrained, completely part of who they are.  And to them it's not something to be ashamed of but rather something to be proud of.  It's like the criminal who can pass a lie detector test. It's not a lie if you believe it.  It's not a lie if there's no intent to deceive. So it's not a contradiction for Romney to be both a good man and a liar.