"There's also an interesting conversation to be had," Rachel noted, about how much you can get away with and still be considered a viable candidate for president." This conversation can be built on straightforward question: "Are we so inured to the idea of everybody calling each other a liar, that when somebody actually really does blatantly lie it doesn't matter anymore? Ultimately, that is not a question about these guys fighting it. That is a question about us."
Before you answer that question, perhaps consider the 26th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.
1. The Romney campaign argued this week that Fisker Automotive "got over half a billion dollars in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, which did not result in jobs being created in America, but actually jobs being created overseas in Finland."
This has been debunked over, and over, and over, and over again. It was a lie when it came up a year ago, and now it's been downgraded to a rather pathetic lie.
2. At a campaign event in Bowling Green, Ohio, Romney said Obama intends to "raise taxes on small business."
No, actually, he doesn't. In fact, it's a detail that generally goes overlooked, but the president has actually cut taxes on small businesses several times.
3. At the same event, Romney added, "This president said he'd cut the deficit in half. He's doubled it."
Maybe Romney doesn't know what "double" means. The deficit on Obama's first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it's projected to be $1.1 trillion. When he says the president "more than doubled" the deficit, as he has many times, Romney's lying.
4. Romney also argued, "The president and his administration said they are going to usurp your religious freedom by demanding that you provide products to your employees, if you're the Catholic Church, that violates your own conscience."
Neither the Catholic Church nor any other house of worship are required to "provide products" -- in this case, contraception -- to their employees. Churches are exempt from preventive-care requirements. Romney knows this, but continues to lie anyway.
5. He went on to say, "There's only one person I know who has cut Medicare by $500 billion, and that's President Obama."
Romney says this a lot. He's not telling the truth.
6. Romney told WTOL in Ohio that, when it came to the rescue of the auto industry, "My plan was absolutely right." (thanks to reader F.B. for the tip)
7. The Romney campaign said repeatedly this week that it's "standard" for a presidential nominee to only release two years' worth of tax returns.
8. At a rally in Irwin, Pennsylvania, Romney said, "The Chamber of Commerce went out to their members and surveyed them and said, 'What's been the impact of Obamacare?' And three-quarters -- three-quarters -- said they are less likely to hire people because of Obamacare."
The "survey" is a joke. The Chamber, a pro-Republican lobbying institution heavily invested in helping Romney, put up an unscientific online survey. Treating this as a legitimate poll of businesses is fundamentally dishonest.
9. At the same event, Romney claimed that President Obama promised "he'd hold unemployment below 8 percent."
As Romney surely knows by now, that's simply not true.
10. He also said, "When you increase the number of regulations that are created three times that of his predecessor ... you don't add jobs."
This is based on a dishonest premise. Obama approved fewer regulations in his first three years in office than Bush did in his first three years.
11. Romney went on to say, "When you put in place regulations that don't allow coal to be able to be mined or to be used, these things kill jobs, and that's got to stop."
In reality, coal production is up, not down.
12. Romney added, "I'm ashamed to say that we're seeing our president hand out money to the businesses of campaign contributors.... That kind of crony capitalism does not create jobs, and it does not create jobs here."
There is no universe in which this is even remotely true.
13. At the same event, Romney said Obama blamed "ATM machines" for economic problems.
As his lies go, this one's just dumb.
14. Romney also argued, "We won't forget, by the way, that Congress was in his party for two years with a supermajority."
That's demonstrably untrue. In Obama's first two years, Democrats did not have a supermajority for 20 out of 24 months.
15. Romney went on to say, "You can look at what [Obama] said. And what he said was this; he said, and I quote, and he's speaking, by the way, of business like this one; small businesses, big businesses, middle-sized businesses, mining businesses, manufacturing service businesses of all kinds. He said this; 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.'"
16. He added, "The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn't build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn't build McDonald's, that Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft, you can go on to list.... To say something like that is not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it's wrong."
The only two accurate words in that quote are, "It's wrong." The rest is ridiculously untrue, since Obama never said economic pioneers didn't build their enterprises.
17. Romney said, "Look, President Obama attacks success, and therefore, under President Obama we have less success."
For one thing, Romney has never been able to point to a single instance in which Obama has attacked success. For another, we're having a hell of a lot more success now than we were four years ago.
18. Romney went on to say the president is "trying to take work out of welfare requirements."
This is untrue to a jaw-dropping degree.
19. He added that Obama "wants Americans to be ashamed of success."
If Romney can produce any evidence in support of this lie, I'll donate a bucket of cash to the charity of his choice.
20. Romney said "in the last three and a half years, we've seen ... higher taxes keeps us from achieving what we can achieve."
Taxes haven't gone up; they've gone down. In fact, Americans' federal tax burden has down, reaching a 30-year low after Obama cut taxes in 2009.
21. Romney spoke about trade agreements and said, "Do you know how many this president's put in place? Zero. Zero."
I don't know why Romney keeps telling this lie, but he does.
22. Romney vowed, "Slow growth means fewer jobs, and that is why as president of the United States, I will get America on track to have a balanced budget."
There's overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Romney says his plan "can't be scored," but independent budget analysts have found his agenda would make the deficit bigger, not smaller, and add trillions to the national debt.
23. The Romney campaign argued this week that Obama "told the businesspeople of America they shouldn't take credit for building their businesses."
Not only did Obama not say this, the president's argument was later endorsed by Mitt Romney.
24. The Romney campaign also claimed that the president "never really held a private sector job in which he earned a real paycheck."
This is a common attack, but it's not true. Obama worked at a private-sector law firm before entering public service.
25. The campaign also argued that Obama has accused Romney of "not paying taxes."
That's wrong, too. Team Obama has said there are all kinds of unanswered questions about Romney's finances, since he keeps his tax returns secret, but neither Obama nor his campaign has ever said Romney didn't pay his taxes.
26. The Romney campaign also released a video that tied together two separate Obama sentences to make it seem as if he was making an argument he did not make.
Even by 2012 standards, wrenching presidential comments from context this ridiculously was outrageously dishonest.
Finally, Romney told Fox News this week, "A campaign based on falsehood and dishonesty does not have long legs." We'll learn soon enough whether that's true.