Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seeing is believing

Marching with King

Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo has a comment about Mitt Romney's recent kerfuffle over whether his father actually marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. At first it appeared that Mitt was just talking through his hat. Now it appears possible that his recollection was correct. Is it all settled? Not exactly. Even if it were, however, Kleefeld remains puzzled:
There's one lingering question, though: If the facts do vindicate Mitt Romney on this one—and at first glance, this looks legit—why did he handle it so awkwardly and ineptly right off the bat? Why all the parsing about what the word "saw" meant, and the business about "march with" being figurative?
Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to this one!

Mitt Romney tried to pump up his political heritage by claiming that George Romney participated in civil rights marches with Martin Luther King, Jr. When corroborating evidence seemed thin or nonexistent, Romney believed he had misspoken. As a quintessential politician, Romney can't allow himself to say he was wrong. That would be wrong! No, he was merely using figurative speech. That's not a lie! That's not a mistake! It's just painting an image with words. See? How pretty and inspirational!

However this all thrashes out, whether George Romney really marched with King or didn't, his son stands revealed as a word-parser of the first order. (And here we thought he was just a conscienceless opportunist.) If Mitt Romney becomes the GOP nominee for president, will the Republicans have to refrain from dredging up accusations of Democratic hairsplitting in the tradition of Bill Clinton and a certain White House intern?

I'm guessing not.

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