Monday, October 8, 2012

Doublethink



So Romney spokesperson Tara Wall goes on Soledad O'Brien's show this morning, the day Romney is scheduled to deliver an address on foreign policy, and refuses to address Governor Romney's own previous statements on foreign policy questions. When O'Brien pointed out that Romney's current position on Iran is very similar to President Obama's position, for example, Wall said "I'm not going to get into the back and forth on foreign policy. I'm not a foreign policy expert." Why then, one wonders, on the day the candidate is scheduled to talk about foreign policy, did they send someone on CNN who is not going to get into a back and forth about foreign policy?

O'Brien then contrasted Governor Romney's text for today, in which he is going to say that he will re-commit the United States to the goal of an independent Palestinian state, with Romney's recently-released speech to donors in which Romney said that there is just "no way" that is going to happen, and that the best thing to do is move things along and recognize this problem will remain unsolved. O'Brien gives Tara Wall a chance to explain these two completely contradictory positions. Wall's response: "That's contradictory in your view. . . . I don't agree with the premise."

According to the Romney campaign, there are clear differences between Romney's approach and Obama's. What are they? Don't ask. There are also clear differences between what Romney is saying today and what he said a few months ago on the same topic. How do you explain those? Don't ask. You are not going to get any answers from this campaign.

George Orwell coined the term "doublethink" to explain the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one's head at the same time, an ability that seems essential for Romney supporters, e.g., Romneycare is good; Obamacare is bad. Remember the demonstration described in 1984, when the speaker, in the middle of a fiery tirade against Eurasia, finds out that we have just become allies with Eurasia and are now at war with Eastasia. Almost immediately, everyone in the crowd starts believing that we've always been at war with Eastasia. Governor Romney used this technique a number of times during the debate last week, explaining that he's never been in favor of firing teachers, that he never said he wanted to reduce taxes on the wealthy, that his health care plan covers people with pre-existing conditions. His supporters apparently do not even see the contradictions.

For a fuller explanation of the argument technique employed by the Romney campaign, take a look at this Monty Python clip:

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