Romney declared about Obama's approach to the Arab Spring that "the greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East -- friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us."
However, Romney then added, "I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf."
Besides the lies and misrepresentations in the speech, there were some genuine policy differences expressed by the Republican presidential nominee. For instance, he vowed to expand the U.S. military and to deploy it more aggressively around the globe.
Romney also repeated his pledge to yoke U.S. foreign policy to Israel's desires. "The world must never see any daylight between our two nations," he said.
And Romney renewed his belligerence against Russia, which he had previously deemed "without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe." In his speech on Monday, Romney said, "I will implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin."
Despite the Depression-level economic crisis gripping Europe, Romney also announced that he "will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending. Today, only 3 of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark."
One might regard Romney's neoconservative revival as delusional in a variety of ways -- further driving the United States toward bankruptcy even as U.S. interventionism in the Muslim world would surely make matters worse -- but it is Romney's reliance on systematic lying that perhaps should be more troubling to American voters.
Romney has long been known as a serial flip-flopper who changes positions to fit the political season, but his pervasive mendacity has been a concern since the Republican primaries when his GOP rivals complained about him misrepresenting their positions and reinventing his own. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Mitt Romney: Professional Liar."]
That pattern has continued into the general election campaign, with Romney telling extraordinary whoppers on the campaign trail and even during last Wednesday's presidential debate, such as when he claimed his health-care plan covered people with pre-existing conditions when it doesn't. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Mitt Romney as Eddie Haskell."]
One reason that I criticized Romney's debate performance -- though many other Americans, including many Democrats, disagreed with my assessment -- was that I felt his lying and his squirrely behavior were more important than Obama's sluggishness. Telling lies while waving your arms shouldn't trump telling the truth in a moderate tone.
Indeed, as a journalist, I simply cannot abide politicians who lie systematically, who don't just trim the truth once in a while but make falsehoods a strategic part of their politics and policies.
When I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a reporter for the Associated Press, the nation had just emerged from the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. To reassure the country that the government could be honest, President Jimmy Carter promised never to lie to the American people.
But then came the Reagan administration with its concept of "perception management," i.e., the manipulation of the public's fears and prejudices for the purpose of lining up the people behind new foreign adventures. A chief "public diplomacy" goal of the administration was to cure the American people of "the Vietnam Syndrome."
Thus, minor threats, like peasant uprisings in Central America, were portrayed as part of a grand Soviet strategy to invade the United States through Texas. The strength of the Soviet Union was itself exaggerated to justify a massive U.S. military build-up. Today's neocons cut their teeth of such distortions and lies.