There is a long-standing strain in conservative thought that America is essentially a conservative country that has been led astray and duped by the "liberal media" and Hollywood. The most recent articulation of this view is in books like "Obama Zombies" and documentaries like "The Obama Deception," that contend that the election of Barack Obama was the result of a brainwashed electorate.
If that were the case, then one would think conservatives would relish the few hours of live televised debates as their only chance to reach voters unfiltered by the black magic of the liberal media. One would expect this to be the moment when they make an impassioned plea for conservative principles.
So when Mitt Romney took the stage in Denver to debate President Obama, this should have been the moment when the former Governor made the conservative case for his agenda. Instead, Romney turned to Marx -- Groucho not Karl -- and adopted the "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes" approach to questions about his agenda.
Romney could not run fast enough from the details of his plan which all facts to the contrary suddenly did not (a) have a $5 trillion tax cut proposal; (b) which reduced taxes for the wealthiest; (c) raised taxes on the middle class; and (d) exploded the deficit. Nope, not his plan, we must be thinking of some other guy running for President.
In debating health care with the President, this was not the moment when he planted the flag for free market solutions but rather he claimed to have a plan that competed with Obamacare and even covered preexisting conditions (which his staff later conceded was untrue).
This was nothing new, as George W. Bush took the same tact when debating Al Gore in 2000, contending that his tax plan primarily benefited lower brackets and assuring voters that that he would use half of the surplus towards Social Security. This could not have been farther from the truth.
As President, Bush continued this same pattern, leading a number of bloggers such as myself to catalog with astonishment the hundreds of lies emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue. As John Dean would explain in his book "Worse than Watergate", the Bush administration had elevated mendacity to public policy with all major initiatives cloaked in deception.
After his reelection Bush tried to "cash in" the political capital he believed he had accumulated to achieve a longtime conservative dream -- privatizing Social Security. Once the proposal was subject to the cold sun of public scrutiny, the major policy initiative of Bush's second term died a quick death despite a nationwide campaign by the President.