I realize that this is America, and that the Constitution has been interpreted to allow the most scurrilous kinds of personal attacks, especially against “public figures.” But the courts retain a shred of protection for the reputation of American citizens who dare to venture into public life: If the attacker knows the allegations are false and makes them with “actual malice,” libel is usually found to have been committed.
Clearly Mitt Romney knowingly launched a false attack on the president. And clearly the attack was launched with “actual malice.”
Obama should sue.
The case would attract a lot of media attention and the president would have a credible forum in which to clear his name.
I am no longer surprised when Romney fiddles with the facts. In one breath he will claim to hold two or three mutually conflicting positions on an issue, and he smilingly reels off the most preposterous stories. Obviously, he believes American voters are so naive that he can say anything and get away with it.
Some of Romney’s stories were reviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night. My favorites include the whopper about seeing his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the tear jerker about a relative who had a tragic backroom abortion, convincing him that women should be allowed to have legal abortions.
The pro-choice yarn was trotted out when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, a notoriously liberal state. Now, of course, he is totally against any and all abortions, and even wants to ban birth control.
But even for Romney, the attack on the president is a stunner.
He brazenly libels Obama in an ad that flat-out calls the president a liar. This commercial falsely states that President Obama lied when he said that Romney was a pioneer in shipping American jobs abroad. According to the Romney campaign, the Republican candidate quit Bain Capital before that firm started outsourcing.
But, as O’Donnell reported, the Boston Globe checked the facts and found that Romney was listed on corporate documents as Bain’s president, CEO and sole stockholder while the outsourcing was going on – despite Romney’s statement to the SEC that he quit three years earlier. Mother Jones magazine followed with an article revealing that Bain was involved in sending American jobs abroad even before Romney claims he quit the venture capital firm.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign – both in the primaries and the general election – has established a new low in American politics. The way I see it, people like him should be barred from any kind of public office. The thought that he could possibly be elected America’s president leaves me in shock.