Timothy Noah

Santorum's Shake

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Rick Santorum today sent his ill-advised comment from yesterday--that the country would be better off with four more years of President Obama than with Mitt Romney--down the memory hole. Then he gaslighted reporters about it. Apparently those traditional values he's running on don't include truthfulness.

Here is what Santorum said yesterday in San Antonio, Tex.: 

You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future. 

Today in West Monroe, La., Santorum insisted that he never said voters would be better off with Obama than with Romney. The New York Times, in an excess of politeness, reported that Santorum "recalibrated" his previous remark by stating today, "When I said the other day that we need a real choice in this election, I’m for defeating Barack Obama, and I’m going to support whoever wins the Republican primary to defeat Barack Obama, that’s the No. 1 issue." But it seems to me that the real news is that Santorum lied when he scolded reporters for reporting honestly the stupid thing he said the day before. "I didn't say that," he told them. "You guys should do some reporting, instead of just reporting what Governor Romney feeds you." I'm not a Catholic, but I'm pretty sure that uttering a conscious lie and then impugning the integrity of anyone who disputes you is at least a venial sin. We secularists, meanwhile, will henceforth call such maneuvers a "shake" (as in "shaking the Etch A Sketch," though the term has fortuitous vulgar associations that will give it more sting than "pivot"). And man, is Santorum a-shakin' today.

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