You Keep Using Those Words. I Do Not Think They Mean What You Say They Mean.

The entire “you didn’t build that” issue is premised on deliberately pulling Obama’s words out of context and insisting that they mean something they don’t.  Now the Romney team is doubling down, in effect Photoshopping the video to reiterate their misrepresentation.  What are we to make of a presidential campaign built entirely around lies?

I don’t suppose there’s any point in noting this, but the Romney campaign just released a new Web video that again deceptively edits Obama’s “didn’t build that” speech to completely change its meaning.

The video again features a business owner who was angered by Obama’s remarks. But the audio of Obama’s speech is edited to fuse two disparate parts into one, cutting out key lines in order to make it sound as if Obama said business owners didn’t build their businesses. Crucially, the reworked audio conceals the fact that an edit was made.

Here’s how Obama’s speech sounds, as represented by the Romney video (the point at which the deceptive edit occurs is marked by the words “edit here”):

If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. [Edit here.] If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

The audio is made to sound as if that was one continuous passage (it is customary in such videos to include a visual cue signaling an edit; this doesn’t). Here are the words that were removed (in bold):

Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

I’m going to engage Romney’s defenders one more time on this. They claim that the full speech was worse than the decontextualized “didn’t build that” comment, and that he plainly demeaned success. But the Romney campaign is not just claiming that Obama demeaned success — it is also making the very specific charge that Obama claimed business owners didn’t build their businesses.

That’s why the Romney video quotes the business owner saying the following: “President Obama said that if I own a business, I didn’t necessarily build it. That was a very insulting remark to make.” Even if Obama demeaned success, he still didn’t say what this business owner says he did.

The Romney camp doesn’t think the general claim that Obama demeaned success is enough; they also need this specific claim, too, in order to inflict maximum damage. And the only way to make that specific claim is to lie about and distort what Obama actually said, with deceptive editing like this. Worse, the video conceals that an edit was even made. Even those who insist Obama’s full speech did demean success should be able to cop to this specific ongoing distortion — this specific lie. It is not a small lie; this specific lie has been central to Romney campaign events, statements, and videos for weeks now.

Paul Krugman’s question continues to remain relevant: “Has there ever been a candidacy this cynical?”