The Onion, once again, gets the story right:
[Mitt Romney] credits his rejuvenated campaign to one, singular tactic: lying a lot....
Romney’s campaign advisers said that they adopted the strategy of lying a lot after realizing several things: (1) Lying sounds good, especially when the truth sounds bad, (2) the American media doesn’t care if you lie, (3) the American people don’t care if you lie, and (4) it’s okay to lie if you are very, very desperate to become the president of the United States.
(3) is historically related to (1); indeed, it's an old, national-family custom. We hate it like hell when the other guys lie, but we all know our guys lie, too, so in the end, a certain and perfectly reasonable amount of lying is regarded as acceptable--even necessary--mischief, since, after all, the other guys started it. Yo mama.
So (3) and (1) don't trouble much, not, anyway, as much as (2) and (4). (4) is of course predicated on (3) and (1), especially in Mitt Romney's case, and very especially in consideration of Mitt Romney's slutty base. They wouldn't know an honorable standard of political behavior if it descended radiantly from the milky clouds and promptly fed the world with five loaves of bread and two fish. They're incurably, hopelessly stupid, and that's all there is to that.
(4)'s most notorious perpetrator, though, has been reliably aided by (2). True, the media have been growing up as major and possibly influential fact-checkers in this presidential campaign, and my hopes for the media's responsible maturity were chugging right along--until last week's debate. Senselessly, impulsively, hyperactively the media screamed Romney won! before the following thoughts ever seemed to occur: Is it possible to legitimately win by lying one's ass off? Aren't we merely scoring this thing on style alone? Is a winning style more essential than winning the profoundly important stuff of a presidential debate? Wasn't Obama truthful and factual, while Romney mostly made things up? No doubt Obama should have stepped on Romney as the pestilential insect he is, but is superior dismissiveness of inferior vermin really disqualifying? Aren't these relevant factors to weigh before casting a judgment?
Later, the media seemed to agree. But first, they just couldn't help themselves. They acted as though monstrous lying was a matter of no real national concern in their professional care.