"Friends," By Which He Means Not Really Friends

Via Andrew Sullivan, Fox News' Shepard Smith had some kind of weird brain event and burped out a bit of fascinating honesty upon reading Mitt Romney's statement on Newt Gingrich pulling out of the presidential race. We shouldn't treat Smith like a hero just for saying what a normal person might say upon reading this, although the fact that he works for Fox does make his implicit criticism of the Republican party's nominee a bit brave. Anyhow, let's watch:

Indeed, Shep, politics is weird and creepy, and lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality. Now I'm sure Mitt Romney didn't actually write that statement professing what great friends he is with Newt Gingrich, the guy who just spent the better part of a year calling him a despicable, dishonest, disreputable dirtbag. But let's say for the sake of argument that somebody on his staff showed it to him, and he took a quick look and said, "Yeah, that's fine." It's the kind of white lie that we accept—nobody who hears it believes that Mitt and Newt are actually friends, but we don't consider it morally problematic for Romney to have said it. It's a courtesy, a bit of politeness.

On the other hand, politicians, particularly those like Romney who struggle to convince voters that they're normal, everyday folks, could do themselves a favor and stop saying things that are so patently false, even small things. Why would it be so hard to say, "Newt ran a spirited campaign, I'm sure he'll be a strong voice for our party, and I wish him all the best"? That would be no less kind, and no one would notice the difference. But by trying to toss in something to humanize their relationship ("Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends"), he makes himself seem not human at all.

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