UPDATE: Turns out that Romney may have been talking not about the change of address form the doctor had to file with the Post Office, but the one he had to file with Medicaid. But as Greg Sargent tells us, the form providers have to file with Medicaid to change their addresses is ... two pages long! More than a postcard, in other words, but a whole lot less than 33 pages. I think my point—that candidates shouldn't repeat any damn fool thing some random person tells them as though it were the truth, just because it accords with their ideology—stands.
In all the furor that gripped the country over Wawagate, I almost missed this tidbit from James Fallows, who despite being a national treasure and one of America's finest journalists is subjecting himself to the indignity of traveling with Mitt Romney's campaign. Apparently, on the stump yesterday Mitt described how "a doctor told him that he had to fill out a 33-page change-of-address form, several times, to get the post office to send his mail—including reimbursement checks—to his new location. That is what happens with government-run organizations where you have 'no competition.'"
Aargh. You want to talk disconnected? Forget the Wawa, this shows just how clueless Mitt Romney is, or perhaps just how stupid he thinks the rest of us are. Have you ever changed your address? You probably have. Did you have to fill out a 33-page form? Of course you didn't. The form to change your address is a friggin' postcard. Old address, new address, when you want the change to happen. Done. You can do it online now, and it'll take about 2 minutes. Yet Mitt Romney gets up in front of a crowd of people and tells them that government is so awful, at the Post Office you have to fill out a 33-page form to change your address.
The Postal Service has plenty of problems, almost all of which are caused by Congress requiring them to do all sorts of things that cost lots of money, like pre-paying their pension costs and delivering mail to rural areas. But to echo my buddy Tom Schaller, if the Romney campaign doesn't like the Post Office, maybe they ought to send all their mail via FedEx and see how they like it when a letter costs twenty bucks to send instead of 44 cents. There are some more details in this piece that I wrote two years ago, which is still relevant.
The fact that Romney can't make a case for the superiority of private enterprise over the Post Office without telling absurd lies about it ought to tell you something. This reminds me of nothing so much as that time Michele Bachmann went on television and said that a woman told her that her daughter got the HPV vaccine and "suffered mental retardation as a result." Everybody mocked Bachmann for that, so why isn't everyone doing the same thing to Romney?