However, Rachel Maddow missed the real story.
People with long memories remember that lying is characteristic of people who run for President. Ronald Reagan lied about having a $90 billion plan to cut government waste when he ran against Ford in 1976 and by 1984 he was confusing his real life with characters he played in movies. George H.W. Bush was a liar, too, although he preferred underlings to do his lying for him. Bill Clinton was notorious as a liar and only a primary loss prevented Hillary Clinton (I babysat for Mexican migrant farm workers!) from achieving the same reputation. George W. Bush was such a liar that David Corn wrote a whole thick book about his lies. Barack Obama told many lies, symbolized by his embrace of deregulating economists, predatory anti-American free trade, and the PATRIOT act. Guantanamo Bay, his first promise as president, remains open. Romney has boosted his own campaign by noting Santorum votes that don't match Santorum's political views.
For all that, Romney remains a worse liar because his lies are of a different nature. Romney lies to himself, so that he is always the hero or white knight in the story, regardless of what really happened. Second, his reflexive attitude to any challenge is to lie, even when it shows him in a worse light. Third, a lot of times, he lies because he knows he can: that he has power to lie and get away with it, and those challenging him do not. I call this the intimidation style, and it is this combination of somebody who rationalizes any behavior to himself as good; and someone who feels no need to win the approval of others, which marks Romney out as particularly dangerous. Remember, as president he would have the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world at his disposal, and unlike any other president in the nuclear age, Romney could easily justify using them over quite trivial provocations.
The intimidation style is something most white Americans have little experience with. Politicians, even the worst, pretend to desire their good opinion. For most, their first exposure was during George W. Bush's first term, when there was a kind of hysteria about patriotism and the war. The government's failure to even bother fabricating evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction after the invasion was the first time most people realized that the government actually enhanced its power by showing contempt for the feelings of the public on this issue. Comedian Lewis Black said it best, "Why did they stop lying? I could handle lying." Indeed, we could. It was not the lying that was so terrible, but the lack of remorse when caught. It highlighted how much power the president had, and how little ordinary Americans did.
Now we have a republican candidate who is wildly unpopular and knows it, and yet is almost certain to win the primaries anyway. He smirks when he denies something he knows they already have on tape. He laughs when he talks about knowing sports team owners when people question his sports loyalties to try to humanize him. It's all about keeping his distance from us, which enhances his image of power.
Anyone who challenges Mitt Romney will be vindictively pursued well beyond the bounds of reason.
He holds grudges forever and he intends to indulge them if elected. Mitt Romney is not about creating a false persona. He is about making us dislike him and ruling us with an iron fist anyway through the levers of power that we have lost control of.
To this end, it is well to look at the progress of the elections. In 2000 and 2004 George Bush usurped an office he was not elected to by various electoral schemes such as disenfranchising black voters, taking and throwing away voter registrations, making poor people wait 7 hours to vote, and so on. But behind it all were three private companies that were counting all the votes in his election: Sequoia Systems of Florida, run by republican ex-Unisys execs; Diebold Systems of Ohio, whose CEO was Bush's campaign chair in Ohio; and Election Systems and Software, previously owned by Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and part owned by all manner of Bush-connected families. Nobody could be sure that they were counting the votes correctly. When Sequoia was bought by a Venezuelan group, Republicans screamed bloody murder because some of those investors were connected to Hugo Chavez. Since that time the Republicans have been trying over and over to buy Sequoia back. Diebold was so damaged by publicity it changed its name to Premier Election Systems.
In 2012 the Republicans have upped their game. They have passed laws in dozens of states with onerous photo ID requirements, typically based on false claims of voter fraud - indeed almost no cases of forged identity voter fraud have been happening. They have increased their assault on voting records, purging people who just moved, and targeting minority neighborhoods as well as left action groups like ACORN that registered so many people in 2008. In every state with a caucus, Romney supporters have engaged in some procedural trickery. It's less about actually affecting the vote, almost, then about establishing a record of intimidation, of making people believe Romney will win no matter what.
In the last few years, in preparation for Mitt Romney's run, parts of all three major electronic voting companies changed hands. Election Systems and Software sold part of their operation to a Barcelona company partly owned by the Spanish government. That is the sort of thing to make liberals purr...except that Spain now has a conservative government, and this Barcelona Company is actually partnered with a venture capital firm from Boston (Romney's venture capital stomping grounds) called Nauta Capital, with one Dominic Endicott sitting on the board. Furthermore, they kept one of the Urosevich brothers as a sales rep. The ownership changed, but the people didn't. ES&S further invited Chuck Hagel back as a consultant in 2009 after he retired from the Senate.
Premier and Sequoia might have been caught up in the monopoly, but thanks to antitrust pressure from the Obama administration, they have been purchased by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada. Two Canadian programmers run Dominion. They met as employees of Israeli owned Xydex in Palo Alto, a chemical firm. Their CFO used to run GE Capital's office in Toronto and has a small company CastleHill which gives start up money to Ontario technology start ups. They use CT Corporation (of the Payless Shoe empire) as registered agent. Before these big purchases, Dominion was a small-time affair running its US office out of Jamestown, New York. Obviously, the money to buy Sequoia and Premier did not come from any of the sources publicly associated with small-time Dominion. Dominion has moved to Colorado, presumably to be closer to its backers. And maybe that's why Mitt Romney can't stop himself from insulting people with lies. The scariest possibility of all is not his attempts of puffing himself up. It is that he may really have some reason to believe himself untouchable.