The Washington Post's Insult Artist, Part 1: Dana Milbank on Romney's Immigration Views

By Stanley Renshon on April 30, 2012

The Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank clearly prides himself on what he feels are his snarky, funny, smart forays, but they are mostly mounted against conservative straw men. Are his opinions snarky? Yes. Are they smart? Maybe. Are they funny? Only if you find misrepresentation amusing.

His latest: "Romney won't be able to shake immigration debate" relies on a grab bag of questionable associations, topped off with what can only be described as an intentional caricature.

The premise of the piece is that Mitt Romney is "trying to erase impressions left during this year's primary contest" about his stands on illegal immigration. This assertion comes complete with a now hackneyed reference to Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom's remark about the difference between a primary and general election.

Fehrnstrom said, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again."

The actual news report was honest enough to note that "Fehrnstrom's statement left some room for interpretation as to whether he was referring to the dynamics of the campaign or rather to Romney's positions on the issues. If it's the latter, the analogy could be a problematic one for Romney, who won a double-digit victory over Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday but has struggled to overcome the perception that he has shifted his issue positions with the changing political winds." 

Guess which one Milbank picked? Having few discernable news scruples and quoting himself (of course), Milbank implied that the remark was made to explain "why the fight for conservative primary voters has not pushed Romney too far to the right."

You get the point. Romney not only has no core, but no principles since he believes you can wipe the slate clean by clinching a nomination and then doing an immigration back peddle. Romney must also, according to this meme, think that voters are stupid, since it implies that he thinks they will actually forget his positions, or not be reminded of them by his opponents. 

Actually, Romney has been extremely consistent in his views on illegal immigration and much else that is of importance to those who support the continuing distinction between legal and illegal immigration. He also supports steps to ensure that new legal immigrants become integrated into the American national community. But those are entries for another day, coming soon. 

Mr. Romney got off comparatively easily, however, compared to Milbank's treatment of Russell Pearce, the former president of the Arizona Senate. 

Mr. Milbank falsely smeared Mr. Romney for having no discernable principles, while Mr. Pearce was smeared for having them. 

Next: The Washington Post's Insult Artist, Part 2: Dana Milbank on Russell Pearce's Immigration Views