Mitt may not remember me but I remember him like it was yesterday. I’ve been married nearly 25 years now, but if you’ve ever been intimately involved with a pathological liar, it’s an experience you never forget. The eight months I spent with my own fabulist were so traumatic that I came to think of all liars as one and the same person. Pathological, chronic, habitual, compulsive—whatever, they all have the same uncanny ability to stir the pot, creating dissention and drama wherever they go. My teeth start grinding in fear (compulsively!) whenever I even consider the idea of Mitt in the Big House.
My personal Mitt felt compelled to tell you whatever you wanted to hear. You could forgive him when he said harmless stuff like, “I can’t imagine why he ever called you Thunder Thighs, sweetie, he just doesn’t understand the pleasures of a juicy woman.” In fact, I still pay good money for lies like that. It was the other kind of crazy, nonsensical lying, which often deposited me at the center of pointless maelstroms. It would start out innocently enough, like the time I overheard him on the phone chatting excitedly with someone about having landed a role on a soap opera. After he hung up, I asked him why he’d said that since he had not even auditioned for that particular soap.
“Well, the job is as good as mine,” he said, accusingly, his usually twinkling eyes now dead cold. “Joe said he’d spoken about me to his agent, who told him I sounded like the perfect replacement for Jake, that character who sleeps with all the women and makes them crazy.”
The person he was on the phone with turned around and called everyone to say that Mitt would be a rich man very soon; and that’s when the pone started ringing non-stop with loan requests. We were penniless at the time.
Can’t you just see Mitt saying to Vladimir Putin, “I just spoke to Hu Jintao (leader of the People’s Republic of China) and he told me he’s working on a speech in which he is going to renounce communism and embrace capitalism. So, really, you should consider getting the jump on him!” And later, as he explains to the press, “Jin specifically said that capitalism is a nice idea!”
Watching that first presidential debate, I couldn’t stop thinking about my time with Mitt. No, I didn’t! That’s not true. You’re not entitled to your own facts, Mr. President. The striking thing about pathological liars is this: they think everyone else lies, too! This almost makes sense for Mitt because all politicians do lie at one point or another; it’s the habitual part that’s problematic. Obama can certainly be accused of reneging on or ignoring some of his campaign promises; but is he a habitual liar? I think not. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s what they lie about that really matters. Bill Clinton lied repeatedly about his sex life, but I’m giving him a pass on that one because as Robert Heinlein famously said, “Everyone lies about sex.”
The other really creepy thing about pathological liars is that, well, they’re creepy. Looking at them in action, you can’t tell whether they really believe what they’re saying or whether they take you for a total idiot, landing you in that Twilight Zone of repeated self-examination for not being able to figure it out.
Most people thought Mitt was fun! But being his girlfriend was tough. It was also disconcerting, frustrating, destabilizing and weird—just how you want to feel about the leader of the free world.
Remember Jon Lovitz as the Pathological Liar character on Saturday Night Live? The thing about Tommy Flanagan was how much he enjoyed telling one outrageous lie after another, each one building on the next. There was that loony gleam pouring from his eyes as he inwardly rejoiced in taking you for a fool. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket! The GOP ticket.