Way back in November 2008, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that bore the headline: "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." At the time, the economy was crashing and the Bush White House was considering a multi-billion dollar bailout of the auto industry to prevent its collapse and the resulting wholesale economic devastation. Romney argued against the bailout, pushing instead for a "managed bankruptcy" for the troubled automakers, which he referred to collectively as "Detroit."
Four years later, Romney was the Republican presidential candidate, and that op-ed became the subject of repeated attacks from Barack Obama, who supported the auto bailout and wanted to remind voters that the automobile industry had been saved by timely government intervention. "We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way," Obama said at the time, also referring to the automobile industry by its well-known nickname, "Detroit."
Jump forward to the present day, and the city of Detroit (not the automobile industry both Romney and Obama referred to as "Detroit," which has flourished) is declaring bankruptcy. It's an unfortunate state of affairs for a great American city. What's also unfortunate is how many conservatives are using Detroit's bankruptcy to claim that Mitt Romney was right and Obama broke his promise when he said he "refused to let Detroit go bankrupt" -- knowingly and deliberately confusing "Detroit" as it refers to the auto industry with Detroit the city.
Here's the Washington Times' December 4 editorial on the Detroit bankruptcy, which claims that Romney's 2008 op-ed pushed for a managed bankruptcy for the city of Detroit:
Another day and another of President Obama's campaign boasts bites the dust. While out on the hustings last year, Mr. Obama pummeled Mitt Romney for writing a 2008 op-ed column in The New York Times titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
The Republican nominee sensibly argued that bankruptcy would force the city to go through a drastic -- and necessary -- restructuring of its finances. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, boasted, "We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers ... and that bet is paying off." Until Tuesday.
That's complete garbage. Romney's op-ed was entirely devoted to the dire consequences he warned would result "[i]f General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for" and his call for a managed bankruptcy for the automakers, not the city of Detroit, as "the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs."
And the Washington Times knows this is garbage. They published a bunch of articles in 2012 chronicling Obama's and Romney's squabbling on the issue, like this one from October 16: "Mr. Obama told voters to judge him by actions such as the auto industry, which he boosted by expanding the government bailout begun under President George W. Bush. He said Mr. Romney, a former businessman, would have let General Motors Co. and Chrysler LLC go bankrupt, which would have cost more than 1 million jobs."
The Washington Times editorial was aggregated by Fox Nation, which also suffered from selective amnesia regarding the meaning of "Detroit." Glenn Beck's news website The Blaze noted that "Detroit is moving forward with bankruptcy" and contrasted that news with Obama campaign statements from 2012 on not letting Detroit go bankrupt. "Regrettable rhetoric, anyone?" asked The Blaze, knowing that they're lying to score a cheap political hit.
To all this you have to add in the fact that during the 2012 campaign, the Romney campaign and the conservative media tried mightily to push responsibility for the "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" headline -- and the political trouble it caused -- off onto the New York Times. So in 2012 they were arguing that Romney didn't really say "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," but in 2013 he's prescient and on-point?
You can't chalk this up to ignorance or incompetence. They know they're lying. They just don't care.