A chorus of unconvincing shock arose when Mitt Romney’s flack so blithely admitted that whatever bonkers positions he’s taken to appeal to the craziest of Republican primary voters could simply be shaken away like the scribbles on an Etch-A-Sketch, and general election voters would be none the wiser. Although Romney’s desperate and flailing rivals evidently cleaned out Toys-R-Us to capitalize on this supposed gaffe, in fact his statement is anything but controversial; from Karl Rove’s K Street money-laundering shops on down to the lowliest Mississippi trailer park, Republicans applaud lying, as long as it wins elections. And for them, anyway, the lying tends to pay off.

Promising one thing and delivering its diametric opposite has a long and hallowed tradition in Republican politics.