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Still creating their own reality

Here's a tip for politicians seeking major public offices: don't consider "grunt work" to be synonymous with "getting the facts straight."

In Ohio, state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) is running against incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in one of the year's most closely-watched U.S. Senate races, and the conservative Republican candidate is pushing the claim that Brown is responsible for a policy agenda that moves Ohio jobs to China.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has asked Mandel to back up the claim, and the Republican has so far struggled to provide any evidence. But as Greg Sargent noted today, the problem in this case is not just that the politician can't support one of his own claims, it's that Mandel doesn't even see the need to bother.

Consider his response in an interview last week when asked again to identify a single Ohio job that went to China because of a decisive vote by Brown. "If that's the level of specificity you're looking for, you're the reporters -- you go do the grunt work," said Mandel.

The Republican added that he considers the claim to be true -- even if he can't offer evidence, and even if reality points in another direction -- and vowed to repeat the attack "again and again" as the Senate race continues.

This comes up from time to time, but candidates aren't generally this brazen when it comes to deliberate deception. Usually, just for the sake of appearances, politicians at least pretend to care about honesty and substantiating their own rhetoric, but Mandel, perhaps borrowing a page from his party's likely presidential nominee, has decided to simply throw caution to the wind.

You want to know if his claims are true? Then it's up to you to do the "grunt work" -- just don't expect Mandel to care what you find out when you do.

I often think about Ron Suskind's 2004 piece on the Bush/Cheney White House, and the senior adviser to the president who said reporters were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' The Bush aide said at the time, ''That's not the way the world really works anymore.... [W]e create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

It's a sentiment that seems to have inspired a whole generation of Republican actors.