The seven fat years, or the seven lean years?

Mitt Romney tells the Regent University commencement that France has instituted seven-year marriage contracts. The Washington Post reports the comment straight, rather than asking what Romney had been smoking.

With Pat Robertson looking on, Mitt Romney solemnly tells an audience at Regent University that France has instituted seven-year marriage contracts.

No, I’m not making this up. But yes, Orson Scott Card made up the seven-year marriage contracts, without attributing them to France.

MissLaura of Daily Kos seems to have been the first to notice this howler. (The WaPo reported it straight.) I picked it up from Ana Marie Cox.

Footnote As embarrassed as Romney should be, the Washington Post should be more embarrassed. Doesn’t saying something checkably &#8212 and hilariously &#8212 false count as gaffe? And shouldn’t Romney now be asked to explain his remark? If the Post won’t do it, everyone else should.

Wait! It gets better! Romney’s people are apparently putting the word out that he was referring to the pacte civil de solidarité , a form of civil union open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike under a law passed in 1999. But a PCS isn’t a marriage. Indeed, one of the events that terminates a PCS is the marriage of either party. And it doesn’t end after seven years.

So when Romney said that, in France, “marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up,” he meant that France allows non-marital, non-term-limited, civil unions.

I hope that’s clear.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: