Aug 09 2012

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Obama’s Deplorable Ads

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Testing New Lows

Not so long ago, it was the GOP that held the title as the cut-throat purveyor of the most sinister attack ads.

In 1988, the Bush campaign and its non-aligned surrogates (akin to today’s super PACs) were lambasted by the media and left wing pundits for telling the story of Willie Horton.

Horton was a felon sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a brutal murder, but who was inexplicably made eligible for a weekend furlough program expanded by Democratic nominee Governor Michael Dukakis. While out on furlough, Horton terrorized a Maryland couple, sexually assaulting the woman and pistol whipping her fiance. Caught by police, Horton was sentenced to an additional 85 years in Maryland.

Despite the Horton tragedy, the furlough program remained in effect until April 1988, more than a year after Horton’s rampage.  Governor Dukakis continued to argue that the program was 99 percent effective; yet, as the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune pointed out, no state outside of Massachusetts, nor any federal program, would grant a furlough to a prisoner serving life without parole.

Using just the facts of the furlough program, taken from public records, and for using the the picture of Horton in one non-Bush campaign ad (Horton was a very imposing African American) the Bush campaign was accused of everything from gutter politics to abject racism.

The same outrage accompanied the political ads associated with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. The group, made up of former Swift Boat personnel who either served in the Swift boat service in Vietnam, or who served directly with John Kerry in 1968-69, sought to correct John Kerry’s public statements regarding his service, and to call attention to Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War positions after leaving the service.

The ads had a devastating impact on Kerry’s credibility as they used Kerry’s own words against official military records to point out flagrant inaccuracies and unseemly self-promotion by Kerry. This time, the media and outraged left wing pundits called upon the Bush (43) campaign to disavow the ads which were said to impugn the patriotism of an American who faithfully served his country. Indeed, the ads so infuriated the left that they led to a new political verb – “swift-boating” by which a candidate creates doubt about an opponent by questioning their character.

Yet, as hard hitting as the Swift Boat ads were, they had their basis on the factual accounts of the people who were actually there – on the ground –  and on official military documents available, which could be compared with Kerry’s personal testimonials. To the extent that documents were unavailable, it was by virtue of Kerry’s unwillingness to make them public.  Despite this, the Swift Boat ads stand for many as a most egregious type of politics of personal destruction; a product of the Republican smear machine that dated back to ’88.

But as it turns out, America hadn’t seen anything yet. And it is now the Democrats and their allies who are testing new lows.

Since June, the Obama campaign and their surrogates have released a stream of political ads and statements that are jaw dropping not simply for their content, but most importantly, for their veracity. Over and over again, Team Obama and its allies are simply lying – there is no other adequate word to describe it – despite the fact that multiple, independent fact-checkers have found the Democratic ads and charges to be false.

In June, Team Obama accused Romney of being a “corporate raider” who shipped jobs to China and Mexico. An “Out-Sourcer in Chief.” Reviewing the record, Factcheck.org stated, “We find no evidence to support the claim that Romney – while he was running Bain Capital – shipped jobs overseas.” Yet, that has not stopped Team Obama from continuing to make the claim over and over again.

Indeed, Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter has suggested that Mitt Romney could be guilty of a felony regarding SEC filings by Bain Capital after Romney took a leave of absence to run the Olympics in 1999. Both the Washington Post and Factcheck.org have said there is no evidence to support these claims.

In addition, Factcheck.org has gone after Team Obama – twice – for misrepresenting Mitt Romney’s position on abortion to state that Romney favors the end of all abortions; a position at odds with the officials record going back to 2002.

But all of these misrepresentations pales in comparison to the latest ad released by Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports President Obama.

The ad text:

Joe Soptic in Priorities USA ad: I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to people’s lives by closing the plant. I don’t think he realizes that people’s lives completely changed.

When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care, and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that my wife became ill.

I don’t know how long she was sick, and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew that we couldn’t afford the insurance. And then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia. And that’s when they found the cancer, and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her.

And she passed away in 22 days.

I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a powerful ad and a thorough rebuke to Mitt Romney.  The problem is that the selected facts paint an alternate reality that simply isn’t true.

When the plant closed, Romney wasn’t running Bain but rather running the 2002 Winter Olympics.  Soptic’s wife, Ranae, didn’t lose coverage when the plant closed. Mr. Soptic told CNN  that she lost her own employer-sponsored coverage a year or two later. Indeed, Mrs. Soptic did not die until 2006— five years after the plant closed and at a time when Mitt Romney was running for governor.

The ad is egregious enough on its selected use of facts, but to link Mrs. Soptic’s death to Mitt Romney is contemptible and well beneath the dignity of any organization purporting to support the President of the United States.  The Obama campaign’s refusal to disavow the ad, even as Mr. Soptic served directly in a conference call for the Obama campaign earlier this year, only serves to further damage the credibility of the President and his surrogates in pursuit of victory in November.

Is there no bottom?

It appears that we are still testing.

Team Romney had barely had time to rebut the Soptic ad when various left wing outlets began parroting a story that Bain Capital’s start up financing came from Central American families linked to “death squads” from the 1980s.

This is simply as deplorable as it is shocking – a campaign apparatus that simply hurls insults, and illusions at such a rate that it is impossible for Team Romney to rebut all the charges before some falsehood sticks in the public imagination.

This is what Hope and Change has morphed into.  From the empty optimism of 2008, we now have the vapid cynicism of 2012.

We can do better.

Indeed, we deserve better.

Take note and vote accordingly in November.




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