Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dishonesty in Romney Campaign Advertisement

It appears that honesty is not a virtue for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

He is airing his first anti-Obama advertisement in New Hampshire. In it we hear a voice clip of Obama saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose."

However, as MSNBC reports, this was selectively cut.

But that's only part of what Obama said. His entire line is: "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose.'"

(See: MSNBC, Democrats Say New Romney Ad Distorts Obama's Words)

And, in fact, here is a reference to a McCain aid saying just that.

[T]he McCain campaign has issued a new strategy: just don’t talk about the economy and instead attack Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) character — as a top McCain aide explained to the New York Daily News: “It’s a dangerous road, but we have no choice,” a top McCain strategist told the Daily News. “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose.”

(See Think Progress, Top McCain Aide: ‘If We Keep Talking About The Economic Crisis, We’re Going To Lose’)

The defense from Romney's camp is, "Isn't it ironic that Obama spent the 2008 campaign running against somebody afraid to talk about the economy, and now Obama is afraid to talk about the economy."

First, we should ask whether the claim that Obama is afraid to talk about the economy is true. As far as I can tell, he has talked about little else, trying to get some legislation that he claims will create jobs and improve the economy through a Congress that refuses to do anything at all.

It is something like being a carpenter, trying to build a house. A bunch if workers show up. They refuse to do any work – They refuse to let anybody on the premises who is willing to do work. Then they blame the foreman because no work was done on building the house, and claim that the these actions qualify them to be the new foreman.

Second, and more important for this essay, it is particularly ironic that, in an advertisement in which Romney talks about the moral obligation of the government not to spend more than it takes in, he forgets the moral obligation not to misrepresent the truth.

While we are on the subject of ironies here. I guarantee that Romney's first budget, if he were elected, will not be balanced. This implies either that even Romney holds that this moral requirement to balance the budget allows for exceptions. Either that, or it implies that Romney does not care that much about moral requirements.

I will add yet another irony. I have just spent a couple of days listening to a lecture on lying in which the primary focus was on former President Bill Clinton's claim, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski."

Some people presented a strong sense of outrage that the President had lied. "He is the President. We must hold him to a higher standard."

My question is: Does that standard apply to all Presidents, or only to Democrats?

The type of double standard this suggests is called 'hypocrisy'. So, now, we have dishonesty and hypocrisy wrapped up in the same moral package.

To the Romney campaign directly, somebody should ask, "If the Obama campaign were to quote you out of context in a similar way, would you defend him from Republicans who condemned that act, or would you join in the condemnation? And, I have a follow-up question after you answer that one, sir. My follow-up question: What is your view of the moral prescription to do unto others what you would have them do to you?"


Tracy said...

And people wonder why I say the President doesn't really matter. Why don't people understand that he is just a figurehead?

mojo.rhythm said...


I wanted to get your opinion on whether or not having a debt jubilee would be a good idea.

Topic for a future blog post, perhaps?

Austin Nedved said...

I hope this doesn't come across as condescending, but there is something I think that you and everyone else who writes about American politics needs to understand. Politics, as I'm sure you are already aware, is a terribly dirty sport. This much can be confirmed simply by tuning in to Fox News. But out of all of the lawlessness and dishonesty inherent to politics, no one, and I mean no one - not Fox News, not Rush, not Hannity, not Clinton, not anyone - can rival the incredible ability of Mitt Romney to lie.

It seems to me that Romney's ability to deceive can be attributed to the brazenness with which he does it. His incredibly successful strategy can be summarized as follows: if you're going to lie, go big. Make your contradictions of yourself so utterly clear that, when someone tries to point them out, people will think to themselves "it is simply not possible that someone could flip-flop so shamelessly. There must be some mistake."

Mr K said...

It bothers me that the US doesn't seem to have any legislation about the kind of political adverts that are run, so adverts which involve blatant mistruths get run. Sure, the opponent can correct the perception, but not everyone who saw the original advert will see the new one

Kristopher said...

mr k
we have laws against libel and false advertisement. but they are pretty weak, for good reason. it is safer to allow people to make false claims and allow other people to correct them then it is to make government the arbitrator of truth. (a position that begs to be misused) furthermore defamation laws in other coutries are often horrendously misused for political gain, to silence victims, and to destroy whistle-blowers.

in short Mr. k, while it isn't pretty, it's better than the alternative. it is our responsiblity to condemn these falshoods vehemently, so that they carry consequences and hopefully won't happen again. using the force of law for these types of problems would be disastrous.