Way back in the ancient days of April I wrote about Mitt Romney’s interesting strategy of lying so early and so often that journalists and bloggers will just get tired of writing about how often he lies. Here’s what I said:
By the time September rolls around, the campaign will have overwhelmed all the actual journalists and basement bloggers with so many of these ridiculous statements that we will have stopped cataloging the mendacity.
It has been well established by now that I hate my brain, and that I have been rather diligent in subjecting it to regular doses of Mitt Romney over the course of this campaign. But even my cold heart is starting to thaw at the desperate pleas of my brain to just stop the pain. When Romney launched his latest attack on the president, yet another outright lie, I found the prospect of writing about it painful to contemplate.
Here’s the ad. Spoiler alert: it’s an outright lie.
But wait, I hear our conservative Disagreeables saying, is that really a lie? Sure, it’s hard-hitting, but politics ain’t beanbag, and perhaps the truth could be not quite as clear as you’re implying, Wiesman.
Um, no. It’s exactly that clear. This ad is a lie.
President Obama has not removed the work requirement for recipients of welfare. Some states have requested waivers to the federal requirements, but those waivers are only granted if the states can show that their programs are better at putting people back to work than the federal requirements. From the Washington Post, back in July:
The actual language is rather strict and rules out a number of potential waiver applications. For example, the memo states, “The Secretary will not use her authority to allow use of TANF funds to provide assistance to individuals or families subject to the TANF prohibitions on assistance.” Translation: people who aren’t on TANF because they didn’t meet the work requirements aren’t going to get bailed out here. Proposed waivers also must include concrete methods of evaluating performance, and set standards that the new programs must meet for the waiver to continue.
In fact, the governors who requested the waivers that were granted by the Obama administration were Republicans of Utah and Nevada. So, yeah, pretty clearly a lie. And a very specific kind of lie, designed to tap into class resentment over government benefits to The Poors that Republicans have been exploiting for 40+ years.
But wait. The lie gets worse. How could it get worse? Surely Mitt Romney couldn’t possibly have requested a waiver to the federal guidelines while he himself was governor, could he? Of course he did. This is what I’ve been trying to tell you. Romney is so shameless that he very nearly overwhelms my hated brain’s capacity to identify shamelessness.
I was able to force myself to write this post, but Romney’s strategy of just flooding the media with outright falsehoods is clearly working. They just don’t know how to deal with it. Because, as mentioned, I hate my brain, I was watching CNN this morning and the horrible awful talking head lady on that awful channel showed a pro-Obama Priorities USA ad that has been criticized, and then showed this latest Romney ad, as if “both sides do it.”
Here’s the Priorities USA ad:
First of all, CNN, comparing a SuperPac ad with an ad by Romney with the “I approved this message” tag on it is not quite equivalent. But even beyond that, even if both ads were produced, paid for, and approved by the respective candidates, the Romney ad is verifiably false. The CNN anchor herself said the pro-Obama ad was wrong because the woman died 5 years after leaving Bain, and that there were times in those 5 years when she had insurance. She then played the Romney ad. She didn’t call it wrong; instead, she said, “Bill Clinton has called this ad a lie.” Do you see what just happened there? The anchor makes a judgement call on an ad with no untrue statements (if the ad is misleading, it’s because of omitted information, not any outright false information), but then when talking about Romney’s ad with actual verifiably false statements, she says that a known partisan calls the ad a lie, not willing to say that it is factually wrong herself, and not explaining why Bill Clinton called the ad wrong.
The Romney campaign has found a brilliant side effect of the current media environment and they are exploiting it deliberately. The number one rule that cannot be violated in CNN’s universe is that both campaigns must be equal. If the Romney campaign does something extremely dishonest, in the CNN worldview, this must mean that the Obama campaign must also have done something extremely dishonest. Never mind that Romney himself approved the one message and President Obama did not. Never mind that the Romney ad contains actual false information and the pro-Obama ad instead has incomplete information. The only rule that applies in CNN-land is that both campaigns must be presented as equally complicit in misleading voters.
You may think I’m joking here. I’m not. As I wrote before, with a sluggish economy and networks like CNN that seem locked into a “both sides do it” mentality, Romney’s boldly dishonest strategy seems to be working. He might win this thing.