Knowing their marks
I'm not sure why we should be shocked by these Romney operatives taking credit for a dishonest campaign ad since operatives do it all the time, but I guess it's just the arrogant openness about their rank dishonesty that makes it remarkable:
The offending moment comes when Obama says "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." That was a quote from a way-too-honest McCain adviser that Obama loved to repeat on the trail. By evening, the ad had been attacked, derided, parodied, and ruled "pants on fire" worthy by Politifact. The Romney campaign could have cared less.
Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, an RNC committee member and longtime operative, simply said that the ad "worked."
"They always squeal the most when you hold a mirror up to them," he said, "and they overreacted, clearly. All they did was make the ad more effective."
What about the tough response from Politifact?
"Do you know how many times they did that to Barack Obama in 2008?" he said. "Quite a few. And that's utterly absurd. Did he say this? Yes. Did we say he said it in a certain context? No."
There you go. But why should they care? This exchange on the Washington Post chat on Monday with reporter Paul Kane explains perfectly why these political operatives have no worries about telling the truth:
Q. (IM)MORAL EQUIVALENCE
Paul, I'm guessing you won't be sympathetic to the following point, but I'll put it out there anyway. Most reporting on the supercommittee--like most reporting on the deficit--reflects an acceptance of a basic fallacy. Whenever there is an impasse, there seems to be a desire to blame both sides equally, on the theory that if only Democrats would concede more, Republicans would reciprocate (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). Yes, Democrats have drawn lines in the sand, but as Greg Sargent and other commentators have documented, when you compare the specifics, there is no factual basis for blaming both parties equally. So my question is, why does the Post's coverage do so anyway, either explicitly or implicitly?
– November 21, 2011 11:48 AM
A. PAUL KANE:
Yeah, you're right. I think this point is just absurd and ridiculous. This is a big thing among folks calling it "moral equivalence" (Fallows, Ornstein) and others calling it the "cult of balance" (Krugman).
It's just stupid. If you want someone to tell you that Republicans stink, read opinion pages. Read blogs. Also, the underlying sentiment on the left is that this is the real reason why things went wrong in 2010: That the mainstream media is to blame. Sorry, I think that's the sorta head-in-sand outlook that leads to longer term problems for a movement.
Greg is a fine writer. He's an opinion writer, in the opinion section of the web site. I encourage you to keep reading him. And I encourage you to keep reading the news coverage, which should always strive to present both sides of the story. If you really don't want to hear anything about the other side of the story, I really do encourage you to stop reading the news section.
– November 21, 2011 11:58 AM
He's right about one thing. You should stop reading anything this reporter writes because clearly it is completely worthless. He is simply not interested in the truth and gets angry when anyone calls him on it --- even to the point that he dispenses unwanted advice about "the movement" as if that has anything to do with it. Indeed, his defensiveness is most telling --- clearly, he knows on some level that he's bullshitting his readers.
Those Romney operatives aren't fools and they know they can get away with lying as long as the press decides they can get away with it. Whether it's because they want Romney to be the nominee or because it fits with their narrative about Obama or some combination of the two, they are very likely to let this pass or even allow it to become part of the CW, thus kicking in Cokie's Law, which says "it doesn't matter if it's true or not, it's out there." Fact checking only matters if the press wants it to matter.
This lie may or may not become conventional wisdom, but whatever happens it won't be a result of the news media doing its job and getting to the truth. It will be because it fits their story line.