Political Animal


July 26, 2012 11:56 AM Fact-Free Zone

By Ed Kilgore

The latest effort by conservatives to lie about what Barack Obama is saying doesn’t require much exegesis, and leaves virtually nothing to legitimate differences of opinion over interpretations of words or phrases. Take it away, Dave Weigel:

At this point, getting video clips of Obama from Republican campaigns is like getting an article pitch from Jayson Blair. It might tell a good story, but you need to run down the source and triple-check. Jim Geraghty points to our latest example, a rapid response video from the RNC that clips Obama’s speech from Oakland.
“Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan — and it worked. That’s the difference. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for a second term.”
Pretty stupid! As Geraghty points out, with a smorgasboard of links, the economy is still horrible three and a half years after Obama took office. But what was the rest of the quote?
“I’ll cut out government spending that’s not working, that we can’t afford, but I’m also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well. Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan — and it worked. That’s the difference. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for a second term.”
What are the chances? Another radical Obama quote that’s just a clipped version of something all Democrats believe. Obama wasn’t talking, at this moment, about his own economic record. He was arguing that the economy had grown and the deficit had shrunk when marginal tax rates were higher.

Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if by sundown conservatives were arguing that this Obama quote proves he’s taken the Democratic Party away from the centrist Clinton legacy. We’re entering a fact-free zone here that cannot be described simply as spin or distortion, much less a morally equivalent tit-for-tat response to Obama campaign tactics. As Weigel concludes:

[T]he truncated version of the Obama quote is insanely misleading. At best, it’ll only appear in $10.4 million or so of TV ads.
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • majun on July 26, 2012 12:12 PM:

    It is almost as though the entire GOP election campaign is being run by James O'Keefe.

  • June on July 26, 2012 12:12 PM:

    I've noticed a wishful-thinking talking point from conservatives that "Obama cannot run on his record." But the truth is, it's conservatives who can't run on Obama's record, so is it any wonder they've resorted to making one up? Obama can put his record of years of steady job growth against their "do-nothing-and-obstruct" antics any time.

  • Mimikatz on July 26, 2012 12:12 PM:

    If them's the rules, the Dems should start doing it too. Take some Romney statements out of context in an even more egregious way. Romney is bound to cry foul and demand an apology, which will make him look weak (Josh Marshall's bitch slap theory of politics). Then the press will have to say both of them do it, which will acknowledge that Romney does it, maybe they will even say Romney started it. Maybe that will equalize things somewhat.

  • c u n d gulag on July 26, 2012 12:14 PM:

    Well, in all honesty, what does anyone expect from Mitt Romney, when he needs to keep trying to prove his bona fides to the Conservative base?

    Just like words with more than two syllables confuse the living sh*t out of them, and three or more mark you as a elitist, they don't have the attention span, or the critical thinking skills, to handle anything more complex than a single, simple, declarative sentence.

    So here's why Mitt's doing this:
    Never confuse the stupid!

  • Hedda Peraz on July 26, 2012 12:20 PM:

    A tree fell in the forest, but everyone was at the beach, watching the Olympics on their tablets.

    And, come September, they will return home, collect the newspapers from behind the shrubbery, and proclaim, "Hey! It says here this is an election year! Son of a gun. I wonder who's running. . ."

  • howard on July 26, 2012 12:26 PM:

    it is impossible to run a 2-party democracy when one of the parties is stone cold insane.

  • T2 on July 26, 2012 12:33 PM:

    and then you have Romney saying he won't release his tax returns because the Democrats will twist and distort them into something they're not. I never realized how much of a liar and moral-free guy Romney is - somehow I thought Mormon's were,at least, not supposed to be liars. Sure got that wrong.

  • JM917 on July 26, 2012 12:34 PM:

    @ Mimikatz: I see your point and share your frustration, but Obama and the Dems should not follow Romney into the mud. No, I don't want to see Romney's vapid, stupid, and greedy words twisted and sliced/diced into still worse soundbytes. They're bad enough when flung back at him honestly.

    But I damn well DO wish that the Obama campaign would start using good four-letter Anglo-Saxon words like "liar" to hit back at Romney and his cohorts. No more of this damned tiptoeing around about "some folks say distorted things." (And why does Obama keep using that wishy-washy word "folks"?) Let's have some fire and brimstone calling out of the Repugs for what they are: greedy, lying, bastards with a nefarious plan for screwing our whole society and undermining our democracy (by, for example, suppressing voting rights).

    Maybe the Obama plan is to build up a crescendo of increasingly harsh counter-attacks, as well as to go on the offensive against the tsumami of propaganda that's only starting to belch forth from the Citizens United-empowered GOP war machine. Maybe that plan includes also attacking the corporate mainstream media for its complicity in tolerating (in the name of false equivalencies: see the current NY Times for a good example of "both-sides-are-going-negative") an unprecedented degree of Repug mendacity.

    But if the Obama campaign is going to go into an all-out war mode against Romney and the Teapugs, our own side's nose had better be damned clean.

    Give 'em hell, Barry!

    (And, as the original Harry later said, "I never gave anyone hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.")

  • Grumpy on July 26, 2012 12:34 PM:

    We’re entering a fact-free zone here that cannot be described simply as spin or distortion...

    Entering?? People said the same thing about the McCain campaign in 2008, astonished that he could get away with such blatant dishonesty. Either it's gotten worse in four years, or else it always seems this way with every election cycle.

  • anon on July 26, 2012 12:46 PM:


    I think they are channeling comedy.

  • Grumpy on July 26, 2012 1:09 PM:

  • Anonymous on July 26, 2012 1:42 PM:


    I wonder what the effect on the election would be if, during the final debate, Obama would turn to Romney after one of his egregious lies and say "Mitt, you know that's a lie. Why do you keep using it?"

    It won't be hard to do because Mitt has nothing to run on except money, lies, and his Anglo-Saxon heritage. He will use lies in his debate, knowing that the media will not call him on it.

  • exlibra on July 26, 2012 2:16 PM:

    That's what happens when your personal library holds only two books -- "Atlas Shrugged" and "1984"

  • Robert Levine on July 26, 2012 2:16 PM:

    Any bets on how many out-of-context Romney quotes the Obama campaign has stored up and ready to roll? There's a reason this has been taboo in the past; it's a very dangerous can of worms to open up.

  • exlibra on July 26, 2012 2:24 PM:

    The subject doesn't have to be Obama, for them to lie-by-video; apparently, the R-money campaign takes delight in splicing under other circumstances as well. Here's another example:

  • jjm on July 26, 2012 2:42 PM:

    This Romney method, which was pioneered by fascists in the 20s and 30s and 40s, really should not be emulated by the Obama campaign, except perhaps as a hilarious spoof showing Romney's misrepresentations of the president.

  • pol on July 26, 2012 2:46 PM:

    T2 --
    "I never realized how much of a liar and moral-free guy Romney is - somehow I thought Mormon's were,at least, not supposed to be liars. Sure got that wrong."

    A commenter on Kevin Drum's blog this morning posted a link to this... Seems to say that Mormons believe it's ok to lie if it's for their religion.


    Kinda explains it all, if you also believe that the American presidency should be a theocratic position, as Mormons supposedly do, according to Salon.


  • T2 on July 26, 2012 3:02 PM:

    @pol, thanks for that informative info on the LDS. It is tidbits like the one you link to that makes it imperative Romney keep the Mormon thingy far, far in the background. Even in this day and age, the average citizen only has a hazy idea of Mormon-ism (or his Faith as Mitt obliquely refers to it). They have a big choir in a big church, sometimes have several wives (as did Mitt's Grandpa), live in Utah....yada, yada. But it's a lot more than that and much of it would turn off a large segment of voters for either party.
    I'm not demonizing Mormons, just saying they are out of the mainstream on many things - they lying thing being one of them.

  • JM917 on July 26, 2012 3:18 PM:

    @ Anonymous:

    I really am hoping that Obama does use the word "liar" (or something similarly unvarnished) in his debates with Romney. That is, assuming that there really are going to be debates. I'm more than half expecting that the Romney camp will find a host of reasons to weasel out of the debates. Deep down, Willard must be frightened of having to go up against Obama, mano a mano.

    Fantasy: Wouldn't it be something if Obama were to say, "Mitt, are you 'lying for the Lord' when you say that? Is this an example of what you Mormons call giving the American people 'milk before meat'?"

    Nah, that would be "too negative." But do check out the links that "Pol" gives above. Or Google on "Ex-Mormon."

  • TCinLA on July 26, 2012 3:34 PM:

    If Mormons weren't liars, T2, how did they create their alternate-reality science fiction religion?

    As to facts, the Republicans are PROUD that they do not resort to facts, since it is well known that "facts" have a "liberal bias."

  • Rick B on July 26, 2012 7:24 PM:


    Thanks for those links.

    I've read that when Mitt was governor of Massachusetts he was also the Mormon Bishop of that state. What your links suggest is that Mitt feels he is God's anointed U.S. President (the Salon article) and that his training and indoctrination as a Mormon missionary is that he does not admit to the facts of his religion while he is acting as a missionary.

    The fact that he feels he is ordained by God to be President explains a lot. His motivation has never been clear and I've read a lot of speculation. This is the best reason I have seen. He is a direct descendant of one of the 12 Mormon apostles.

    His willingness to lie completely is also clear. That's how he was trained as a missionary, and I have long used the Mormon missionary years as a key example of religious brainwashing. It fits the clearest definition of that.

    Mitt does not need to be prepared to be President because he already knows that God has appointed him to the job.

    That's frankly quite scary.

  • Doug on July 26, 2012 7:37 PM:

    As I posted before, the Democrats have no need to "splice and dice" anything Romney has said. ANY Democrat, running for ANY office, merely needs to produce a political ad that, in 30 seconds, compares what the Republican said and what was REALLY said. Nothing else.
    There could, of course, be some resistance. After all, even political advisers, consultants and "image" creators have to eat, too...

  • mk on July 27, 2012 8:18 PM:

    "If them's the rules, the Dems should start doing it too."

    They should put "In the style of Mitt Romney" on the screen as it airs.