Political Animal


August 08, 2012 9:49 AM The Big Dog Speaks

By Ed Kilgore

Mitt Romney’s campaign probably made a tactical error in displaying Bill Clinton’s image in its highly mendacious and deeply divisive new ad on welfare policy that suggests, among other fabrications, that the Obama administration is somehow abolishing the central “work” focus of the 1996 welfare reform act Clinton signed. As I thought might happen, the Big Dog is speaking out against the lies in a statement (per Politico’s Maggie Haberman):

Governor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true.
The act emerged after years of experiments at the state level, including my work as Governor of Arkansas beginning in 1980. When I became President, I granted waivers from the old law to 44 states to implement welfare to work strategies before welfare reform passed.

After the law was enacted, every state was required to design a plan to move people into the workforce, along with more funds to help pay for training, childcare and transportation. As a result, millions of people moved from welfare to work.

The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment. The Administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained and that waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach. The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act will not be waived.
The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether. We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.

How did the Romney campaign’s response to this rather categorical rejection of the ad’s claims? It just repeated them. I swear, trying to engage these people in any sort of reasoned discourse is like looking into the eyes of a goat: nothing there but the determination to keep on keeping on, truth be damned. Team Mitt has a lot riding on this latest effort to tar (racial allusion intended) the president with the “welfare” meme, which unsubtly links repeated GOP claims that Obama is a wild-eyed socialist “redistributor of wealth” to the least popular and most racially explosive programmatic element of the New Deal/Great Society legacy. The welfare ad is going to be in heavy rotation according to Romney campaign sources, and no number of refutations of its central claims (by Clinton or by “fact-checkers” like PolitiFact, which quickly gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” designation) will stop them.

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.


  • castanea on August 08, 2012 10:08 AM:

    We have passed the point in American politics at which the lunatics have managed to create their own reality.

    Is it any wonder that the sort of person who believes that humans and dinosaurs frolicked together five thousand years ago because that is what their religious leaders tell them also believe the political lies they are fed by the same leaders?

    Largely, America is crumbling because a critical number of Christians under the evangelical banner believe they are going to spend their lives in heavenly bliss and that the rest of us are going to burn in hell. Some of them merely accept that as fact, while others revel in it.

    That sort of attitude is not conducive to a healthy democracy.

  • boatboy_srq on August 08, 2012 10:08 AM:

    Shorter Romney: TABMITWH. 'Nuff said.

    Captcha: arknven 1854-1900. I suppose that is where Romney's campaign intends to take us.

  • Ron Byers on August 08, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Why don't the networks and television stations tell Romney they aren't going to run the ads? They are demonstrably lies. There is nothing requiring any newsmedia to publish outright lies.

    Oh, I forget, we can all moan about Citizen's United, but we can't talk at all about the responsiblity of the people taking all the Koch money for the political mess we are in.

  • BillFromPA on August 08, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Relying on PolitiFact or the like to set the record straight is a waste of time, they're too caught up in the 'both sides do it', hair-splitting mentality and they'er a second tier source of information for the general public. Our side needs to get face time with the MSM and start using the 'L' word, and I don't mean Liberal. These are flat out lies, and since the repug chairman, or whatever his title is, has called Reid a dirty liar, that seal has been broken. Euphemisms such as 'untrue'and not accurate don't cut it. Gore was branded as a 'serial exagerator', and it stuck. Romney is a serial liar and needs to be labeled as such.

  • Just Guesing on August 08, 2012 10:23 AM:

    Are there even any Mormons out there now that believe Mitt's habitual lying is portraying their religion in a positive way? He wont talk about his religion perhaps because he is actually so far removed from its teachings or he's following their teachings where lying to get ahead is acceptable.

    Either way it certainly isn't promoting any good image of Mormonism.

  • Josef K on August 08, 2012 10:24 AM:

    The GOP must have realized how liberating throwing off political and social convention was back in 1998 when they managed to initiate that absurd impeachment against Clinton. They haven't slowed in the slightest since then, and the only measures I can conceive that would permanently stop them are things that no sane, moral being would actually contemplate (never mind advocate) putting into effect.

    Probably why the GOP keeps getting away with this. The rest of us (rightly) aren't as willing to damn their souls to stop them.

    Still, having Clinton speak out on this, long and loud and often, can only help. Given what a low profile and great distance Bush jr. is keeping, the contrasts between campaigns gets starker every day.

  • T2 on August 08, 2012 10:25 AM:

    I've been reading some interesting Mormon stuff lately on Kos, some of which explains the stream of lies coming from Mitt Romney. It seems that lying to achieve an end favorable to the LDS Church is actually approved of. And it seems that Mitt Romney has been groomed his entire life to become a LDS Leader -above question from those below him. Being a serial liar is actually part of his faith.
    No wonder Romney wants the LDS kept out of the campaign.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 08, 2012 10:26 AM:

    The Dems need to get ads with Clinton up in all swing states where Clinton simply says:


    and America deserves better" while the same is displayed in bold black and white across the screen. Then Clinton goes on to repeat the statement he made yesterday.

    Media would have to cover it, and then the lies could begin to be enumerated ...

  • c u n d gulag on August 08, 2012 10:28 AM:

    Jayzoos H. Keerist in blackface!
    What's next?

    Never Ann Romney's Cadillacs - how long before they cut and paste a political ad with Michelle driving up to the White House in a big old Caddy, bringing home a bucket of KFC and some T-bones, and as she pulls up, we see President Obama sitting on the stoop with a Colt 45 in one hand, and a big ol' joint in the other?
    And the daughters sitting next to the President, picking lice out of one another's hair?

    Yes, I know that's an exageration.
    But, how much of one?

  • rick on August 08, 2012 10:29 AM:

    I watched CBS this morning and if you didnt know any better, and were half paying attention, youd swear Romney was telling the truth. They even showed the most deceptive part of President Clinton's response (last paragraph only. This is why Harry reid is a true American patriot, as his attempts to avert a national disaster (a Romney administration with republican control of Congress) is ethically questionable but morally responsible.

  • Kathryn on August 08, 2012 10:32 AM:

    Yet another reason to lay blame at the feet of John McCain. The descent into alternate universe begun by "we create our own reality" George W. Bush went into overdrive with the selection of the "Whore of babblin on" or that "satanic harpy"l credit to Cund Gulag and Anonymous, Sarah Palin. I agree, it way past time for beating around the bush with the lie word. This has gotten ridiculous. Btw, the columns in both New York Times and Washington Post present "both sides" but, for a change, the Post article is tougher than the Times. Glad Clinton came out quickly but that's not enough when you are dealing with stone cold liars like Romney and his campaign. Pinocchio's won't cut it.

  • Diane Rodriguez on August 08, 2012 10:33 AM:

    For Romney, its a very effective ad. It foments the age old "welfare queen" mentality and makes the perfect segway to President Obama who, in case you have forgotten, is BLACK. The term "welfare" has always been a lightening bolt for many working middle class whites.

    People with little are likely to see other people with limited resources as the most dangerous; interlopers who are bent on taking what little they have. It sets up a deadly dynamic that is the most useful tool for those with power and money. Especially in poor economic times, its hard to lift your head above the horizon to see beyond survival.

    Yesterday, NPR was interviewing some folks in Ohio (?)door to door. I get really discouraged to hear the complete lack of thinking skills of my countrymen.

  • jim filyaw on August 08, 2012 10:34 AM:

    obviously, someone on team romney didn't get the memo that bubba is still alive and kicking. the repubs have been arrogating jfk and harry for years, safe in the knowledge that there would be no denial from those democrat to the core presidents. typical, for this band of clowns.

  • T2 on August 08, 2012 10:55 AM:

    every Republican considers Clinton a lying scum-bag so no matter what he says...it doesn't matter to them. They only purpose he serves is to possibly get some of the people still mad because Hillary didn't win out to cast a vote for Obama. They can't afford to sit at home and pout like they did in 2010.

  • Marnie on August 08, 2012 10:55 AM:

    why is the tar of taring and feathering a racial slur these days.

  • berttheclock on August 08, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Was Mitt really the character standing behind Woody Allen waiting to buy movie tickets in "Annie Hall"? Was he trying to explain Marshall McLuhan to his date, Ann?

  • JM917 on August 08, 2012 11:09 AM:

    @ Just Guesing:

    Mormons are told by their church that it's OK to "lie for the Lord" when trying to win converts, to justify church doctrines and practices, or otherwise to gain advantages for the LDS--such as electing a Mormon president.

    Check out www.ex-mormon.org (a serious site maintained by former Mormons, designed to give prospective converts a fuller picture than they'll get from the missionaries) or google on "lying for the lord + Mormon."

    Willard's habitual prevarications would appear to pass the LDS ethics test. After all, it's all for the Lord's cause.

  • jsjiowa on August 08, 2012 11:58 AM:

    Romney is working this lie into his stump speech too - it's not just the ad: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/08/08/romney-tells-iowans-obama-removed-the-requirement-of-work-from-welfare/

    This man is just disgusting.

  • Mimikatz on August 08, 2012 12:00 PM:

    There was a long interview in the Daily Beast yesterday with the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young who left the LDS church and founded the exMormon organization mentioned in the comment above. Mormons, according to her, are taught to lie for the Lord and she sees Ronmeycare as having been groomed for years to be Pres. She also sees him as a classic entitled Mormon male. Her account of the subordination of women in the LDS church is scary. It is why she left at 55 and is speaking out now at 71. A Kos diary links to it but the whole piece is worth a read. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/07/exclusive-brigham-young-s-great-great-granddaughter-on-mormonism-and-mitt-romney.html

  • Texas Aggie on August 08, 2012 12:23 PM:

    PolitiFact gave Romney's ad a "Pants on Fire???" That in itself should tell you all you need to know. When those boys go after the right wing, the right wing is WAY out of line.

  • Texas Aggie on August 08, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Marnie, it isn't tarring and feathering that is the racial slur. It is the Tar Baby.

  • bluestatedon on August 08, 2012 12:47 PM:

    I'm with Bill from PA and Disgusted... it's time to stop using namby-pamby, pussy-footing language like "...especially disappointing..." and start using language that average voters will understand. If I were Obama's alleged brain trust, I would immediately launch a "Romney Lie of the Day" website that would be tied into Twitter and advertising. Everywhere that Obama and Biden appear, they should start their stump speech with "Romney's Lie of Today." Every Democrat at all levels of government should be completely familiar with "Romney Lie of the Day" and should use it constantly and repeatedly.

  • Joe Friday on August 08, 2012 1:19 PM:

    "The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada"

    This is what the White House needs to key in on. These waivers were requested by REPUBLICANS. Does Romney's disdain extend to his fellow Republicans or is this really about the fact that THERE'S A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE ?

  • Eric k on August 08, 2012 1:28 PM:

    Apparantly the Romney team's response to the Big Dog is to trot out Newt.

    Newt vs Clinton, that worked so well for the Reps the first time around...

  • mcc on August 08, 2012 1:48 PM:

    I don't even care if the attack is true or not. I'm more confused by the idea that in the middle of a recession, with ugly news about the amount of new jobs available every week, Romney decides to go on the attack demanding that people on welfare must get jobs. In order to do this, he must stop his persistent attack revolving around how there are no jobs available. What?

  • schtick on August 08, 2012 2:53 PM:

    Mitt the Twit doesn't have the wit to get into a war of words with Obama AND Clinton. They could outwit him without even hearing the question.

  • Bane of Bain on August 09, 2012 10:43 AM:

    We have 18 days left until Mitt Romney is crowned the head GOP great hope. At that time, the balance of evidence shall come forth. The REAL reasons he and Bain Capital are lying about when he resigned as CEO.

    In 2001, Bain Capital benefited from profuse federal frauds in the eToys federal case (DE Bankr 01-706). The lawyers have already confessed to 34 acts of lying under oath to conceal secret (illicit) relationships.

    Can Al Capone retroactively retire from his bad faith acts?

    Are we to believe Frank Nitti's claim that he wasn't there when the bad faith acts transpired?

    Especially when they are trying so hard to keep that particular case and time being reviewed?