Political Animal


August 20, 2012 9:16 AM Tripling Down on the Welfare Lie

By Ed Kilgore

I had naively thought that perhaps after two rounds of heavy advertisements advancing a race-baiting pack of lies about the Obama administration’s welfare policies, the Romney/Ryan campaign would pocket whatever advantage it had derived and move in a different direction before the mendacity of the attacks began to afflict even the consciences of cynical MSM political reports. But no: there’s a new ad, which dares defend its accuracy via (a) a completely empty editorial from the ever-partisan Richmond Times-Dispatch that in turn appears to rest its trust in the accuracy of the ads on (b) the opinion of Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus. Yes, it’s Mickey Kaus’ ultimate fantasy: being the indirect author of a multi-million dollar assault on his old enemies among social policy liberals.

If you actually go read the Kaus column that appears to have become via the Richmond papers Mitt Romney’s ex post facto justification for his ads, even Mickey admits that its central charges are “overstated and oversimplified.” His everybody’s-lying semi-defense of the ad is based purely and simply on Kaus’ judgment that the people in charge of welfare policy at HHS are known by Mickey to be enemies of the work requirement, and therefore in announcing an openness to waiver applications must have been moving towards an effort to overturn work requirements entirely. Mickey’s big aha moment—a line way, way down in the weeds of an HHS memo suggesting a possible pilot project allowing certain training programs to be counted temporarily as “work”—doesn’t provide much justification for an ad that explicitly says Obama has abolished any work or training requirement, and makes the new policy: “they just mail you your welfare check.” This is a blatant lie even if you buy Mickey Kaus’ omniscient old-ax-grinding knowledge of the inner evil intent of HHS bureaucrats.

Anyone authentically worried about the future of work-based welfare reform ought to be a bit more concerned about the Romney/Ryan ticket’s open and undisputed intent to deeply undermine all the “make work pay” supports that are essential to the success of reform, especially in a weak economy: the earned income tax credit, food stamps, Medicaid (and for many of the working poor, the Medicaid expansion provided for by the Affordable Care Act), and job training resources.

Ah, but why am I even wasting time arguing about this? The malignant heart of the Romney/Ryan campaign’s attack line isn’t any fact or piece of data, but simply the ad hominem assertion that of course Barack Obama wants to take your money and give it to those people without condition, because he’s one of them and that’s who he represents. And they’ll keep running these ads to the bitter end, particularly so long as they can count on a hackish editorial board and a “rogue” score-settling blogger to provide them a tiny shred of cover.

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.


  • stormskies on August 20, 2012 9:31 AM:

    Once again we need to remember that one of the reasons that the pathological liar called buffoon Romney lies is that his 'base' are utterly deluded humans whose entire 'reality' is defined by delusions and lies that they desperately need to 'believe' in in order to remain psychologically stable.

    To even admit that just one of their delusions is factually wrong is to unwind all of their delusions. then what ? So when confronted with actual facts the typical response of this deluded humans is 'well, I just don't believe it': the keyword being 'believe'.

    So of course the corporate automaton called Romney needs to reinforce those lies to have any chance to be elected. The automaton knows that he is lying, and does it anyway to the point of convincing himself that he is not lying.

    And so much of our corporate media enables these lies through the bullshit rationale that 'both sides do it'. In reality, this is an excuse that they use, purposefully use, to allows the lies to continue. It is in fact intentional on the part of a large part of the corporate media.

    David "I am not a used corporate condom" Gregory knows why General Electric pays him the millions that they do. And like any employee he does what he has been hired to do. And this is true for a vast amount of all those in the corporate media.

  • joanneinDenver on August 20, 2012 9:52 AM:

    Clinton should have called a press conference and denounced the ad and then made the press conference into an ad. That is the only thing that would have stopped the lie. Clinton didn't do it or else the Obama campaign, one of the worst in presidential history, did not think it necessary. I do not think that Hillary is gearing up for a run in 2016. She would be 71 and she looks absolutely exhausted, now.

    Romney lies very well. Or, he, at 66, is having short term memory problems.
    I don't care about his tax returns, I want to see his recent medical records.

  • Josef K on August 20, 2012 9:53 AM:

    I think this is more dangerous than any of us dare think. Yes its a godawful pack of lies, but its lies told to a not-wrapped-entirely-tightly sliver of the population who, if driven much further over the edge, might end up doing something about it.

    Is there any precedent for a Presidential nominee getting assassinated between a Party Convention and Election Day?

  • stevio on August 20, 2012 9:54 AM:

    Wolf Blitzer is aghast, besides himself. He'd dispel all the innuendo if only he didn't have to run to the bank to deposit his corporate welfare check.

    David Gregory will eventually meet his ilk in hell where they will enjoin in a group roasting over a spit...

  • Hedda Peraz on August 20, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Stay tuned for our next ad, containing this clip:


    (In a mere 4 seconds, Cleavon Little asks the question on every Welfare Buck's lips.)

  • Ron Byers on August 20, 2012 10:16 AM:

    This ad is better than most of Romney's ads. At least it has a shred of "support" from a captive Republican rag and a conservative blogger even if the ads conclusions are overstated and oversimplified. Most of Romney's ads are totally made up.

  • DIane Rodriguez on August 20, 2012 10:20 AM:

    Above the thunder of cloven hoofs on Sunday, Mayor Kasim Reed emerged as one of my new heroes while confronting the absurd notion that Ryan is a fiscal conservative. Driftglass has the clip from Meet the Press in yesterday's blog (Sunday Morning Comin' Down) http://driftglass.blogspot.com/

    Watch the entire thing- the good part comes at the end. Ted Cruz, the new Cuban congressman from Texas nearly had a stroke, Noonan was visiblly reaching for the bottle and Gregory couldn't speak.

  • delNorte on August 20, 2012 10:25 AM:

    "...which dares defend its accuracy via a completely empty editorial from the ever-partisan Richmond Times-Dispatch"

    Richmond, as in Richmond, Virginia, as in the Capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War?

    Doesn't that speak volumes about Romney's strategy, and who he's trying to appeal to?

  • James M on August 20, 2012 10:26 AM:

    @stormskies on August 20, 2012 9:31 AM:

    "To even admit that just one of their delusions is factually wrong is to unwind all of their delusions."

    Yep. Recently had a heated but rather enjoyable discussion with a very conservative friend of mine at my local watering hole. Enjoyable though the conversation was, it was also rather tiring because my friend questioned EVERYTHING I said!This happened to me with another conservative friend a few months ago.

    Recently it has occurred to me that this is a new tool in the conservative rhetorical kit: question everything any liberal/moderate says and deny the existence of any commonly known facts-even including ones that are easily proven. This has 2 advantages. First, it wears you down having to substantiate everything you say. Second, you might think, "Boy, if this guy is certain I might be the one who is wrong!".

    Fox New,talk radio and conservative web sites have provided right wingers a fully developed alternate universe: as rich and full as Tolkien's Middle Earth,and it will take a force greater than any I am currently aware of to bring them back 'real reality'.

  • stormskies on August 20, 2012 10:35 AM:

    Thanks for that link Diane Rodriguez: the 'reality' that was put in the face of Noonan, the used condom Gregory, and the creep from Texas is just priceless to watch. And it perfectly illustrates exactly what James M is saying....

  • JM917 on August 20, 2012 10:42 AM:

    @ Josef K: "Is there any precedent for a Presidential nominee getting assassinated between a Party Convention and Election Day?"

    Yes, although the assassination attempt failed. In 1912 Teddy Roosevelt, running on the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party ticket, was shot in the chest while making a campaign speech. His life was saved because the bullet was deflected by the steel eyeglass case and a thickly folded-up speech text in his jacket pocket. The would-be assassin was a mentally-challenged wingnut who had been stalking TR for years, thinking him guilty of McKinley's murder (because he'd had a dream in which McKinley made the accusation).

    TR's wound, which was more serious than was let on, seems to have had a role in undermining his health-- though other factors, including the effects of contracting malaria on his post-election expedition to Brazil his growing obesity and sky-high cholestorol, and a congenitally weak heart--were also implicated in his realatively early death at 60 in 1919. At the time of his death, he was widely assumed to be the Republicans' top prospect for the nomination in 1920.

    I agree completely with you about the clear-and-present danger to our republican and democratic (small-r, small-d) future in the light of what the American voting public and the mass media may well be ready to find acceptable.

  • James M on August 20, 2012 10:45 AM:

    DIane Rodriguez on August 20, 2012 10:20 AM:

    "... Mayor Kasim Reed emerged as one of my new heroes while confronting the absurd notion that Ryan is a fiscal conservative.

    ...Watch the entire thing- the good part comes at the end. Ted Cruz, the new Cuban congressman from Texas nearly had a stroke, Noonan was visiblly reaching for the bottle and Gregory couldn't speak."

    Diane, I just watched it. You are right. This guy is good!

  • Mimikatz on August 20, 2012 10:52 AM:

    The real evil here is that welfare-for-work requirements depend on there actually, you know, being jobs out there, and the reluctance to hire because of flagging demand because the financial industry destroyed the economy is the real root of our problems, Under Clinton we had much higher employment because we had more demand because we had less income inequality. Now the .1% has destroyed the golden goose of consumer purchasing power and we are headed to the servant economy.

  • SadOldVet on August 20, 2012 12:13 PM:


    You over complicate the Ryan/RMoney advertising strategy. Their advertising strategy is to repeat over and over again "n!gger, n!gger, n!gger - the n!gger is robbing you white tax payers to give your money to the n!ggers".

  • bdop4 on August 20, 2012 1:38 PM:

    The Obama campaign needs to borrow the Daily Show/Colbert writing team and mock the shit out of these ads, using past statements from these clowns. Obama needs to let the GOP know that he hasn't even begun to get started on them.

  • jjm on August 20, 2012 2:30 PM:

    To @JoanneinDenver: "Obama campaign, one of the worst in presidential history ..."

    Sorry, but Obama got out firstest with the mostest: when no one in the GOP was expecting it, team Obama got on Romney's case re Bain, re taxes, re his lies.

    The GOP strategy was clearly going to be that the very first thing you heard from Romney would be these Swift Boat lies. But Obama prevented that from happening in the way the GOP had wanted it to.

    Now they look only like they are trying to distract the public from Romney's really horrendous policies, past and present, not simply wiping the floor with the president by using his strengths against him as they clearly had wanted to do.

    That's why Romney whined so much about Obama making personal attacks (he attacked Bain, of course, but I guess Romney identifies himself with that particular corporate 'person'). He wanted to be able to frame Obama as a weakling, put in on the defensive etc.

    I believe he failed. They trying to start this blather up again, but sorry, it won't work.

  • Doug on August 20, 2012 4:08 PM:

    But, but, it worked for St. Ronnie!