Such a lonely word

Such a lonely word August 20, 2012

Jamelle Bouie: “Why Romney keeps lying about Obama and welfare”

It’s been three weeks since Mitt Romney first took fire for asserting that the Obama administration “gutted” work requirements in welfare. When the first ad was released, PolitiFact took the lead in debunking its claim that under Obama’s plan, “they just send you your welfare check,” giving it the highest rating of “Pants on Fire.” followed suit, and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler offered a similar denunciation, giving the ad “four Pinnochios.”

But this didn’t deter the Romney campaign. The following week, they released another ad using a similar message. Independent observers again hit Romney’s dishonesty, and a key Republican architect of welfare reform said that “there’s no plausible scenario under which [the change] really constitutes a serious attack on welfare reform.”

… It’s almost certain that Team Romney has heard these complaints, and just doesn’t care about them. Not only has Romney made this a key part of his stump speech — promising to “return work to welfare” — but this morning, he released yet another ad making the same claims.

Alec MacGillis: “The Welfare Card and the Post-Truth Campaign”

One of the more depressing parts of the job of being a political reporter is watching an audience fully absorb a blatant and knowing lie. Which is, of course, what this is. Countless factcheckers — here is one of many — have unequivocally rejected the assertion that Obama has ended the work requirement. His administration has instead granted more leeway to states, including several with Republican governors, to explore new ways to get people onto welfare into jobs, with the proviso that their new approaches must increase the share of recipients with jobs.

But this has not stopped Romney (the son of a pro-safety net former HUD secretary!) or Paul Ryan, who is also using the line on the trail. Meanwhile, the campaign has launched two ads with the welfare charge, which are running in heavy circulation. Clearly, the campaign has reason to believe the attack is working, and why not? It’s no secret that working-class Americans deeply resent those just below them on the economic ladder whom they see as getting undeserved assistance; it’s also no secret that politicians have been especially effective at stoking this resentment among white working-class voters, such as the all-white audience in Beallsville, toward an unseen nonwhite other.

Ezra Klein: “The worst case against the Obama administration”

But [Niall] Ferguson says he wasn’t confused. Rather, he phrased his original comments very carefully in order to deceive his readers. You see, Ferguson specified that he was only talking about the “insurance-coverage provisions,” and so, if you happen to be an employee of the Congressional Budget Office and you’re aware of the difference between these reports, you would’ve understood that when Ferguson wrote —

 The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.

— that the first sentence and the second sentence had nothing to do with each other. Of course, most people are not employees of the CBO, and so they just got tricked. In the pages of Newsweek. Bummer for them.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Dishonesty Is the Seventh Killer App”

Dishonesty of this sort is insidious. It can’t be dismissed with the ease of plagiarism or manufactured evidence. As long you’re not egregious, you can actually make a career as respectable public intellectual, and occasionally lie. No one will stop you. Almost no one cares.

Bryan Bender and Brian MacQuarrie: “Ryan sought stimulus funds while decrying program”

In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. Ryan was railing against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as a “wasteful spending spree,” he wrote at least four letters to Obama’s secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by the Globe.

“… their project will allow residents and businesses in the partner cities to reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs,” Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on December 18, 2009, on behalf of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation.

Kevin Spak: “Ryan: I Asked for Stimulus Money by Accident”

Paul Ryan has repeatedly denied that he requested funds for Wisconsin businesses from Barack Obama’s signature stimulus bill, despite documented evidence to the contrary. Yesterday he finally admitted he had — but said he hadn’t realized he was doing it. Ryan’s stimulating ways first came to light in a 2010 Wall Street Journal report. In an interview at the time, Ryan said he wouldn’t vote against something “then write to the government to ask them to send us money.”

But the Boston Globe reported this week that Ryan did just that, sending at least four letters to the Department of Energy on behalf of two Wisconsin companies looking to develop “green jobs.” Ryan again denied those reports yesterday, before finally backtracking …

(On Ryan’s repeated false denials, see also Steve Benen, Rebecca Schoenkopf & Philip Bump.)

Adam Kotsko: “Romney’s nihilism”

There’s something deeply disturbing about this infamous video where Romney seems genuinely offended that his Democratic opponent would accuse him of being less than 100 percent pro-choice.

Steve Benen: “Breaking new ground in Chutzpah Politics”

What’s remarkable is just how spectacularly dishonest Romney is. It’s like he heard about an award that goes to the lyingest liar who ever lied in the history of liars, and Romney’s so eager to win the award that he’s becoming a parody of himself.

Reality is actually quite simple. Republicans argue that Medicare savings are necessary for the health of the program, and Obama found such savings, without touching Medicare benefits, and while strengthening the financial health of the system. The savings are so sensible, they’re part of Paul Ryan’s Republican budget plan — which Romney has endorsed.

Jay Rosen: “Everything That’s Wrong with Political Journalism in One Washington Post Item”

Fight for what is true. That is how I would put the alternative to “first, show you’re savvy.” From this point of view, it is a regrettable loss for the polity, and for political journalism – and for the voters, the public – when dubious claims gain traction and quotes pulled from their context appear to “work.” What the press can do to prevent this is try to raise the costs of making false or misleading claims, which is the whole point of fact-checking.

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  • My mom, you mean? No, she’s not a politician, she’s a retired office worker living in Florida.

    As I said to Magic_cracker earlier, I’m not really interested here in telling other people how they ought to express themselves.

    I mean, I would certainly agree that “Republican politicians never tell the truth” would be read as a personal insult by fewer people than “Republicans never tell the truth.” And it would be closer to literally true, if only by virtue of being literally false about fewer people.

    But all that’s kind of obvious; it would be incredibly presumptuous of me to assume that anyone needs me to tell them that.

    That said, I would feel less obliged to make myself a target by pointing it out were it a statement about politicians… mostly because, rightly or wrongly, I don’t care too much about the personal feelings of politicians.

  • vsm

    [blockquote]Assuming that that cliff is avoided then we can hopefully get to work on
    making things better instead of stopping them from getting worse.[/blockquote]
    If you’ll be so gracious as to let a foreigner complain about your politics: Is that day ever going to come? There’s an election every two years, and the Republicans will always be worse than the Democrats. Meanwhile, American politics have been moving to the right since at least the seventies and don’t seem to be stopping. The Democrats have also shown themselves to be largely useless even when they control the presidency and both houses.

    Mind you, I have no idea what you should do, just that the current strategy seems kind of self-defeating.

  • To get better options at the top will take years.  Barack Obama rose to power incredibly quickly.  It took a mere 12 years from first elected office to Presidency.

    Even assuming that kind of lightning speed, a concerted effort to make things better now will take at least that long, more likely longer, before the markedly better presidential candidates start appearing.

    It will happen, if it does, from people who have a lot more energy than I have to offer (these days I’m mostly spent) working to create bottom up change.

    It will not happen because of presidential elections, it will happen because the people who worked their way up to the presidential level of politics are of a better caliber than the ones currently available to draw from.

    That said, once the election is over it is also possible to turn attention to the here and now and say, “Yes, Romney would have been worse, but that shit you’re pulling.  Fucking stop.”  With a lot more force than can be done when it’s necessary to amend the disclaimer, “But remember, Romney would be worse, so vote Obama anyway.”

  • vsm

    Is it really a question of having good people as candidates? I don’t think Obama is a particularly bad person, for instance. He’s certainly better than Richard Nixon, whose reign famously resulted in a lot of left-wing legislation being passed.

    As for pressuring Obama after the election, wasn’t that the plan the last time? It didn’t quite pan out, as I recall. And won’t you have to break out a similar disclaimer in preparation for the next congressional election? After that, it’s only two years until the next presidential election when the GOP nominates Lord Voldemort, so you shouldn’t criticize Obama too loudly before that either.

  • Xian-x

    Regarding the Jamelle Bouie article.

    Romney accuses Obama of treating welfare recipients with compassion and decency–as though that would be a bad thing. Obama’s supporters respond not by challenging the premise that it’s bad to treat welfare recipients with compassion and decency, but by pointing out that Romney is lying, that–in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in modern history–Obama is allowing states to impose even harsher conditions on welfare recipients than previous administrations have.

    Now, as many people here have already pointed out, there is good reason to think Romney will be worse than Obama, but several months ago Fred employed the notion of “deal-breakers” — policies or positions that are so reprehensible that a politician endorsing them should never be supported under any scenario. Fred was referring to the racist screeds issued by Ron Paul, which make it impossible to support Paul even though he has an acceptable record on some civil liberties issues. Similar to Fred’s use of the phrase “deal-breakers” John Cusack uses the phrase “Rubicon lines.” There are certain policies or positions that constitute “Rubicon lines” for Cusack, and if a politician crosses those lines, then Cusack will have a hard time supporting that politician even if the alternative is arguably worse.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Oh, we CARE.  We just don’t think anyone who can get elected would be any improvement.

  • The_L1985

    Not just that we want to be mothers, but that we all want to be mothers right now. I want kids, but not immediately!