Dueling ads: Liar in Chief vs the Unfeeling Technobot

posted at 8:41 am on July 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Thank goodness we have the ability to have a reasoned, rational debate over the direction this country will take in the next four years, so that voters can make an informed choice in November.  The campaigns and their super-PAC surrogates have an opportunity to inform us about the real differences in policy between the two candidates, and to treat voters like adults capable of self-government.

Or, er …. not:

Priorities USA Action and the Service Employees International Union are out with a new round of Spanish-language ads attacking former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with his own (out of context) words in Latino-heavy swing states.

The Colorado ad highlights Romney’s comment that he’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” with a man adding in Spanish, “He’s a person without feelings who doesn’t care about people whether they be Hispanic, Latino, white, who are below him.”

This basically doubles down on a one-sixteenth truth, not even a half-truth.  True, Romney did say that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor, but the very next words out of his mouth in that interview were, “We have a safety net,”  and he pledged to repair any holes in it.  Romney told the interviewer that his focus was on the middle class and fixing the economy so that they could prosper once again.  I noted at the time that Obama and his team would replay this clip out of context over and over again; this is just the beginning.  That doesn’t make it any more honest, however.

How about the other side?  Mitt Romney has an advantage in being able to focus on Obama’s policy record, but … instead, he’s focused on Obama’s campaign record.  To be fair, though, while it’s tone is hardly any better, Romney has the right to respond to spurious attacks from Obama:

Just like he did against Hillary Clinton, President Obama now continues to spread dishonest attacks about Mitt Romney to distract from his failed record. Even though fact check after fact check have found his claims to be false, he continues to not tell the truth to the American people. It is no wonder why our country has lost confidence in his leadership.

Team Romney obviously aims for the Hillary Clinton voters who have grown disenchanted with Obama in this ad, but any of them still nursing resentment over 2008 probably aren’t voting for Obama this time around, anyway.  Hillary will almost certainly be campaigning for Obama in the general election, so Romney’s defense of her honor here is going to get negated at some point in time.

Both of these ads are effective to a certain extent, although both essentially just reinforce perceptions within the candidates’ voter bases more than convince anyone to switch their vote.  The extent to which people perceive one better than the other almost certainly speaks to their choice in the race.  Normally, though, we wouldn’t see this kind of personal attack until the final days of the campaign.  It’s a symptom of the moment-to-moment cycle that we’re getting these kinds of ads running in July for a general election in November.

John Dickerson says the fact-checking doesn’t much matter anyway, and I suspect he’s correct:

This is further confirmation of an essential truth both campaigns have embraced about fact checking: The upside from a strong distortion is better than the downside from the hall monitors. If you’re not getting four Pinocchios or a pants-on-fire, you’re not doing it right. Let them boo—as long as the message gets through.

Ain’t politics grand?

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