Thursday, February 9, 2012

Democrats stooping to tactics they used to complain about

The big headline on the Huffington Post screamed " Mitt Romney: I'm not concerned about the very poor".

The idea behind the headline seemed to be to make people think that Mitt Romney makes Uriah Heep and Ebeneezer Scrooge look like Little Sisters of the Poor. And it might have worked and been a valid criticism if  it had been true and accurately reflected what Romney said. It didn't.  But even former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan got into the act criticizing Romney's statement.  And so did the Weekly Standard who seemed to be criticizing Romney more for what they thought he meant and saying it out loud than meaning it. So it didn't take long for Democrats to take that snippet and make the kind of dishonest commercial they used to complain about ( and rightly so) when Republicans did it.

The problem is the media and Democrats know what Romney's entire sentence was,  but nevertheless decided to take it out of context to make political points with those who didnt hear the original statement.

Oh, I know Romney himself said he shouldn't have said it. But that's the expedient thing to do. Its faster and easier than pointing out the egregious misrepresentation. And as for the attack by the conservative Weekly Standard, that is more about conservatives worrying about winning and losing than worrying about the poor. So this isn't about Romney as much as it is about the kind of journalism and politics that poison the system. In this latest context, it doesn't matter what the candidate actually meant and what he said, this is about using the favorite political tool of choice known as the "na-na-na-na-na" tool.

In the DNC commercial Romney's statement about not being concerned about the very poor is cut so abruptly, Romney's next word is cut off in mid syllable lest anyone hear what came next.Or even knew that anything came next..

Cutting off Romney is mid-sentence is the kind of political TV commercial tactic that used to be the hallmark of Republicans and the kind of cheap political journalism that stoked the fires of Bill Clinton's impeachment (something Newt Gingrich had a singular hand in but brayed bitterly when he became the victim).

Distorted headlines and accusations bearing no resemblance to the truth or what someone is actually trying to say, a quote taken out of context or some tortured analogy having no relationship to reality and thinking they can fool people into believing it seems to be what current political strategists think will work.

What was particularly humorous about the media's distortion of Romney's remark was that CNN seemed unsure about exactly what to do with it. Instead they hedged their bets and instead of beating Romney up and accusing him of not caring about the poor, they called the remark a "potential gaffe".  So when does a potential gaffe actually fulfill its potential as a full blown gaffe? They didn't say. Or who it is that decides when a potential gaffe becomes a full fledged gaffe? That wasn't made clear either though usually its people like those at CNN who decide when a gaffe is a gaffe. But this time even they couldn't bring themselves to paint Romney as someone who said he didn't care about the poor. Though you can tell they thought about it.

The problem with the whole " I'm not concerned about the very poor" sentence is trying to make Romney sound like he was saying he didn't care about the poor which was very different from saying he wasn't "concerned". What he actually said for better or for worse, was that he wasn't concerned about the very poor because he believed there was already a safety net in place to help them and if there were problems with that he would fix it but he wanted to focus on the middle class who he felt had not been helped enough. Believe it or don't believe it,agree or take issue,  but that is what he actually said. But not what the Democrats and some in the media say he said.

Whether Romney does care about the poor ( and Republicans, especially rank and file voters have demonstrated at Republican debates that they don't) is something that could be debated and Romney forced to answer. But Democratic strategists seem to be so devoid of being able to think or come up with meaningful ideas or messages based on reality to win an argument or an election, that they are now resorting to the kind of trickery Republicans have used because they didnt have the facts on their side when over the long run, the Democrats do.

Of course Obama has undermined a lot of what the Democrats had going for them with his selling out of the Democrat and progressive agenda and his duplicity and dishonesty,not to mention a lack of any principle or conviction,  and it seems that Democratic strategists feel that they now have to stoop to Republican tactics to try and compensate to win an election. But it can also backfire on the Democrats best chance to re-take the House id people see through it because it will damage Democratic credibility.

Obama aside,  and as the 2010 election showed he will be a major albatross around the necks of congressional Democrats running for re-election), Democrats have had the upper hand on real ideas (even though Obama failed to implement them), and Republican failed ideology and policies proved to be catastrophic for the country since 2000. But, that seems not to be enough for those who cash a paycheck to come up with winning strategies for Democrats. So this election cycle could set a record for mud slinging.

But with Democrats having a pre-Obama track record of policies that actually worked, you would think they would try and make those political points especially to retake the House based on those merits.  But instead we are getting lies and distortions about Obama's opponents possibly in the hope of distracting people from Obama's failures. Again the danger is damaging the credibility of congressional Democrats running in the next election.

Unfortunately party officials seem not to  understand their dilemma, or are not taking it seriously, or don't know what to do about it so it's starting to come to this this -- the DNC and Democratic strategists  grasping at straws to try and give people a reason to vote against the Republican rather than for Obama even if the reason they are giving to vote against Obama's opponent happens to be untrue.

If Democrats want to challenge Romney's entire statement, they should do that. If they want to say that the programs in place for the poor are not adequate, that's fine too if they can show that. And if they want to try and prove that Romney has a track record that flies in the face of what he is saying, go to it if you can. But to take his sentence out of context and try and make it mean something other than what he was actually saying, is the kind of stupid "gotch'a" politics Ross Perot said was ruining the political system.

There was one other criticism of Romney that Democrats tried to make that's worth mentioning. It came from Romney saying,

"You know, if someone doesn't give me a good service that I need, I want to say, 'I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.'"

According to some Democrats and people in the news media this was a terrible thing to say and we saw headlines and talking points revolving around Romney saying, "I like to fire people".

Considering that Democrats in the House were fired by, not Republican but Democratic voters in 2010 for failing to provide the services they promised in the form of a public option, real financial reform and eliminating tax cuts for the upper 1% and given that journalists fail to provide the services people expect  from them every day, its no surprise that these two groups are having a hard time with the idea of people being fired for not providing the services people expect.

As a staunch liberal thinker, I also like to fire people who provide bad service and I do. I base most of my purchases of goods and services, especially electronics on how good the company who backs up these goods and services are with customer service. I have gotten rid of companies, services and products with bad customer service. And I have remained loyal to companies who have shown exemplary customer service. I have also gotten rid of people who were hired to do all kinds of jobs and provide all kinds of services that I didn't think were professional or up to snuff. And through it all  I still feel pretty liberal.

It's pretty sad that in trying and win a presidential election that Obama will likely lose precisely because he didn't provide what he promised even though he could have, there are Democratic strategists who think that a winning strategy is to defend people who aren't good at their jobs and don't deliver what they promise.I suppose if youre trying to defend Obama that's the only strategy you can use.

Some Democrats and some in the news media called Romney's remarks "regrettable". What's regrettable is that there are politicians and journalists in Washington who feel that in spite of not doing their jobs well  people should be able to keep those jobs anyway. Maybe it's because they identify.

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