An Excellent Summation of the Romney Campaign to Date

Frequent OTB commenter mattb points to a piece in The American Conservative by Noah MIllan entitled An Infantilizing Speech which contains the following summation:

But, quite plainly, Mitt Romney has no intention of saying anything that his audience doesn’t want to hear, and what he thinks his audience wants to hear is that America is great, and the only reason everything isn’t hunky dory is that we are led by a man who doesn’t understand that America is great. So believe in Mitt Romney, who believes in America, and trust that he will do the right things to steer America toward brighter shores.

That’s the whole speech, and it’s the whole campaign. It’s really that infantilizing.

While I wouldn’t necessarily use the word “infantilizing,” I take his point.  Beyond that, though, this is exactly my reaction to the campaign to date:  Plan? We don’t need no stinkin’ plan!

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. This, I would submit, is true of every politician.

  2. @Doug Mataconis: I would disagree. While clearly every politician claims that they are better suited for the job than the guy in office (as, for example, does every applicant for a job assert they they are better than the other applicants), some politicians actually have plans and stuff.

    Would you hire an associate to your law firm just because she said she is great and will bring in a boatload of clients without her saying why or how?

  3. anjin-san says:

    Wow, both sides do it?

  4. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Of course not. But then, people who make business decision are generally more likely to base their choices on rational factors than voters are.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    When you wish upon a star
    Makes no difference who you are
    Anything your heart desires
    Will come to you

    If your heart is in your dream
    No request is too extreme
    When you wish upon a star
    As dreamers do

    I’ll go with infantilizing. Do both sides do it? To some extent. I recall Mondale trying to speak the truth. Reagan beat the pants off of him promising magic economics and thus the eternal debt, and the eternal Republican delusion of Cake and Eat It Too was born.

    You want to know where this current mess started? It started right there, with Mondale telling the truth and Reagan talking nonsense. Trickle down, Laffer Curves, Shining Cities on the Hill. Lies and fairytales work. The most religious polity in the western world believes lies and fairytales. Huge surprise.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course not. But then, people who make business decision are generally more likely to base their choices on rational factors than voters are.

    I think they think they do, but I don’t think they do. I think business people are as credulous as anyone. What you’re looking at are the business survivors — the ones who made it. You’re not looking at the far more numerous businesses that failed.

    It’s like when people look at evolution and announce that it’s all God’s plan because look how beautiful butterflies are, without noticing the billions of species that went extinct along the way.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    But then, people who make business decision are generally more likely to base their choices on rational factors than voters are.

    Indeed…just ask poor and lower middle-class white people who vote for Republicans over and over again…

  8. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also, my broader point is that the absolute arrogance of the statement you quote is pretty much true of everyone who runs for political office.

    Remember, it was Barack Obama who campaigned on “Hope” and “Change” and spoke of his election as the moment when the “rise of the oceans” was halted. What utter hogwash.

  9. @Doug Mataconis: Yes, but there is a difference between “I am better for the job, and here’s why” versus “I am better for the job because, well, I’m me.”

  10. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Is there? There are a number of factors that decide an election.

    And, four years ago, Obama basically won on the “I’m better for the job because, well, I’m me” argument

  11. @Doug Mataconis: Yes, there are a lot of factors that go into why an election turns out as it does. However, that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the quality of a given campaign and my position is that Romney is not offering much in the way of an alternative.

    If you are submitting that the Obama campaign was one of the Generic Democrat in 2008 the way Romney is running a Generic Republican campaign in 2012, I would state that you are incorrect.

    In all honesty, I am more than a bit perplexed as to why you are so intent to defend Romney’s campaign. Do you really think that he is doing a good job?

  12. An Interested Party says:

    In all honesty, I am more than a bit perplexed as to why you are so intent to defend Romney’s campaign.

    Indeed, this is quite curious as Doug continuously and loudly proclaims himself to be a libertarian who will absolutely not vote for Romney…

  13. @Steven L. Taylor:

    No I am suggesting that Obama’s 2008 campaign was shoveling the same kind of political horse droppings that Romney’s is. It’s all bullshit.

  14. @Doug Mataconis:

    No I am suggesting that Obama’s 2008 campaign was shoveling the same kind of political horse droppings that Romney’s is. It’s all bullshit.

    Perhaps.

    However, that does not address my point. There is, without a doubt, a great deal of BS in any campaign for office. However, you position appears to be that all campaign are identical. I find this to be an inaccurate assessment.

  15. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes, that is my point. Our political culture, our politics, is pretty much inherently dysfunctional as far as I’m concerned, regardless of the partisan motivations of particular political actors.

  16. @Steven L. Taylor:

    In all honesty, I am more than a bit perplexed as to why you are so intent to defend Romney’s campaign.

    I am not defending it, I am merely observing that it is acting not differently than any other political campaign would in our era regardless of party. And, as I’ve noted before, Obama’s campaign, its surrogates, and its SuperPAC supporters aren’t any better.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    Along with this post, here’s an excellent summation of the GOP convention…

    In Mitt Romney’s breathtakingly edited version of the recent past, Republicans secretly rejoiced at Obama’s election, while only reluctantly coming to the conclusion that his policies had wrecked the economy. Yet history tells us that four years ago the American financial system was hanging over the abyss by the thread of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that a Republican administration and secretary of the Treasury had put in place—and for which the hypocritical deficit chickenhawk Paul Ryan had voted, even as he strained every muscle to get his district’s share of the stimulus package that he now denounces Obama for perpetrating. And recall also that the whole near-terminal calamity was caused by the unregulated derivative market whose freedom to destroy what’s left of the American economy the likes of Ryan and Romney cannot wait to reinstate.

    Then there were all those stirring stories of bootstrap self-improvement, the upward mobility of the hard-working immigrant, the opportunities seized by the disadvantaged—they were precisely a product of the New Deal America that Franklin Roosevelt instituted, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson consolidated, and the Republican administrations of Dwight Eisenhower (not a snowball’s chance of winning a primary these days) and Richard Nixon never dreamed of repudiating. The America of the G.I. Bill, of a college education that didn’t require an enslavement to debt, of a consensus that the poor might actually be entitled to some form of medical assistance from the Leviathan Government—the America, in short, that the Republicans cannot wait to abolish—was the social foundation on which the parents and grandparents of the Christies and Rubios and Haleys could rise up and prosper.

    Yeah, I know, ancient history. Who needs it? Ryan, who has the gall to pose as the champion of hard truths while cynically perpetrating one deception after another (see Janesville plant, date of closing; failure to mention his own vote against Simpson-Bowles; etc.), said “it doesn’t matter how we got here.” (That’s no doubt in part because of his record of voting in favor of tax and spending policies that helped to run up our current deficit.) The sometime pro-choice, sometime individual-mandate-supporting, sometime climate-change-believing Romney would love his piece of Massachusetts history to go away. The disease of American politics is to confuse personal history with political history, public-relations campaigns with true debate. The result is politics as placebo and a fake history that is one part humbug and the other part hoodwink.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    I do not believe for one moment that Romney wants to get into the details of his plan to begin the privatization of Medicare, while cutting taxes for the wealthiest American, increasing defense spending and running deficit as wide as the ones we have now for the next 10 years. It – except for privatizing Medicare – sound like a reprise of the Bush years.

    This all about “trust me, I’m not the mysterious guy with the photo-shopped birth certificate.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Actually, as I recall, Mr. Obama promised to reform health care. We have the ACA.

    He promised to get us out of Iraq while Mr. McCain promised to keep us in. We’re out.

    He promised to keep the financial system from imploding. Done.

    He promised to carry the war to Al Qaeda and get OBL. Done.

    So, actually, he promised some specific things, many of which he’s done. He promised some other things the GOP has blocked for political gain. And he promised some things that he never really tried to do.

    So far, Mitt Romney has promised to not be Barack Obama. That seems to be it. Oh, and of course, cut his own taxes, but that’s a given.

    Sorry, but this is not a case of ‘both sides do it.’

  20. @Doug Mataconis:

    Heh, when you remove everything else Romney might have done, then his campaign resembles the lowest common denominator of other campaigns, yes.

  21. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No I am suggesting that Obama’s 2008 campaign was shoveling the same kind of political horse droppings that Romney’s is. It’s all bullshit.

    Is Gary Johnson, the candidate you are going to vote for, shoveling bullshit too?
    If not, why are you so quiet about him?
    If he’s not shoveling bullshit, or if he’s, in your view, shoveling less bullshit than Romney and Obama, wouldn’t you want more people to vote for him?
    You have an opportunity to sell us the candidate you’re voting for, but instead you prefer to keep repeating that both major candidates, in your view, are just the same…

  22. @PJ:

    I’d be happy to hear more about Gary Johnson in these pages.

    Does he have the best budget, Doug?

  23. PJ says:

    Maybe this is the reason for the silence about Johnson:

    People have talked about Johnson as an election spoiler, theorizing endlessly about from which camp he’ll draw most heavily and in which states. That’s a conversation he hopes they keep on having. It’s good publicity after all, and though he served two terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico, he has no qualms about taking votes away from the GOP. “I long to be a spoiler in this race,” he said.

    And in the end, maybe this is what’s going to happen:

    Though it’s been framed as a betrayal of the elder Paul and of his libertarian grassroots values, the reality is many self-identified libertarians will vote fiscally — that is, for Romney — rather than risk throwing away their vote on a third-party candidate.

    But seriously, it seems like Huffington Post is writing more about Gary Johnson than OTB is…. And the Huffington Post is almost not writing about him at all.

  24. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @PJ: @michael reynolds: @Steven L. Taylor: Doug’s preferred role in this debate (or lack thereof, in this case) seems to be “the American Diogenes”–trudging his lantern through the blogosphere declaring “when I come upon a true public servant in politics, the lantern will light.”

    Apparently, his silence on Gary Johnson shows that the lamp doesn’t light up for him, either.

  25. Herb says:

    My theory on the absence of Gary Johnson, despite Doug’s support:

    Despite being the LP nominee this year, Gary Johnson has actually been a Republican for his entire career. He even tried to run for the GOP nomination, till they said “Do not want.”

    Admit you like Johnson, you have to admit you’re basically a Republican. Libertarians fear “admitting they’re basically a Republican” more than they fear the nanny state.

  26. Rick Almeida says:

    Doug’s political insights and preferences are pretty thin stuff, it seems to me. Campaigns are “bullshit”. Women’s issues are “unimportant”. He’s no Republican, but the Democrats are just as bad or worse. Voters are “irrational”, despite oceans of research to the contrary.

    It’s increasingly like reading Maureen Dowd crossed with Nick Gillespie.

  27. jukeboxgrad says:

    michael:

    You want to know where this current mess started? It started right there, with Mondale telling the truth and Reagan talking nonsense. Trickle down, Laffer Curves, Shining Cities on the Hill. Lies and fairytales work. The most religious polity in the western world believes lies and fairytales. Huge surprise.

    Excellent, thank you. Yes, it’s completely natural that the party which has wrapped itself in religion has an approach to economics which boils down to nothing but magic, superstition and fantasy.

    Related to this is the Two Santa Claus Theory, as explained by Thom Hartmann. The GOP figured out 30 years ago that if raising spending is a great way to buy votes, then an even better way to buy votes is to raise spending while cutting taxes. That’s why 3/4 of the debt that Obama inherited was created under three presidents: Reagan, Bush and Bush.

    Also see here.

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    al-Ameda:

    It [Mitt’s plan] – except for privatizing Medicare – sound like a reprise of the Bush years.

    Well, don’t forget that Bush tried to privatize Social Security. So even that part is a rerun, a throwback. It’s the same old song with just a few minor changes to the lyrics.

  29. Moosebreath says:

    “Beyond that, though, this is exactly my reaction to the campaign to date: Plan? We don’t need no stinkin’ plan! ”

    While I take this point, I think there’s more to the Romney campaign than that. I think there’s also the breathtaking out-and-out lying about Obama, from “apologizing for America” to his very first ad “quoting” Obama while cutting out that Obama was saying what the 2008 McCain campaign was saying to running on Obama cutting Medicare when the unanimously supported by Republicans Ryan budget had the same level of cuts to changing welfare-to-work back to just plain welfare. Before my recent vacation, I asked James if there was a single Romney ad which he could point to as being truthful, and if he responded, I did not see it.

    Romney is the perfect candidate for the “both sides do it” crowd — it’s no wonder Doug is in the tank for him.

  30. Tony W says:

    Sidebar: I have to call B.S. for a moment – I keep reading in these comments pages that Doug is “in the tank” for one candidate or the other (usually a Republican), but I have seen plenty of evidence over the years that Doug is a pretty fair-minded fellow who honestly tries to evaluate candidates and ideas on their merits. Just in the past week I have seen Doug take down Romney with the same sharp wit used against Obama when deserved. We do get the odd occasion where “both sides do it” gets called out a bit unfairly (the R’s are clearly leaders in the lying-through-your-teeth category this election cycle).

    Point is – I come to this site often because the bloggers are center-right and most of the commenters are center-left or center-right as well. The result is a far more interesting debate than one gets in the mainstream media. I genuinely want to understand the “real” conservative perspective, and I get that here. I don’t want to discourage Doug and others (heck, even you Jan!) from posting, I genuinely value his perspective because it is unique and different from mine. This helps me better understand the world.

  31. Louis Wheeler says:

    It might sound like nitpicking, but the United States was intended to be a Republic. What good does comparing the US to democracies?

    The founders disapproved of democracy, because it always turns into a tyranny when the people start voting themselves privileges and favors. President Jefferson said that we needed a revolution every generation to keep down the power hungry. President Madison said that the American experiment would only last a century. And sure enough, right on schedule, the welfare state was empowered in the 1920s.

    Romney is caught between the TEA Party and the Republican Establishment. It is unclear which part he is pandering to.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    President Jefferson said that we needed a revolution every generation to keep down the power hungry. President Madison said that the American experiment would only last a century. And sure enough, right on schedule, the welfare state was empowered in the 1920s.

    I’m curious how you link the welfare state to what Jefferson and Madison said? Was not the welfare state a response to the Great Depression? What other remedies would have helped people through that harsh economic downturn?

  33. @PJ:

    I don’t do this to advance the interests of political candidates, that’s why.

  34. Stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, that does not address my point. There is, without a doubt, a great deal of BS in any campaign for office. However, you position appears to be that all campaign are identical. I find this to be an inaccurate assessment.

    Doug’s position- that both sides are the same- really goes beyond inaccuracy , to willful blindness. It’s clear that the Obama and Romney campaigns differ in their goals, policy prescriptions, campaigning styles, and their respect for fact checkers. Doug can’t see this, because he must not want to see this. Oh well, at least that’s clear now.

  35. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Here’s the actual (non-loopy) summary of Romney’s campaign thus far:

    – He won the nomination.

    – He’s raised a ton of money and established a network for a late-October – early-November ground game.

    – Now that he’s accepted the nomination he’ll begin to unleash a torrent of attack ads in the key states focusing on the economy.

    – His plan is to use GOTV operations and paid political ads to get more votes than Obama in enough states to win the Electoral College and ergo to become president.

    Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican an election is about trying to win the election, not about trying to appease the big thinking commentariat. Come on, let’s not be as naive as Ivory Snow.

  36. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I guess that explains your fondness of “both sides do it”.

  37. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t do this to advance the interests of political candidates, that’s why.

    In an ideal world you’d own up to this:

    When two parties lie, but one party lies more, you’d back the party that lies less.

    To say one pound of “crud” is equal to ten pounds don’t cut it, and in arguing the equality you put yourself in the mix. You lie.

  38. John,

    Having a different opinion is not a “lie.”

    I have nothing good to say about Romney, and very little good to say about Obama, certainly not enough to cause me to want to support him. How hard is that to accept?

  39. @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m asking you specifically about lies, of the fact checked kind.

    (I have read that “fact checking” is the path to better journalism. Whereas reporters used to say to a prevaricator “that’s what your opponent says” now they say “not what fact checkers say.” To the extent that this expands, all the good.)

  40. John,

    Throughout the course of this campaign we’ve seen both campaigns, and both candidates, called on the carpet by Factcheck.org, Politifact, and Glenn Kessler for claims they have made in campaigns ads or speeches. I’m not really keeping score, largely because lying in a political campaign is as old as politics itself.

  41. BTW, you may have noticed that the last big thread petered out with …

    “Just wait, just wait, Obama will lie too, then you all will be sorry!”

    Well, promised (or hoped for) lies aren’t the same as real ones.

  42. @Doug Mataconis:

    Total them up. That’s a good challenge for you.

    If you rally want to rank the two campaigns, count their Pinocchio noses, or whatever.

  43. John,

    Can’t you do it yourself? You assume that if the number comes out higher on one side it will mean something to me. Trust me, it won’t. I’ll still feel the same way about both candidates as I do right now.

  44. I’ll do it for you. Politifact tracks people. They divide into 6 categories, but I’ll total them up, rounding up “half-true” and down from “mostly false.”

    Obama: 73% true, 27% false

    Romney: 58% true, 42% false

    Note that on the top two categories, Obama really kicks ass.

  45. @Doug Mataconis:

    I was doing it while you posted that comment.

    I find it truly sad that you prepared yourself with “You assume that if the number comes out higher on one side it will mean something to me.”

    What the heck are you doing here?

  46. John,

    Because I care more about the issues than how campaigns play a political game that has been played this way, and worse, for hundreds of years now. Process stories are fun to write about but they don’t strike me as a reason to vote for or against someone.

  47. @Doug Mataconis:

    First of all, let’s stipulate that “You assume that if the number comes out higher on one side it will mean something to me” is a deeply disturbing answer.

    Why? Because the first issue in a democracy is the viability of democracy itself.

    That requires truth.

    Because I care more about the issues than how campaigns play a political game that has been played this way, and worse, for hundreds of years now. Process stories are fun to write about but they don’t strike me as a reason to vote for or against someone.

    I think “issues” are pretty thin on the ground lately. Have you tore down Romney’s budget like you should?

  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    Because I care more about the issues

    Krugman: “This is surely the first time one of our major parties has run a campaign so completely fraudulent.”

    That should be an ‘issue.’

  49. Basically “truth in a democracy” is what tore me from the Republican party. When Bush lied us into Iraq that was it for me.

    It would take a respect for truth to bring me back, but what we have instead is a partisan acceptance of lies. Not little lies. Not lies around the edges, We have lies at the center of a campaign.

    I think it is simply dishonorable for you to defend that Doug.

  50. I don’t defend it John, it’s just that I’m not surprised by it. Lying in politics? I’m shocked.

  51. @Doug Mataconis:

    You have a funny tactic. I’ve noticed it before. When you know you are on weak ground you just dribble out weak answers. You know you can’t turn the argument, and so you just run the clock.

    The simple fact is that 2 lies are not equal to 1. When you argue false equivalence, you become party with the greater liar.

    You become part of the problem.

    Feel free to dribble out a few words, rather than deal with that.

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    I don’t defend it

    You’ve adopted the position that how extreme it gets makes no difference to you. That’s tantamount to defending it.

  53. @Louis Wheeler:

    It might sound like nitpicking, but the United States was intended to be a Republic. What good does comparing the US to democracies?

    The founders disapproved of democracy,

    You need to read Federalist 10, 14, and and 39 where you will find that the word “democracy” is there used to describe a small society, like a city-state, wherein the people governed directly. The word republic is used to describe a larger entity, like a modern nation-state, where the voters elect representative to govern on their behalf. That latter definition of “republic” is synonymous to the modern concept of “democracy.”

    . President Jefferson said that we needed a revolution every generation to keep down the power hungry.

    Jefferson wanted a new constitutions every generation, in fact. Jefferson had some pretty radical ideas. I am not sure how that helps your position.

    President Madison said that the American experiment would only last a centur

    I am unfamiliar with this assertion. You wouldn’t happen to have a citation, would you?

    Still, I am not sure, apart from an ideological stance, that 1920 marked the end of the constitution.

  54. John,

    Even if I accept your premise, do you not understand that doesn’t change my opinion about the President?

  55. Translation: Unless I agree with jukebox, I’m lying.

  56. @jukeboxgrad:

    Imagine if everyone felt the way Doug does. All candidates lie, no big. What’s the next step in the cycle? The candidates of course say “hey, no one cares how much we like …”

  57. @Doug Mataconis:

    That sure qualified as a (bizarre) dribble.

  58. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    Translation: Unless I agree with jukebox, I’m lying.

    If you can’t explain the morality of treating 10 lies as the equivalent of 5 lies, then yes, you’re lying if you claim to be moral.

  59. @john personna:

    You honestly have me baffled. Clearly unless I agree with you, you won’t be satisfied that there is a difference of opinion here.

  60. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    Lying in politics? I’m shocked.

    Link:

    Everybody Does It

    That seems to be the new Beltway line, now that the shock over the lie-fest in Tampa has died down a bit. … it’s excuse time — sure, Ryan and Romney told a few whoppers, but isn’t that just how politics is? … But the excuses just aren’t true. Read Dylan Matthews on the amazing string of false or misleading statements in Ryan’s speech; look at how Mitt Romney flipped from government spending is good to government spending is bad in just a few sentences. Can you find stuff like that in previous conventions, and in particular on the Democratic side? I don’t think so.

    Yes, Bill Clinton and John Edwards lied about sex. Shame on them, but what does that have to do with policy?

    This is something new in American politics, and everyone trying to deny that fact is in effect an enabler.

    He’s talking about you.

  61. @Doug Mataconis:

    OK, let’s be clear then. I think:

    1) truth is vital to democracy
    2) more lying is less truth

    Where did you disagree?

  62. In case you’ve missed it, I have pointed out here cases where the candidates and the campaigns have made misrepresentations. Most recently with respect to the Romney campaign’s welfare reform claims, and the claims about the early voting lawsuit in Ohio.

    So, yes, it annoys me when candidates lie and I’ll point it out from time to time. But, the reason I have problems with Romney have little to do with his campaign tactics. And, my opinion of the President is not really influenced by the fact that his campaign has a slightly less penchant for prevarication.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

  63. @jukeboxgrad:

    I remember noticing at the time that Clinton reduced respect for the truth. He did it for things outside the national interest. My only thought on cigar games was that he should have manned up and just done her. But that was hardly national policy.

    Nonetheless that was a foot in the door, and the Bush administration expanded the lies into policy and the most important decision a nation can ever make, whether you go to war. Whether the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud.

  64. @Doug Mataconis:

    Even if I accept your premise, do you not understand that doesn’t change my opinion about the President?

    Speaking for myself, I am not concerned with changing your mind about how to vote. What I don’t understand, whether it be on the topic of the original post, or on this side issue of fact-check comparisons, as to why you refuse to make a comparative statement between the two candidates.

    Why is stating that Romney isn’t running an especially good campaign (or making a different assessment, if you have a different opinion) so problematic. Why the vague “all politicians shovel BS” line?

    Likewise, why stick to “all politicians lie” when their is evidence that one lies more than the other?

    I don’t see, for example, why assessing the relative campaigning of Obama/Romney or the quality of campaigning of the two has anything to do whether you vote for Johnson or not.

    Analytically, I don’t get it.

  65. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t misunderstand the twists and dodges at all, Doug.

    Dribble out anything rather than say that more lies are worse than less.

    We ALL get it.

  66. @Steven L. Taylor: Put another way: I don’t see my saying that Romney’s convention speech could have, and should have been, better as an endorsement of Obama or a rejection of Romney. I see it as an analytic assessment of a politician’s behavior.

    Likewise, it is possible to discuss the relative honesty of the two candidate as measured by a specific metric without it being about convincing someone to vote for X or Y.

    The need for false equivalencies makes no sense.

    Unless you are saying that all blog posts are about electioneering? But I don’t think that you are saying that, so what’s the deal?

  67. Steven,

    I’ve commented on the relative problems with Romney’s campaign in posts here for months, though.

  68. I say above:

    Imagine if everyone felt the way Doug does. All candidates lie, no big. What’s the next step in the cycle? The candidates of course say “hey, no one cares how much we [lie] …”

    Let’s imagine it the other way. Let’s say the blogs go nuts with fact checking, really honest fact checking. What’s the next step in the cycle? The candidates of course say “Oh oh, people care how much we lie …”

  69. @Doug Mataconis:

    I’ve commented on the relative problems with Romney’s campaign in posts here for months, though.

    Yes, you have criticized Romney–I am not saying otherwise.

    I am sincerely curious and confused, however, on the multiple threads about Romney’s speech and campaign and now the relative truth issue. I find both to be simplistic false equivalencies, but I don’t understand why you are so stubbornly sticking to them. Because it seems, at least to me, that on the relative campaign quality issue, for example, you aren’t so much actually arguing that you think the two campaigns are identical in quality but, rather, that they might as well be because all politicians shovel BS. Likewise, on the fact-check argument it isn’t so much that you are arguing that both candidates lie equally as much as, well, all politicians lie, so what does it matter?

    Now, as sentiments in the general populations held by people not paying a lot of attention, these are normal assessments. However, for someone who writes about this stuff daily, they are odd over-simplifications that I don’t see the need for, especially when you seem to be stating that if you deviate from the equivalencies that that would be tantamount to changing your mind about your vote in November.

  70. @Doug Mataconis:

    It’s pretty clear to me that this kind of dribble is really just passive-aggressive support for the Romney campaign.

  71. John,

    Think what you wish. This exchange is boring me.

  72. @Doug Mataconis:

    I offered you this, Doug:

    OK, let’s be clear then. I think:

    1) truth is vital to democracy
    2) more lying is less truth

    Where did you disagree?

    You dodged. The only reason, rational or irrational, I can think for a dodge was that you didn’t like who the answer would taint.

  73. No, I responded. You just don’t like the response. That’s not a “dodge.”

  74. @Doug Mataconis:

    You answered a different question. You pointed out that you had identified lies. That is a service to the community, but it is not an answer to the questions that the three of us have been asking you here this morning.

    It does not justify false equivalence.

  75. John,

    I prefer to look at the fact that both campaigns have lied, frequently and without any apparent regret. Counting Pinocchios is kind of boring.

  76. @Doug Mataconis:

    So let me ask you this straight up:

    If journalists and bloggers were broadly criticizing “the biggest liar” would that encourage campaigns to tell more truths?

    Wouldn’t that kind of journalism improve your public service?

  77. Top Obama adviser says Romney campaign based on ‘tripod of lies’

    There is actually an opportunity there, for a truth-telling blogger. Look at which campaign puts lies at the center of their effort, and push back.

  78. Because otherwise this:

    I prefer to look at the fact that both campaigns have lied, frequently and without any apparent regret. Counting Pinocchios is kind of boring.

    looks like a dribble designed to deflect from the more basic truth.

  79. Moosebreath says:

    @Tony W:

    “I have seen plenty of evidence over the years that Doug is a pretty fair-minded fellow who honestly tries to evaluate candidates and ideas on their merits”

    Sorry, but I haven’t. I have seen plenty of evidence that Doug filters news in a way that is favorable to Romney — highlighting stories unfavorable to Obama and favorable to Romney. I have seen plenty of evidence that Doug chooses which polls to post on based upon how favorable they are to Romney or unfavorable to Obama.

    While I don’t want Doug to stop posting, I would like him to be more honest about his biases. He clearly dislikes Obama on economics, and is willing to swallow large amounts of stuff he doesn’t like from Romney on foreign affairs, social issues and elsewhere because of this. If he were more honest about this (the way James is), instead of claiming false equivalencies all of the time, he’d get far less grief.

  80. John,

    I’m not interested in giving traffic to Obama campaign memes. They can handle that themselves quite well, I think

  81. The campaigns are going to do what it takes to win, not what it takes to make journalists and bloggers happy.

  82. @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m saying this is the time for a feedback loop. Campaigns sure as heck read, dissect, and analyze the press. They care about how their messages are received.

    If Romney goes down with memeorandum running against him for most of the campaign cycle, you know memeorandum will be on the next Republican’s radar.

    … ah well, you must be playing a tin ear on this. You know how blogs shape, or attempt to shape, opinion. You do it constantly, declaring some things important, and declaring some things “soon to be forgotten.”

  83. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Throughout the course of this campaign we’ve seen both campaigns, and both candidates, called on the carpet by Factcheck.org, Politifact, and Glenn Kessler for claims they have made in campaigns ads or speeches. I’m not really keeping score, largely because lying in a political campaign is as old as politics itself.”

    Shorter version: both sides do it.

  84. jukeboxgrad says:

    john:

    the Bush administration expanded the lies into policy and the most important decision a nation can ever make

    Yes, and the country let him get away with that. This is a lesson to every politician watching that there is no penalty for lying, even extreme lying, and Mitt winning would underline that message. Where this leads is our government ending up in the hands of those who are the most skilled and brazen in their lying.

  85. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    my opinion of the President is not really influenced by the fact that his campaign has a slightly less penchant for prevarication

    Except that your “slightly” is false. You might as well say that a 3-hour marathon is “slightly” better than a 4-hour marathon.

    And your “prevarication” is also a distortion, because it means ‘evasion,’ and what Mitt and Ryan are doing goes way beyond evasion.

    No, I responded.

    You typed words. That doesn’t mean you “responded.”

    The campaigns are going to do what it takes to win, not what it takes to make journalists and bloggers happy.

    To the extent that people like you refuse to recognize extreme lying for what it is, you are helping to ensure that “what it takes to win” will be extreme lying.

    steven:

    on the fact-check argument it isn’t so much that you are arguing that both candidates lie equally as much as, well, all politicians lie, so what does it matter?

    There’s not much space between “slightly less” (“his campaign has a slightly less penchant for prevarication”) and “equally as much,” so I think he is indeed pretty much “arguing that both candidates lie equally as much.”