One Man’s Truth Is Another’s Outright Goddamned Lie

John Cole takes exception to my recent summary of recent Obama campaign highlight.

John Cole takes exception to my recent summary of recent Obama campaign highlights:

Now, though, we’ve got the Obama administration signing off on an ad insinuating that Mitt Romney killed a woman and the vice president refusing to back away from the suggestion that Romney wants to put black people back in chains.

Cole calls this an “outright goddamned lie,” even though my summary of both events is the “Morning Joe” conventional wisdom.

In fairness, “insinuating that Mitt Romney killed a woman” is a bit glib; but it was shorthand for an ad that readers are familiar with and that we’d discussed quite a bit in previous posts. But that ad clearly insinuates that, were it not for Mitt Romney, the woman wouldn’t have died and that he’s therefore directly responsible. In fact, the ad is a lie in almost all respects. Both Soptic and his late wife had health insurance after the plant shut down. And the death was five years later.  All of the respectable media outlets see that ad for what it was. Here’s ABC’s Political Punch, which Cole sees as a reliable source:

The ethics and accuracy of the claims in the 30-second spot — titled “Understands” — have been the subject of intense debate since it first appeared online one week ago.

Republicans and some Democrats say the group crossed a line in suggesting Romney’s role at Bain Capital contributed to a woman’s death, especially after fact-checkers debunked the suggestion that the woman died immediately after her husband’s layoff from a Bain-owned factory or entirely lacked health insurance because of the move.

The Obama campaign has refused to disavow the ad, claiming no affiliation with the super PAC, even though administration officials have fundraised for it and former White House staffers run its operations.

Amusingly, though, Cole essentially buys the ad’s absurd claims as gospel: “First off, if that woman had health insurance that had not been robbed by the vulture capitalists at Bain, led by Mitt Romney, she might still be alive.” Regardless, in an act of good will, Cole says he’ll “pass that off as debatable.”

It’s apparently the second that sets Cole off:

 Biden never said Romney wants to put black people in chains. Period. That is not what Biden said. Here is the actual quote:

Specifically, the vice president said to the Danville, Virginia, crowd that the House GOPbudget, partly written by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., gives an indication of the Republican presidential ticket’s values. 

“We got a real clear picture of what they all value,” Biden said. “Every Republican’s voted for it. Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they’re proposing. Romney wants to let the — he said in the first hundred days he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, ‘unchain Wall Street.’ They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

An Obama campaign official tells ABC News that “as the full quote makes obvious, the Vice President was clearly using a metaphor to describe the devastating impact of deregulating Wall Street and the financial industry, as well as how Governor Romney’s policies would take us back to the same failed formula that led to the 2008 financial crisis – the same failed formula that benefitted a few, but crashed our economy and hurt the middle class.”

The problem was that, in the context of an audience that was roughly half African-American and the pacing, delivery, and odd accent Biden used for the “They’re going to put y’all back in chains” colored the line.  Former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, an African-American Democrat, said that “without question” the remark was a racial appeal, noting that Biden used “ya’ll” rather than “us.”  ”So he was still involved with that separate America. And I’m sick and tired of being considered something other than an American,” said Wilder.

Again, watch the  “Morning Joe” clip (which was my introduction to the controversy). With the exception of Mika Brzezinski, the whole crew thought it was, at best, an “inartful” choice of words on Biden’s part that clearly came across as a slavery reference. Even Jonathan Capehart thought so, although he saw no need for an apology given things that Republicans have said about Obama. That, incidentally, was the take of most of the commenters on Doug’s OTB thread about the incident.

Now, I happen to think this was just another case of Biden being Biden. That is, I think he got rolling in front of a partisan crowd that was eating up his message and got carried away riffing off of the “unchain Wall Street” line.  Was it a racial appeal to a black crowd? I think it was. Do I think Biden actually meant it? No.

But my criticism wasn’t aimed at the line itself—this sort of thing happens all the time on the campaign trail and, face it, especially when it’s Joe Biden doing the talking—but rather at how Biden and his team handled the aftermath. Rather than just coming out and saying that, no, of course the vice president doesn’t think that Romney wants to put people in back into chains, they spent two days hamhandedly defending the line.

It’s worth pointing out, too, that I chose those two incidents because they were both fresh in people’s minds. I consider the “Understands” spot a far, far more egregious example of dirty campaigning than the “chains” brouhaha.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Matt says:

    John Cole is still a thing? Hadn’t heard his name in years.

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Cole calls this an “outright goddamned lie,” even though my summary of both events is the “Morning Joe” conventional wisdom.

    Oh, well then. Case closed, I’d say. Can’t have more of an authoritative arbiter than that.

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    The problem was that, in the context of an audience that was roughly half African-American and the pacing, delivery, and odd accent Biden used for the “They’re going to put y’all back in chains” colored the line.

    That’s really how you’re going to phrase that? Don’t want to take a moment and perhaps re-edit?

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    said that “without question” the remark was a racial appeal, noting that Biden used “ya’ll” rather than “us.”

    And as we know, white people in Virginia never use “y’all” in speech.

  5. A says:

    Well it would be “ya’ll”. Joe Biden, despite not being the wealthiest of the four members of tickets this election, is not really going to come out poorly under a Romney/Ryan administration. Most of the people he was talking to would.

  6. anjin-san says:

    even though my summary of both events is the “Morning Joe” conventional wisdom.

    And Romney has told us his taxes are kosher, and we should just run along. Why can’t people outside the Foxverse think what they are told to think?

  7. Dan Nexon says:

    Let’s move beyond the specifics of the advertisement for a second. Given the way that our health-care system works, it is close to 100% probable that the following chain of events has occurred many, many times:

    1) Bain-style acquisition produces capitalist rent-seeking that;
    2) Leads to layoffs;
    3) Leads to lost health insurance; and
    4) Leads to unnecessary death via foregone or delayed health care.

    That’s what we should be talking about…that we live in a system in which the Mitt Romneys of the world can use existing legal and regulatory frameworks to make gobs of money while providing very little social benefit (and none that a traditional VC firm couldn’t), that the same system doesn’t provide the basic social insurance necessary to protect workers and their families who lose out, and that candidate Romney’s policy positions are likely to exacerbate such pathologies.

  8. Scott says:

    Personally, although I like Balloon-Juice for the diversity of its bloggers (urban-rural, male-female, geographic, etc., although all liberal) I found it bad form for John to poach on your site.

  9. In fairness, “insinuating that Mitt Romney killed a woman” is a bit glib; but it was shorthand for an ad that readers are familiar with and that we’d discussed quite a bit in previous posts.

    That summary has the advantage that it summarizes and repositions the ad at the same time.

    But that ad clearly insinuates that, were it not for Mitt Romney, the woman wouldn’t have died and that he’s therefore directly responsible.

    Of course not. No reasonable listener is going to think that in “cancer roulette” having insurance coverage or having early detection means sure survival.

    In fact, the ad is a lie in almost all respects. Both Soptic and his late wife had health insurance after the plant shut down. And the death was five years later.

    Those are the reasons I also dislike the ad. I think that if they were going to make a case about industrial lay-offs, health insurance, and the safety net, they should have chosen someone not connected with Bain. I think it would have made a cleaner argument.

    They made a dirty ad that made Mitt vaguely guilty by association. That is not at all the same as “Mitt killed a woman.”

  10. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san: You realize “Morning Joe” is on MSNBC and that the only identifiable conservative on the show is Scarborough, who’s virtually a pariah among movement conservatives (for reasons I don’t get, but still)? It’s an incredibly popular show on a bipartisan basis among bicoastal wonk types.

  11. Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: yeah, conventional wisdom. Wasn’t it conventional wisdom that Al Gore said he invented the internet, even though conventional wisdom was ,um, incorrect?

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: @john personna I think “Mitt Romney is an awful human being who ruins peoples lives and doesn’t care” is the takeaway. But it clearly insinuates that this woman is dead because Romney is a greedy bastard.

    I think @Dan Nexon makes a perfectly valid point and that there’s a debate to be had on the nature of the health care system. But it’s not Romney’s doing.

  13. anjin-san says:

    @ James

    You realize “Morning Joe” is on MSNBC

    Umm. Yes. My point is that just because a campaign or a pundit says something is so, it does not mean I have to buy it. I don’t watch MSNBC, because it is pretty much of an echo chamber, just as Fox is.

    The difference it that most Democrats seem to understand what MSNBC is, and most Republicans seen to actually think Fox is “Fair and Balanced”…

  14. al-Ameda says:

    All of these discussions should remind us that ‘Negative Campaigning’ works. And how do we know this?

    Simple inference works for me: why would these campaigns spend millions (hundreds of millions) of dollars on such media advertising if it didn’t work? It does.

  15. Mike says:

    @Dan Nexon: We don’t even need to include Bain in this. If you are do not get health insurance through work, there is a good chance that you can’t afford the cost of an individual policy and even if you could, if you were this women’s age, you would probably be rejected for coverage via the insurer’s underwriting. The democrats put in place ACA to try to rectify this – give every one the opportunity to get health insurance. Romney, on the other hand has stated that he wants to overturn ACA. He does not want you to have access to health care is you are unemployed (by whatever means, including Bain buying your company and laying you off), poor, or have a pre-exiting condition that an insurer would use to deny you coverage, even if you could afford it. So, while Romney didn’t kill this woman, he is in favor of policies that would increase the incidence of deaths like this.

  16. @James Joyner:

    I think “Mitt Romney is an awful human being who ruins peoples lives and doesn’t care” is the takeaway. But it clearly insinuates that this woman is dead because Romney is a greedy bastard.

    As I’ve said, I think the Romney capitulation on job creation is major. The ad is dirty, but it strikes at the moneyed class and their previously stated social contract.

    Mitt started this campaign with the claim that he created ‘Well In Excess Of 100,000 Jobs‘ Presumably those 100,000 had insurance and health care.

    Falling back now to “he didn’t kill that woman” is a poor answer.

  17. You know, in the first threads on the ad the left was pretty willing to discard the sensational aspects and just dive into jobs and the safety net.

    It isn’t the left that has kept returning to the pump, working the sensation.

  18. Dan Nexon says:

    @James Joyner: I can basically sign onto that. I wonder if Presidential systems undermine political discourse by over-personalizing political arguments at the expense of debates over structures and institutions. But I don’t know enough about campaigning in parliamentary systems to sustain that argument.

  19. David M says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think @Dan Nexon makes a perfectly valid point and that there’s a debate to be had on the nature of the health care system. But it’s not Romney’s doing.

    I’m pretty sure Romney is campaigning on both repealing Obamacare and cutting Medicaid spending (Ryan), so it should be fair game.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: I don’t disagree that the left is more interested in the health care debate than the right. But the ad doesn’t advance the debate one iota precisely because of “the sensational aspects.”

    And, yeah, it’s hardly surprising that the right is attacking the sensationalism. That, after all, is what the media coverage of the ad—which is to say, the ad, since it only ran once otherwise—is about. You can’t run an ad suggesting that Romney’s a bastard whose cold heartedness led to a woman’s death an he doesn’t care and then expect a high-minded debate on health care reform to flow from it.

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Well, know you’ve backtracked. Saying “it clearly insinuates that this woman is dead because Romney is a greedy bastard” is far different than as you did before claiming that it’s “insinuating that Mitt Romney killed a woman.” It certainly insinuates the former. It does not insinuate the latter. Words do have meaning.

  22. mistermix says:

    I think the next revision of college logic textbooks should include the informal fallacy “Appeal to Morning Joe” which has to be the weakest of all formulations of the weakest of all arguments (appeal to authority).

  23. wr says:

    @Scott: I like it when bloggers comment on other sites. It’s kind of like when The Green Hornet and Kato appeared on Batman…

  24. @mistermix:

    Man, I wish I’d seen this first!

  25. Jeremy R says:

    Now, I happen to think this was just another case of Biden being Biden. That is, I think he got rolling in front of a partisan crowd that was eating up his message and got carried away riffing off of the “unchain Wall Street” line. Was it a racial appeal to a black crowd? I think it was.Do I think Biden actually meant it? No.

    So you seem to be stipulating that this was Biden riffing off-script leading to a poor choice of words, that it came across to some as a racial appeal, and that Biden didn’t actually mean it as one.

    Let me add on to that:

    First the Obama team would never have Biden intentionally make the sort of clumsy racial appeal you seem to be hearing, as it’s it’s so easily politically exploitable by the Right and the only thing it would likely accomplish is offending some in your audience.

    Second, the Romney camp has gone all in exploiting it, not because they’re actually outraged, but because they’re intentionally invoking white racial grievance politics, which they know to be extremely effective, and so they’re milking it for all it’s worth. This is very similar McCain’s move during the ’08 election where he derailed a week of news cycles (and invoked the OJ trial) by ranting about Obama “playing the Race Card from the bottom of the deck.”

    So if one side bumbled into racially awkward wording, which you stipulate they didn’t actually mean, and the other side is using it as an excuse to engage in a calculated, prolonged racial appeal…

  26. wr says:

    @James Joyner: ” You can’t run an ad suggesting that Romney’s a bastard whose cold heartedness led to a woman’s death an he doesn’t care and then expect a high-minded debate on health care reform to flow from it. ”

    Well then, how about a high-minded debate on whether Romney is a bastard whose cold heartedness led to a woman’s death — or at least the mass impoverishment of thousands of people he trampled on so he could get richer?

    It used to be that Republicans liked to talk about “character.” Well, this is Romney’s character. He’s a cold hearted bastard who simply doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t in his socioeconomic class.

    But now to mention that is off limits. Along with his stand on health care. His record as governor. His taxes. His tax plan. And anything other than what a rotten president Obama is.

    If Romney wants to own America, he should team up with his buddy Adelson and write the check. If he wants to be its president, maybe he should start acting like someone who would be responsive to the needs of its people.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jeremy R:

    So if one side bumbled into racially awkward wording, which you stipulate they didn’t actually mean, and the other side is using it as an excuse to engage in a calculated, prolonged racial appeal…

    ….this proves that Both Sides Do It?

  28. James Joyner says:

    @mistermix: I’m not using the “Morning Joe” clip as an argument but rather as a set-up, which I return to later. I devote several paragraphs to explaining my argument.

  29. Spartacus says:

    James,

    It’s ironic that in a post criticizing dishonesty you’ve failed to be honest.

    The Obama administration did not sign off on the ad. The ad was put out by a pro-Obama PAC that does not have any ties to the Obama administration or the Obama campaign, and I suspect you know that.

    Secondly, Joe Soptic’s employer promised him health insurance. The company was taken over by Bain and loaded up with debt that was used to pay Romney and other Bain investors millions of dollars. The debt was so high and unsustainable that the company eventually had to file for bankruptcy, and as a result, Joe Soptic lost the health insurance that had been promised to him. Soptic’s wife did not get regular checkups until she later got another job that offered insurance. She then got cancer, lost her job and insurance and then died.

    Arguing that the loss of Joe Soptic’s promised insurance had no effect on his wife’s death is like arguing that someone who loses another person’s savings had no impact on the foreclosure of the victim’s home because the victim had had a job that was paying the mortgage and, but for the loss of that job, the victim would have been able to continue his mortgage payments despite the loss of his savings.

  30. Jeremy R says:

    The Republican Party has a new ad up on this topic called “Anger & Division”. Does anyone else noticed something odd about the end of it?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STdzNePvR-4&feature=player_detailpage#t=59s

    The static fades out at the edges, highlighting the the middle letters, it also scrolls up drawing your attention upward. The central, smaller text has margins set that kind of underlines only part of the upper giant text. Finally, the all caps top word ANGER& is a larger font size than the bottom DIVISION, so again your eyes are drawn up that way as it all fades in.

  31. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: I’m not backtracking; rather, I’m acknowledging that that particular version of my remarks on the subject were a glib shorthand. A blog is a conversation, not a standalone. The post in question joins a conversation in the middle and I presume that readers are familiar with the longer version of my views on the subject. I suppose I could have inserted hyperlinks to the previous threads there but it didn’t strike me as necessary.

    @Spartacus: Oh, c’mon. The PAC in question is run by a former Obama spokesman and uses Joe Soptic, who has appeared in official Obama campaign ads and, indeed, appears to have been shot at the same time as those ads. And the Obama team has repeatedly and steadfastly refused to distance themselves from the ad content. It’s their ad.

  32. @James Joyner:

    Oh, c’mon. The PAC in question is run by a former Obama spokesman and uses Joe Soptic, who has appeared in official Obama campaign ads and, indeed, appears to have been shot at the same time as those ads. And the Obama team has repeatedly and steadfastly refused to distance themselves from the ad content. It’s their ad.

    The current legal structure for campaigns allows them a “once removed” stance, and they are playing that.

    If the law were written differently, and things funded for Obama had to be “I approve this message” we know it would be played differently.

    For that reason it isn’t their ad. It’s their ad, once removed. That’s the game.

  33. Spartacus says:

    @James Joyner:

    Saying, as you did, that the Obama administration signed off on the ad is not the functional equivalent of saying that the Obama administration has not distanced itself from the ad or that the ad’s makers used to work for the Obama campaign. The two are quite different and honesty requires a recognition of that.

    Moreover, as I explained, the connection between Romney’s conduct and the death of Soptic’s wife is not nearly as tenuous as you described.

  34. Scott says:

    @Spartacus:

    The Obama administration did not sign off on the ad. The ad was put out by a pro-Obama PAC that does not have any ties to the Obama administration or the Obama campaign, and I suspect you know that.

    You really believe that? I guess Crossroads GPS and the rest of the pro-Romney PACs have no ties to the Romney campaign. The rules governing these things are so loose that they are basically non-rules.

  35. mistermix says:

    @James Joyner: Yeah, that’s why you circle back to it after putting out your arguments. “Again, watch that Morning Joe clip”. Not that it’s so important,but I had to laugh at the thought of the talking heads on that program being quoted as some sort of arbiter of anything.

    BTW, though you’re focusing on justifying the supposed falsity of the Soptic ad or the offensiveness of the Biden remarks, that’s not what Cole was pissed about. As I read him, he was objecting to the notion that either of those minor items was an indicator of some new low in politics. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re nothing much new and nothing much worse than what’s been going on so far, and the notion that they mark some turning or inflection point is completely arbitrary.

  36. anjin-san says:

    I had to laugh at the thought of the talking heads on that program being quoted as some sort of arbiter of anything.

    This was my thought as well.

  37. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    Then I presume going after Romney for anything Karl Rove’s group puts in an ad is equally fair game. That’s contrary to our brave new post-Citizens United world.

  38. James Joyner says:

    @Jeremy R: I think Biden got carried away, riffed off the “chains” thing, and made a racially charged remark. I think the meaning was intentional. I don’t think it was premeditated or that Biden actually believes it. Again, though, it would be a non-story had Biden and/or his team immediately disavowed it once someone pointed it out to them rather than clumsily defending it.

  39. Spartacus says:

    @Scott:

    Both you and James are conflating a common purpose with a united effort. Of course the campaigns benefit from the ads of PACs that support them, but that’s not the question. There’s simply no evidence that either the Romney campaign or the Obama campaign are coordinating efforts with Super PACs. In fact, there hasn’t even been a single credible allegation that either campaign has done this.

    Contrary to your assertion, the rules on this are apparently quite clear, which is why both campaigns have been able to avoid breaking them. So I’m not sure why you and James believe it’s definitely happening.

  40. mistermix says:

    @Spartacus: Right. And though we’re in the weeds arguing the details on these things, James’ overarching point was that this was one indicator of a new low in political discourse. If we accept that, Romney’s failure to repudiate every goddam thing that the 2 zillion independent expenditure groups are saying that’s negative is some failing of the Romney campaign.

    If you’re going to write on this in a straightforward manner and aren’t trying to spin, you should at least acknowledge that it would be political insanity for either campaign to start disowning stuff that they didn’t put out. James didn’t do that, that’s in part why he got tweaked by Cole, and now he’s getting some pushback here.

    if you agree that the Obama campaign’s failure to piss on the Soptic ad is nothing new and unremarkable, what’s left is the notion that failure to repudiate a maybe-gaffe by Biden (which I don’t accept as much of a gaffe) stands by itself as a new low.

    I don’t buy it, and I think James should walk back this uncharacteristic pearl clutching that is, frankly, beneath him.

  41. rudderpedals says:

    If I mainlined Morning Joe every morning I couldn’t write essays from the beltway outsider’s perspective and keep it real. Scarborough’s good for picking up the day’s talking points from the deeply entrenched insider perspective however…

  42. Scott says:

    @Spartacus: Granted that I have no direct knowledge other than suspicion. I also believe (based on nothing, of course) that even if there was any evidence, there would be minimal penalty.

  43. Scott says:

    @wr: I’m more of a Marvel guy myself but if James doesn’t mind, then I shouldn’t.

  44. Ben Wolf says:

    1). Of course it’s the Obama campaign’s ad. If the President hadn’t wanted it out there he could have shut it down at any time. And don’t use the “he didn’t know argument”: campaigns are highly organized and everything is coordinated.

    2). It isn’t a new low. It is low, but no worse than a draft-dodging chief executive and his Machiavellian vice-president attacking the service record of a man who served his country and didn’t run like a little girl. And yes, the Bush campaign owned Swift Boat Veterans for the same reasons I provided above in regards to the “Mitt Romney gave my wife cancer and laughed about it” ad.

  45. Hoot Gibson says:

    according to Obama’s Labor Department, 44 states had increased unemployment.

    Four more years! Four More Years! FOUR MORE YEARS!!1111!!!!!

  46. Moderate Mom says:

    James, don’t forget that Cole also said that he liked you as a person. And Doug too. Now that he’s called you a goddamned liar, do you like him as a person too?

  47. James Joyner says:

    @Moderate Mom: It’s a weird bit of cognitive dissonance, I must confess.

    As with Joe Biden, who I actually like quite a bit, I write off a lot of this as “John Being John.” John and I are both middle aged military vets who used to be staunch conservative Republicans and have since found ourselves on the outside looking in. John has, for whatever reason, gotten much angrier at the party and now actively supports the liberal cause whereas I’m trying to continue the fight from the inside, if only barely.

  48. wr says:

    @Scott: That was actually a TV reference, not a comic book one. But I guess you have to be as ancient as me to have fond memories of watching that great martial arts expert Burt Ward kick Bruce Lee’s ass…

  49. wr says:

    @wr: Which is not meant to be a parallell for Joyner/Cole, by the way. In the world of bloggers, they’re both Bruce Lee.

  50. Bob2 says:

    I suspect Cole is angrier because he’s started to talk more to people this stuff affects.
    Maybe you should try that some day. Definitely Doug because good lord. It’s not abstract like blogs and DC media try to keep it.

    Also, maybe give up the false equivalency meme while you’re at it. You’ve been already destroyed on the “new low” aspect of this argument, but you rather ignored those cites on where Republicans have repeatedly gone way lower.

  51. Nikki says:

    The problem was that, in the context of an audience that was roughly half African-American and the pacing, delivery, and odd accent Biden used for the “They’re going to put y’all back in chains” colored the line.

    So you feel bad for all us black folk because of the “chains” imagery, is that it, James? Trust me, we dusky-hued are adults. We knew what Biden meant.

  52. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    John has, for whatever reason, gotten much angrier at the party and now actively supports the liberal cause whereas I’m trying to continue the fight from the inside, if only barely.

    What do you mean, “for whatever reason”? Cole has been quite voluminous in his reasons for disagreement with the the GOP, staring with Teri Schiavo and moving on from there. Writing “for whatever reason” seems to imply some vague, unknoweable grudge, rather than the well-documented record that Cole has left. If you don’t know the reason, it’s because you’re not paying attention.

  53. slimslowslider says:

    @Matt:

    With wit like this “BREAKING! Fidel Vigoda dead at 80-something. Abe Castro still hanging in there” you sound like quite the cut up, sir.

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Oh, c’mon. The PAC in question is run by a former Obama spokesman and uses Joe Soptic, who has appeared in official Obama campaign ads and, indeed, appears to have been shot at the same time as those ads. And the Obama team has repeatedly and steadfastly refused to distance themselves from the ad content. It’s their ad.

    So James, you agree with me that Citizens United is an absolute joke of a decision and the ruling Justices (especially Kennedy) had their collective heads up their collective a$$es? That the majority conservative justices on our hallowed supreme court are a bunch of partisan hacks?

  55. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    John has, for whatever reason, gotten much angrier at the party and now actively supports the liberal cause whereas I’m trying to continue the fight from the inside, if only barely.

    That’s what you keep saying… but your actions say otherwise as you constantly excuse much (not all) of the crazy behavior coming from the GOP side of the aisle.

    I am actually still registered as a Republican – because I still believe in what Republicans USED to represent. But since about 1992, I don’t think I’ve voted for a member of the GOP. I voted for Reagan. Twice. Even Poppa Bush was a better choice to me than Dukakis. But guess what? Poppa Bush couldn’t get nominated in today’s GOP.

    That you still cling to the belief that the GOP actually has some rational, logical, successful plan for governing is what shocks me. Almost everyone in the GOP seems to forget that we tried the grand GOP plan for 6 solid years. 2000-2006 gave us EVERYTHING the GOP said would create a booming economy: Lower Taxes. Less regulation. More freedom for Wall Street. Strong militarisic foreign policy. All the things we’d been hearing we needed from the GOP for years.

    And?

    It took us into the biggest recession since the Great Depression. And now you want to go back to those policies? More Tax Cuts? Less regulation for Wall Street? Less of a safety net for the poorest in our country? Less Healthcare of people?

    WTF, James? What is it that you think the GOP has to offer that is so great, so different than 2006?

    Bottom line is that we’re a whole lot better than we were in 2008, and if the GOP had any kind of desire to actually… you know… govern, we’d be in a much better spot. But they chose to obstruct at all costs, to the point where they even went against bills and policies they themselves supported up until the very moment Obama supported it, then they railed against it.

    So I ask you again…

    W.
    T.
    F?

  56. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I don’t fundamentally disagree with Citizens United. People, individually or collectively, ought to be able to buy political advertising to their heart’s content and limits of their wallet. It’s how free speech is conducted in today’s political arena.

    My problem is with SuperPACs and, especially, the non-disclosure element. More fundamentally, I think the “no coordination” thing is, as Colbert and others have demonstrated, a joke. But the solution to that is to stop the pretense, not the speech. I don’t mind that this ad is being run, just that it’s dishonest.

  57. Lynda says:

    @James Joyner:

    Dr Joyner,
    I read this blog over any other for a reason – although I often disagree with both you and Doug, you try to keep the posts balanced and well-reasoned. Unfortunately I did not find the article “American Politics May Be Nasty But They Started It” up to your usual standard.

    You stated in the article “I do think it’s fair to say that Republicans bear the lion’s share of the blame for the escalation in rhetoric in recent years” but the two recent examples you used were Democrats. Above you say “It’s worth pointing out, too, that I chose those two incidents because they were both fresh in people’s minds”.

    I personally disliked both the “Understands” ad and the Biden “chains” comment for the same reasons as you state. But then again I also disliked the “Obama gutted Welfare reform” ad
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/romney-ad-says-obama-will-gut-welfare-reform/2012/08/07/d9c550a8-e08a-11e1-8fc5-a7dcf1fc161d_blog.html
    and when Sununu said “I wish Obama would learn to be American”
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/07/john-sununu-questions-obamas-americanness-129193.html

    for very similar reasons as the Dem ads/comments. The two Republican incidences were also recent and well covered both in general media and here at OTB.

    Was there a reason you picked the two Democratic ones over the Republican ones?
    Alternatively you could have contrasted the Sununu one with Biden and bolstered your point that the Obama team would have been better rephrasing than doubling down as the Sununu comment has had less life than the “chains” comment.

  58. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t mind that this ad is being run, just that it’s dishonest.

    I, and several others, just threw up a little in our mouths, reading that sentence by you, Dr. Joyner.

    Romney’s campaign has been running dishonest, no, flat out false (yes, LYING) ads against Obama since the GOP primary ended. And not a peep from you. Now, suddenly, you’re against dishonest ads.

    Please….

  59. Moosebreath says:

    @EddieInCA:

    This in spades.

    James, can you point to a Romney ad throughout the entire primary and general election process which was not fundamentally dishonest? I would call most of his ads, from the first one where he truncated a quote from Obama to leave out the part where he was saying it was what McCain said in 2008, to the most recent claim that Obama is letting poor people on welfare without forcing them to seek work, far more dishonest than the one you are exorcised about.

  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    People, individually or collectively, ought to be able to buy political advertising to their heart’s content and limits of their wallet. It’s how free speech is conducted in today’s political arena.

    Yes, indeed. The individual poor citizen out to be able to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of political ads just as Rupert Murdoch, Sheldon Adelson, Facebook, or Bank of America to are able to. The fact that in reality he can’t, and that therefore his supposed right of free speech is practically useless, shouldn’t really enter into it. Or, as has been said better before me:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” — Anatole France.

  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: James, I follow you up to a point, and that point is where Sheldon Adelson has more freedom of speech than I.

    People, individually or collectively, ought to be able to buy political advertising to their heart’s content and limits of their wallet. It’s how free speech is conducted in today’s political arena.

    It sounds good in theory, and it might be a lot of things, but free speech ain’t one of them. It is the supression, of the suggestion of free speech. Google Sheldon Adelson. How many hits do you get? Google Tom Panian. How many hits do you get?

    Clearly, even OzarkHillbilly in combination with tom P, I am sorely lagging. I can not match his megaphone. That is not free speech, it is me drowned out.in a cacophony of noise. Surely the founding fathers did not fore see this.

    And yeah, I just bared my soul.

    Ps: I just googled my name for the first time in a long time and found out that my name sake is a hero. Never met him, but he must have been a member of the fabled “Pittsburgh Panians” whom I never met any of, but heard a few stories of (my grandfather’s brother came over some time after he did and settled there). Weird. My uncle on my my mother’s side was the “war hero” in our family, got writ up in a teen age book called “Frogmen of World War II” (I just googled, nothing tickled my memory bones, but he was the sh!t). My old man? He just flew a couple dozen missions over Japan, almost got shot down on more than one occasion, was rewarded the Air Medal and was notable mostly for surviving the war (OK, ok, 2 wars)

  62. fred says:

    HaHa…you agree with morning joe so that means you are right…..? LOL…..too funny……

  63. @James Joyner:

    I’m trying to continue the fight from the inside, if only barely.

    I think that if you found Ryan’s “zero tax for Mitt Romney” plan “a good starting point” then you are a little further inside than that.

  64. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think @Dan Nexon makes a perfectly valid point and that there’s a debate to be had on the nature of the health care system. But it’s not Romney’s doing.

    You do understand that Romney is campaigning on a pledge to abolish Obamacare , which would help people who are in the same position as the Soptics were in after the Bain-run company went bankrupt, right?

    Is that so difficult to “understand?”

  65. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    My problem is with SuperPACs and, especially, the non-disclosure element.

    I wonder which political party has absolutely blocked any attempt to include a disclosure requirement on campaign financing. The name begins with R … it’ll come to me….

  66. John Cole says:

    My complete issue is the statement that Biden is telling black people that Romney wants them in chains. It was a mixed audience, and he was using a well known metaphor that Romney and company have used about “unchaining” and “unshackling” and “unburdening” Wall Street and the job creators. Biden riffed on that, stating they want to take the chains off Wall Street and put them on you.

    To extrapolate that into “Biden is telling black people Romney wants them in actual chains” is Limbaughesque, at best. And I don’t give a shit what Morning Joe or Artur Davis or Herman Cain think.

    I write off a lot of this as “John Being John.”

    Well, yes. What frustrates me more than the idiots who believe all the crap the current GOP spews is the folks I think are good people (like, for example, James), who consistently point out all the nonsense of the GOP but just can’t take that extra step to realize the entire party has lost their minds. It drives me nuts.

    I can’t think of one reason why electing Mitt Romney would be good for America, and I bet James can’t either, particularly because as a foreign policy expert, he knows what a disaster another go-around with a neocon President would be, yet for some reason, he keeps on keeping on thinking he can reform the GOP, when everyone else who thought that as an elected member of congress has been run out of office by an extremist tea party candidate.

  67. mattb says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    James, don’t forget that Cole also said that he liked you as a person. And Doug too. Now that he’s called you a goddamned liar, do you like him as a person too?

    Not for nothing, but I’ve found that my closest friends and the people I most respect are often the first to call me a “goddamn liar” on certain things.

    While it’s true that sometimes discourse can get extra heated — especially with the affect-free environment of a comment thread — its good to have these sort of passionate discussions between people who are actually engaging with each other.

    What makes OTB and BallonJuice so great is the fact that the authors not only particular in these threads but are also willing to publicly engage in these discussions across the sites.

    I’ll also note that when these sort of cross discussions happen the results are entirely different than when there’s a back and forth with some other Blogs/Bloggers (lookin’ at you Daily Caller and HotAir folks!)

  68. Kolohe says:

    Meh, Balloon Juice hates everything and everyone. They turn on their own faster than those little gray aliens from Galaxy Quest.

  69. @Kolohe:

    Technically, they were natives.

  70. bk says:

    @Lynda:

    although I often disagree with both you and Doug, you try to keep the posts balanced and well-reasoned.

    Right. If by “balanced”, you mean “both sides do it” (when they don’t), well then ok.

  71. dollared says:

    @James Joyner: Seriously? “Morning Joe” is on MSNBC, and so that makes it a liberal show? Jesus, I had no idea you were that dishonest.

  72. Lynda says:

    @bk:
    Right. If by “balanced”, you mean “both sides do it” (when they don’t), well then ok.

    Yes that is what I meant by balanced – isn’t ‘both sides do it’ the trademark post at OTB?

    And I agree with it in theory. Where I often disagree with James/Doug is the frequency and severity that both sides stray off the virtuous path in practice. Many of the regular commentators seem to share this view and the back and forth in the comment section is why I enjoy reading both the original posts and the comments.

    If I wanted “Republicans are unfit to govern in D minor with violin solo” there are lots of websites I could visit but I find them at best an echo chamber and at their worst as intellectually vacuous as Fox. At least the attempt at balance from James/Doug makes me challenge my gut reactions. I imagine it is why some conservatives watch and enjoy the Daily Show.

    It appears you disagree with the very premise of ‘both sides do it’ – I’d be genuinely interested in why then you are a frequent reader/commentator?
    I doubt it is a case of http://laughingsquid.com/someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet/

  73. Katharsis says:

    @Lynda:

    We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_print.html

    They say it better than I can. Both Sides Do It is forty years too long.

  74. Lynda says:

    @Katharsis:
    Thanks for the link Katharsis, I think it offers valid advice to journalists as does this one
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/what-to-do-with-political-lies/261189/

    But James isn’t a journalist – as he says on another thread, “OTB is a political blog. We make no pretense whatsoever to neutrality; the whole point of the enterprise is to present our opinions.”

    In science when you have a question you collect information, form a hypothesis, design an experiment to test the hypothesis, analyze the experimental data to form a conclusion then report results for peer review. At each stage you try and avoid confirmation bias such as cherry picking data or leaping to conclusions not supported by the data.

    I try to form my political views in a similar way although obviously hampered by not being able to lock politicians in a lab and conduct experiments on them.

    I get my political news (data) from journalists and form an initial opinion (hypothesis). I then use opinion blogs like OTB as a form of peer review – check I have not missed any data or that there is an equally valid way of interpreting that data. The OTB authors can usually be relied on not egregiously distort the news but still draw different conclusions from myself. I appreciate reading those opinions (which are often “both sides do it”) and the resultant comments as a way of avoiding confirmation bias.

    My initial post was because I thought James was blatantly cherry picking data and was interested why – especially since if he had presented the Biden/Sununu comments side by side it would have bolstered his conclusion that Biden should apologize.

  75. Ken says:

    @John Cole: I can’t think of one reason why electing Mitt Romney would be good for America, and I bet James can’t either, particularly because as a foreign policy expert, he knows what a disaster another go-around with a neocon President would be, yet for some reason, he keeps on keeping on thinking he can reform the GOP,

    Even better, he will almost certainly vote for Romney, regardless of how bad a candidate he is or how bad a president he (JJ) thinks Mitt will be.