Republicans Say Obama Called Americans “Lazy,” Except He Didn’t
Another bad meme from the GOP.
A remark made by President Obama during the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference is being used by Republican Presidential candidates to attack the President:
A video clip of President Barack Obama calling America “a little bit lazy” is quickly becoming a focus of Republican campaigns, and GOP operatives say it will get plenty of play not only on the presidential battlefield but also in down-ballot congressional races.
Obama was talking about America’s pursuit of foreign investment, but the context may not matter as much as the punch line.
“Can you believe that? That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy?” Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said in a campaign ad released Wednesday. “That’s pathetic.”
Rival Mitt Romney struck in less expensive fashion on Tuesday: “Sometimes, I just don’t think that President Obama understands America,” he said at a campaign event.
One tier down, several Republican congressional candidates, including Senate hopefuls from swing states, such as Heather Wilson of New Mexico and George Allen of Virginia, are already using the comment on the trail.
While it took the word “lazy” a few days to amble into the political sphere — Obama was speaking at last weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Hawaii — it is now spreading across the campaign landscape on winged feet. Republicans say it’s another example in a troubling trend of the president trash-talking his own country, and they warn that the video is now sitting in the vault, ready to be rolled out for campaign ads at all levels next fall. Moreover, some Democratic strategists privately concede that it was a bad moment for the president, even if it’s harder to pin the remark on other Democrats.
“You will definitely see more of it,” said Carl Forti, a former top official at the National Republican Congressional Committee who is a founder of political consulting firm Black Rock Group. “It’s definitely something campaigns will use.”
Here’s the Rick Perry ad that this has inspired:
The problem is that the ad, and the new Republican meme, are a pretty clear distortion of what the President actually said:
The full context of Obama’s remarks made Saturday during a meeting of CEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn’t suggesting that at all.
Boeing CEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by some countries of “impediments to investment” in the U.S.
Obama replied that “we’ve been a little bit lazy” about actively trying to attract private foreign investors to U.S. soil — referring broadly to American government and business sectors, not the American people themselves.
Obama’s comments in full:
“I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture.
But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America. And so one of things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they’re seeking assistance from us, to go out there and make it easier for foreign investors to build a plant in the United States and put outstanding U.S. workers back to work in the United States of America.
And we think that we can do much better than we’re doing right now. Because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor comes in and they’ve got to navigate not only federal rules, but they’ve also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own sets of interests. Being able to create if not a one-stop shop, then at least no more than a couple of stops for people to be able to come into the United States and make investments, that’s something that we want to encourage.”
That’s not calling the American people lazy. That’s saying that we as a country, businesses and government, have been complacent in promoting investment in America abroad. You can criticize that comment for suggesting that business and government should be involved in some kind of partnership, but that’s a different argument. Perry’s ad is misleading, deceptive, and about as vapid and empty as the rest of his campaign has become.
This is part of a broader pattern we’ve seen over the past four years or so. Republicans have said virtually since the day that he entered office that the President has gone around the world “apologizing for America,” for example, except, as I’ve noted before, there’s absolutely no support for that argument. There are plenty of reasons to oppose this President. I could come up with a boatload of them. Making up nonsense, taking words out of context, and deliberating editing video to make it appear that someone said something they didn’t is stupid and sophomoric.
…and is widely done by both sides.
Then the answer is for responsible people is to condemn it when both sides do it.
Condemn it? Campaign managers know the intelligence of the voters. “Let’s see, I can condemn it, or get my boss into office…I think I’ll go with item ‘B'”. It’s quite high-handed to say that ‘this is wrong’, but, like all attack ads (universally condemned but effectively used), the ends justify the means….if you’re working a campagin.
Oh, now there’s an effective counterargument…obviously elementary school wasn’t a complete waste…well, the playground anyway…
In other words, campaign managers think the American people are stupid, so they insult them by sending them a distorted message about the President supposedly insulting them…
and here my meaing is twisted out of context.
… so lets condemn that. I made an observation, there was no counterargument or justification for the compaign ad. Of course I shouldn’t try to confuse An Interested Party with facts.
@Doug Mataconis: I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
That may be true historically, but if Obama’s been running ads twisting Rick Perry’s words, I haven’t seen them.
Indeed, I suspect that when Obama is running ads against Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or whoever the Republicans settle on for the nomination, he won’t have to lie to make them look bad. He’ll just have to quote accurately.
@Herb: What adds, what do they say, and if there are any, are they run by the Democratic party or its allies?
@Herb: I don’t think Obama would be running ads against any specific candidate yet, as his opponent hasn’t been selected yet, and prematurely attacking anyone would likely elevate the status of that individual. I was speaking of past campaigns in general, though I have little doubt as to whether it will occur in the 2012 election cycle.
@rodney dill: “though I have little doubt as to whether it will occur in the 2012 election cycle. ”
Me either. Dishonest ads are part of the trade, and the likelihood of “both sides” engaging in them is 100%.
But, again, none of that changes the fact that the best way to hit Mitt Romney is splice together some of his flip-flops. The best way to get at Perry is to show the “oops” clip. Cain? Show the Libya video. Bachmann? Put her on the cover of Newsweek. Gingrich? Mention Fannie Mae.
That’s not to say that the Dems are pure as snow and would never (EVER) lie. It’s just that in this case…the truth hurts.
@Herb: One thing the debates are doing is providing a lot of ammo to the Democrats, even without taking quotes out of context.
It does seem that the party that is behind is the one most likely start to distort or twist the truth. The Democrats will have little incentive to utilize misleading ads, unless a contender makes a lot of headway against an Obama lead.
>and is widely done by both sides.
I agree with you. I have never hesitated to criticize Democrats when I’ve felt they were being dishonest–as in the common distortion of McCain’s “100 years in Iraq” remark from 2008.
But why do you feel compelled to respond to every falsehood on the Republican side by saying “Well the other side does it too”? Why are you so obsessed with always scoring points? Just admit Republicans are being dishonest now, and call it a day. When and if Dems do something similarly dishonest, you can point it out then.
Doug doesn’t hesitate to criticize Democrats–if anything, I think he often strives too hard for evenhandedness, sometimes implying equivalence between the sides where none exists.
I was just impressed that Rick Perry could actually string a couple sentences together without stumbling. He’s got my vote, derp.
“They did it too!!” seems to be the battle cry of the personal responsibility set…
Widely does mean Republican’s besides Perry, as well as the Democrats and other parties. (and other races other than Presidential). I don’t even respond to most posts about Republican behavior, let alone with ‘The other side does that too.” That’s a pretty far exaggeration of the truth on your part, though no doubt I have made that observation from time to time.
There’s points? How do you get them?
I thought Doug already did that. Where did I say I disagreed with him?
I’ll determine what parts of a post or comments I want to address or comment on, thank you. It is a free country after all.
First it was Obama is apologizing for the United States meme.
Now there’s this line of BULLSHIT.
And along the line we have had socialism, and fascism, and death panels, and birtherism, and the stimulus didn’t create jobs.
Not to mention all the crap that doesn’t apply directly to Obama – like tax cuts paying for themselves, and marriage equality leading to man-on-dog sex, and WMD in Iraq, and enhanced interrogation isn’t torture, and the CRA caused the economic crash, and Reagan cut taxes, and on, and on, and on.
If you have to make all this shit up to support your ideology…it’s probably just is not very good ideology to begin with. Just a thought for all you wingnuts who can’t think for yourselves.
As Obama said about the GOP and their 657 debates held so far:
“…We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim…we won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop….and people can make up their own minds.”
>Widely does mean Republican’s besides Perry, as well as the Democrats and other parties.
Then what did you mean by “both sides”?
@Kylopod: As we’re largely a two party system my phrasing did follow along those lines and I did mainly intend to mean Democrats and Republicans (or liberals and conservatives if you wish). I just don’t exempt other political parties or entities from stooping to this behavior. My comment was more a jaded observation of the political process than a justification for doing this.
(‘All parties’ or ‘all sides’ would probably have been more correct phrasing)
@rodney dill: “My comment was more a jaded observation of the political process than a justification for doing this.”
Except not everybody does “this”. As Doug points out, the GOP aren’t distorting or mischaracterizing something Obama said to make his position look as bad as possible. That’s what the Dems did to Newt on the whole “wither on the vine” thing about Medicare and that IS perfectly traditional politics. The GOP is just making shit up, otherwise known as lying. They’re lying about what Obama says to deceive people about what he believes.
Wasn’t there a Republican/conservative who said that Americans were lazy, though? Or that we were whiners? I can’t remember who it was, exactly (part of me wants to say Clint Eastwood, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.)
Yes, the irony here is that it’s a standard GOP claim to assert that a significant portion of the US population IS, in fact, a bunch of lazy parasites.
Not so much irony as projection;
In the 1% world, making money without working for it or carrying risk is considered a virtue, something to brag about.
Thus the constant non-scandals of no-bid contracts, heads-I-win tails-the-taxpayers-lose deals in everything from banking to military procurement.
If there are sniveling whining parasites they are found on Wall Street.
Perry Re: Obama on
Hannity’sA**wipes show last night:
I guess being abandoned by your father, being raised mostly by your grandparents, relying on food stamps, and paying your way through college with student loans and earned scholarships, is privileged. Especially compared to Perry, who was raised by his parents and forced to spend time at the family hunting lodge…Nigger Rock.
… until they do. (though not usually as blatantly as Perry)
@rodney dill: “Until they do. (though not usually as blatantly as Perry)”
Uh, no. That link shows the Obama campaign doing the traditional sort of distortion and mischaracterization that pretty much everyone does in politics. Unless I missed it, there was no example there of the campaign straight up lying about something McCain didn’t say in order to deceive people that McCain believes something he didn’t believe. The closest is when they try to link McCain to Limbaugh but that guilt by association is NOT what we’re talking about here and even if it were, it is not lying about the much, much more hardline stance against illegal immigration in the Republican party McCain was representing.
Let me give you another example, just so you can’t miss the point. The Obama campaign accusing McCain of opposing stem cell research would be like what we’re talking about… EXCEPT that McCain actually did oppose stem cell research at one time. If McCain had never opposed stem cell research, then saying he did would be just making shit up. But trying to smear him with what he used to believe is just run-of-the-mill politics.
Oh, I get it, what you label distortions and mischaracterizations (deceptions/lies), that you approve of are just politics, and ones you label as “just making shit up” are bad.
I haven’t missed the point, lies are lies.
>Wasn’t there a Republican/conservative who said that Americans were lazy, though? Or that we were whiners?
That was Phil Gramm (“nation of whiners”) who had to leave the McCain campaign over the remark.
Actually the two leaders in the GOP race are bald-faced liars…because what is a flip-flop if not a lie?
Take this from Newt for instance:
“…The individual mandate is fundamentally wrong and unconstitutional…”
From Newt’s “Center For Health Transformation” on Healthcare Reform: “…A mandate is a key element of reform…”
The GOP is so two-faced, so hypocritical, so filled with fallacy that it astounds me anyone would ever consider voting for them. Someone once said: “…It takes a wise man to handle a lie, a fool had better remain honest…” Given that, the GOP might think about trying some honesty.
@rodney dill: “I haven’t missed the point, lies are lies.”
Playing Little Miss Priss doesn’t do anyone any good.
Let me try this again. People are not saints. Expecting them to be saints is a recipe for total disaster. Any system has to be able to distinguish between acceptable levels of unsaintly behavior and bad actions that should and must be considered unacceptable.
Here’s another example. Calling Barack Obama’s policies “socialist” is stupid and innacurate but it is not lying like the “lazy” and “apology” nonsense. He does want and believe in the government having a greater role in the economy than conservatives and he is the head of a party that has generally and traditionally supported more government economic intervention. When you call Barack Obama a “socialist”, you are distorting and mischaracterizing but you are not just making shit up. On the other hand, saying Barack Obama called Americans “lazy” and “apologized” for America when he did neither of those things is flat out lying.
There is no way you’ll ever stop human beings from being unfair to those they disagree with. What you can and must do, in order to prevent civilization from descending into anarchy, is establishing limits withing which such unfairness can be expressed. One of those limits is that you can distort and mischaracterize as long as it’s based on something resembling the truth. What you cannot do is just make shit up.
Do you really feel a need to try and be condescending to make your point?
Then between the two of us, I guess I’m the one that won’t endorse (or at least condone) distortion of the truth, mischaracterization of the truth, and just making things up.
@MBunge: While I generally agree with you, I’m not as forgiving of people who distort. Calling Obama a socialist is a huge stretch. (Obviously, “communist” or “marxist” are even more ridiculous.) Outright lies may be easier to spot, but I think anyone who uses such terms and techniques to deceive people at a base level should be scorned. And yes, I think this happens much more on the Right (politicians, pundits, media), at least on a national level.
@rodney dill: “Do you really feel a need to try and be condescending to make your point?”
Being condescending is the appropriate response to someone who will apparently be disappointed until every politician speaks only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you’re advocating a standard that has never, ever, ever, ever in the history of human existence EVER been adhered to, you might want to reconsider your position.
DONE IN ONE!11!!
This faux equivalence never, ever stops, it’s sickening.
Many many years ago, my dad told me, “If you want to know what the Republicans are up to, just look at what they’re accusing the Democrats of doing.”
Some things never change.
Pssssst! Businesses are made up of people. So is government, after a fashion.
I’m not really disappointed by it. In fact my first response indicated that I even expect it to remain widespread. i just won’t say one type of mis-truth is OK and another type is not. I’ll do like everyone else and try to filter out the truth for myself.
@doubter4444: I could be done now, depends on the one you didn’t ask to stop.
I’m saying – to be very clear (and not trying to be snarky or rude, honestly), that it seems your first thought was “They do it too”.
Not “That sucks, he should be ashamed, but it’s a bad part of the political landscape that is detrimental to the public discourse and misleading representations of this sort, by either side, is reprehensible and should be called out – again, whichever side does it”
That, if I may presume, is the thrust of your following comments (which seem like backpedaling, but whatever).
What set me off, and I’m guessing it’s why the others who called you out also, is that it really seems that the Republican side almost never admit they do it, and when confronted (as in this case) they revert to an “equivalence” argument first, and rarely – (I give you props for doing it) man up.
Great clarity from Doug’s piece on Obama’s ‘lazy’ remark. I hadn’t heard the entire comment, only what was taken out of context. And, I can see the distortion of meaning by some R’s to gain points against the President.
It’s too bad, though, when either side does this, as I think it has a tendancy to backfire. When republicans are caught doing this, it erodes their credibility when they report opposition to what Obama might say in the future, whereas people may tend to assume it’s just another taken-out-of-context breach. And, as Doug noted, there is plenty of honest disagreement with Obama’s policies to be expressed, without resorting to this kind dishonest ploy, as a way to diminish him.
Moral equivalence is something both side of the fence do. However, it doesn’t make it a correct tool to use. As they say, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
For instance, norm does this all the time. For instance, when talking about the ethical/financial oversight problems with Solyndra, he will go into overdrive about the “oil and coal” companies.
It is too bad, that when an ethical/judgement error is committed, the side doing it doesn’t own it. But, then if that happened we wouldn’t have the impasses we do in Congress and everywhere else.
“…there is plenty of honest disagreement with Obama’s policies to be expressed, without resorting to this kind dishonest ploy, as a way to diminish him…”
I only wish I had time to dig thru the archives to find your all of your socialism claims. Hypocritical &%*^&^$.
You are an idiot…sorry…there’s no other response.
The comment to which you refer, and much of Doug’s post, was about the government choosing winners and losers and crony capitalism. Certainly trillions of dollars in government subsidies and support of the fossil fuel industry count as the government choosing winners and losers and crony capitalism.
The closing paragraph of the Doug’s:
My point is that the government has already chosen to aid one industry at the expense of others. My point is that the fossil fuel industry operates on a field that is not level…and in no way represents a free-market. And it is at the expense of the taxpayers. And it far exceeds anything that may or may not have happend at Solyndra. You may want to look into the Minerals Management Service…but try an unbiased source…not Drudge or some of the other wingnuts you love so.
You clearly have trouble with reading comprehension…I suggest remedial classes.
Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please: Tonight, the roll of Jay Tea will be played by Rodney Dill.
@rodney dill: “i just won’t say one type of mis-truth is OK and another type is not.”
And as I said, playing Little Miss Priss doesn’t do anyone any good. There is a HUUUUUGE difference between taking some fact and twisting it and distorting it almost beyond recognition and just making shit up. One can be discussed and debated. The other cannot.
And neither I nor anyone else has said certain types of mistruths are “OK”. It is vital to distinguish, however, between bad behavior our political system can tolerate and bad behavior it cannot survive. Politics has always withstood the use of garden variety distortions. It cannot fuction in an environment of bold faced lies.
The funny thing about this lie by the GOP, is they actually think the same thing. They absolutely believe we should do more to attract businesses, namely:
* lowering the corporate tax rate
* reducing regulation
* eliminating the EPA
Now some of those ideas may be dumb, but there is no question the GOP has wanted to do those things for a while to make a more business friendly climate.
It’s probably moot at this point, but my phrasing was “…and is widely done by both sides.” not the “They did it too” which implies being on one side or defending or attacking one side for the other. Though since most people know my predisposition is more conservative they might assume the “They.”
Hmmm.. that’s kind of how I would parse your statement below to mean, but if you want it to mean something else I can be copacetic with it.
@doubter4444: …and I don’t take your comment to be snarky or rude.
@MM: Heh, I’m here all night, try the veal.
@Jeremy: Phil Gramm – “a nation of whiners….”
Take a chill pill.
BTW, I don’t use the word ‘socialism’ in my posts. When I refer to a philosophical bent, like your’s norm, I call it as being the ideology of ‘social progressives.’
Regarding your rant on fossil fuels, the point of ‘moral equivalence’ was that the topic was Solyndra and not the oil companies. Instead of honestly discussing the topic at hand, you took a quick off-ramp to degrade another industry. You would be a more credible poster if you could look at each issue with less of a partisan slant, which apparently is impossible for you to do.
It’s the ENERGY industry you dolt., not another industry.
Not sure why I bother with someone who thinks she knows more about AGW than every qualified scientist. Clearly there is no grasp of reality.
Oh, pardon me, but when someone writes about GOP candidates telling outright lies and you respond with a variation of “everybody does it”, that looks like more than a mere observation…in the future, whenever you are tempted to write about some shenanigan done by the President, his administration, or any Democrat, the immediate response should be, “hey, everybody does it”…
The topic was green energy and the fiscal irresponsibility and cronyism shown a solar manufacturer called Solyndra…not gas and oil companies.
All the names you call people here are readily applied to you.
@An Interested Party:
AS OF 6/2011 THE USA WAS #1.
WTF WAS BHO JR TALKING ABOUT?
That’s not calling the American people lazy. That’s saying that we as a country, businesses and government, have been complacent in promoting investment in America abroad.
AS THE USA IS #1, I REPEAT MY QUESTION:
WTF WAS BHO JR TALKING ABUT?
AND HOW CAN YOU DEFEND OBAMA WHEN HE’ MAKING AN IDIOTIC AND FALLACIOUS STRAW MAN ARGUMENT?
DOES OBAMA EVER MAKE AN ARGUMENT THAT IS NOT A STRAW MAN ARGUMENT>
YES. ONCE OR TWICE. MAYBE.
YOU AND OBAMA ARE BOTH IDIOTS.
Caps lock fail…anyway, if I understand correctly you don’t think the USA should be doing anything to encourage foreign companies to invest? And how was this statement worth getting all worked up over? He said we have the best workers and need to do more so foreign companies want to do business in the USA, possibly seems like the most innocuous statement ever.
Obama sucks, is lazy and is living off the government.
lol, it is good to see logic used on this site once in a while. bravo!!!!