Lying as a political strategy
i drove nearly 1000 miles yesterday, traveling all thru North Carolina as part of this sales trip. It is rare that i spend so much time alone and so much listening to the mainstream media, in this case satellite radio. There was lots of coverage of the US presidential campaign, Todd Akin’s clever views on abortion and biology and even a fair amount on Mitt Romney’s campaign ads claiming Obama gutted the work requirement for Welfare. The mainstream media and independent fact checker identify these claims as completely false. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation says the ads are bogus. And as much as i dislike him, Newt Gingrich admits there is “no proof” of the ads claim. Despite this, the Romney campaign continues to run the ads.
Politicians lie, no one is surprised here. But this approach seems to set the bar especially low. The entire story is made up, what did happen on the date specified by the Romney folx in the ad was that the feds gave additional flexibility to states to run their own programs which are designed to maintain the work requirement as part of welfare. Interestingly, republican governors were part of the group which asked for this flexibility granted by the Obama administration in the first place. No exemptions have yet been granted, despite the fact that the Romney ad claims the work requirement is already gone. Some conservatives “fear” this is what will happen, but there is a difference between reporting a fear and reporting an event. Unsurprisingly, Fox News does not weigh in on whether the claims are true, only reporting that camp Obama says they are not.
Mitt Romney has certainly been challenged on the veracity of this ad and chooses to continue to run it. This is a racist ploy. The black president is handing out money to principally black welfare queens who are sitting around watching TV eating bon bons, while hard working white people are taxed to pay for these bon bons.
Romney knew the Obama camp would cry foul. And they knew that the media is going to notice this lie and report on it. And they know being caught lying is not especially good for a politicians career or electability. And even knowing all this, they think this is an effective strategy.
Perhaps this is because they think they have so much more money than Obama that they will win the air war by flooding the desired markets with their ads. Perhaps they are looking at the poll numbers and feeling pretty desperate and want to try something. Perhaps they think no one cares about politicians lying anymore and they can get an easy pass on this.
My liberal optimism thinks the mainstream media will jump on Romney for this distortion. That the calculus will be wrong and full on fabrications (which of course Romney is claiming Obama is guilty of) will be a net negative and seal the Republicans tomb. My radical pessimism thinks this is the brave new world of unlimited campaign funding and that if you have enough money you can buy your lies into widespread belief and win elections with them.
One of the interesting things i discovered while researching for this post is that apparently Fox News bid to open its own station in Canada was blocked, because the Canadians have a law which prohibits news stations from lying. I have not been able to verify claims that similar laws blocked Fox News in Sweden and Mexico.