Election 2012

Romney’s Video is Nothing Like the President’s 2008 ‘Cling’ Video

When then-Senator Obama was caught on tape by an industrious Huffington Post blogger, his remarks contained a bit of disdain, but weren't terribly false or egregious. In fact, he was quite accurate about something that most top level Democrats don't often say out loud.

He said that many Americans tend to vote against their own economic best interest because Republicans appeal to their religion, gun rights and fear of outsiders. Fact. Republicans were doing precisely that in 2008, they did it in 2004 and they're doing it right now. They've demagogued guns, God and brown people for decades. It's the central tactic in the Republican electoral strategy -- one they've admitted to and even apologized for.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, completely distorted and misrepresented the facts around the the 2009 "47% of Americans don't pay taxes" claim. If you happen to be elderly or unemployed, you're not suddenly an Obamabot, nor are you deliberately avoiding employment in order to pick up some free Obama Bucks. He also conflated the 47% with Obama supporters, which is also highly inaccurate according to the map I posted in my column this morning.

Yes, both candidates have been secretly caught on video. Shocker considering that everyone has a video camera in their phones these days. But the veracity of what they said was vastly different.

Jonathan Chait has more on this topic.

  • KatieAnnieOakley

    Obama was still out there, campaigning for their votes.

    Mitt just wrote them off entirely. BIG DIFFERENCE.

  • willpen

    Thank you Bob for bringing this up. I have been chomping at the bit screaming about this ridiculous false equivalency crap.

    While both these candidates were definitely speaking an unfettered truth, the difference is that what Obama was trying to relay was the pain and frustration that every day Americans felt while they watched their government and country in a free fall. He spoke the truth as he very well may have felt it many times himself. I so hated the fact that he ever had to walk that statement back since I thought that it hit a nerve that so ran through the heart of this country. He was not trying to denigrate the people who he was referring to. He was trying to just explain the pain.
    Romney’s truth, on the other hand, may have also come from a deeper guttural feeling about the direction that this country was taking but in contrast it stands out as being mean spirited and disrespectful and I think that is where the differences lie. Obama’s comment may have seemed disrespectful as well but it came from a place of having been there. Where Romney’s came from a place of never having been there and never wanting to be there.

  • Nefercat

    And another thing, I’m getting tired of the idea that the only way people contribute to society and this country is by paying taxes.

    People contribute not only their money (including federal income taxes withheld and later refunded) but also their time, talents, energy, blood, toil, and even lives by volunteering or working for their schools, communities, charitable organizations, churches, and even the armed forces. They are Americans.

    They run for office in villages, towns, cities, and counties, often working for a pittance, and while still working their day jobs. They are Americans.

    After retirement, many people keep working because they want to or need to. Many people are happy to have more time to contribute to their communities, continuing the volunteer work from their younger years. They are Americans.

    They are not looking for “free stuff”, “handouts”, or for someone else to take care of them. They are not lazy. They are We, the People.

    How dare you, Mitt Romney? How dare you? How dare you for even one moment think that you are qualified to be president of this country and its people?

  • http://twitter.com/KQuark KQµårk™

    Absolutely in fact President Obama sympathized with the people he was talking about and never gave any indication he did not want to be their president. Only the feeble minded would say both situations were the same.

    • Lavander

      “Only the feeble minded would say both situations were the same.”

      What does that say about the beltway media that’s about to do just that in the next few days?

      • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

        What does that say about the beltway media that’s about to do just that in the next few days?

        Nothing we didn’t already know.

        • bphoon

          Or, everything we need to know.

      • stacib23

        See Chuck Todd.

      • incredulous72

        beltway media = feeble-minded nincompoops.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    And another thing….

    I’m getting a little weary of this false dichotomy (and false choice) between a “government-dominated society” (a phrase with no meaning whatsoever) and one where “free people can pursue their dreams,” another hunk of vacuous pablum.

    There’s nothing “government-dominated” about the U.S. in 2012, the Obama presidency or Obama’s own vision that is any more “government-dominated” than any other time in recent history. Indeed, when was America more “government-dominated” than in the 1950s, which so many GOP fans seem to want to go back to? When were we more “government-dominated” than from 2002-2008, with two wars and a PATRIOT Act going on? Neither is anyone today any less “free” to “pursue their dreams” of wealth and power than they have been since WWII. What, does simply, merely having laws in this country now suddenly make it “government-dominated”? This dichotomy, and each characterization therewithin, is pure bullshit.

    The fact is we can have, do have, have always had, and will always have, both. This is not a choice between “government” and “freedom” (or “free enterprise”) because you can’t have the latter without the former. This is a choice between a lawful society and a lawless one. Between a “free enterprise system” where people can “pursue their dreams” and “achieve success” lawfully, and a “free enterprise system” indistinguishable from organized crime. Between a “free enterprise system” where everyone who participates in it has rights and responsibilities, and a “free enterprise system” where the owners have all the rights and the workers have all the responsibilities. One where people are “free” to “pursue their dreams” without being abused, exploited, discriminated against, put in danger, maimed, poisoned or killed, and one where the owners are free to abuse, exploit, discriminate, endanger, maim, poison and kill at their whim and pleasure. A modern first-world nation that sees to its collective needs, or a third-world banana republic where a handful of plutocrats own everyone and everything.

    • Brutlyhonest

      You’re spot-on, as usual, Graf. But as you know, reality is irrelevant. A smart man told me years ago that “words mean stuff.” Inelegant as that statement is, it is absolutely true and the folks behind the right-wing party and the right-wing propaganda machine have no qualms manipulating people with greed and selfishness.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    I really hate this “47%” meme with a passion. Here’s why:

    The correct formulation is, “47% of households did not owe federal income taxes in 2009.”

    The lie is, “47% of Americans do not pay taxes.”

    See the difference? The key to every sentence is the verb. Here, “did not owe” becomes “do not pay.”

    Change the verb “owe” to “pay,” implying wrongdoing. “Did not owe” means they didn’t do anything wrong; the law did not require anything of them. “Did not pay” sounds like stealing.

    Then change the past tense (“did not pay”) to present tense (“do not pay”), drop the adverbial modifier (“in 2009″), and thereby turn a one-time event into a perpetual condition.

    At this point, the changes in the subject and object (“households” to “Americans”, “federal income taxes” to “taxes”) are almost immaterial. The formulation is actively dishonest.

    And forget about the idiocy of the idea that all non-tax-paying Americans are Democrats/liberals/Obama voters, and all tax-paying Americans are Republicans/conservatives/Romney voters. This is just more self-congratulation and resentment from a cohort that no longer has anything else to cling to.

    • Not Sayin

      Beautifully put – that needs to be on the front page everywhere.

  • Not Sayin

    With the Romney campaign, the great divide between the vast number of people whoonly parrot shallow, misinformed rhetoric and those capable of rational thought and reasonable discourse just got a whole bunch wider.

  • bphoon

    Chait’s article nicely makes the contrast between the two in language most anyone (with a couple of brain cells rubbing together) can understand. He skips over one point, though, that I think makes a big difference when it comes to how the right wing propagates the 47% lie: while he rightly points out that the lie is that “47% of people don’t pay federal income taxes”, it’s a distinction that people like Erick Erickson make in order to be “truthful” or “accurate”. However, because, as Chait points out, people conflate “federal income taxes” with “federal taxes” or just “taxes”, the lie becomes “47% of people pay no federal taxes (or, “no taxes” at all).” The propaganda trick that Chait talks about is thus successful and that’s the message people hear.

  • Ned F

    Mitt has accomplished to piss off and offend nearly the entire world during this campaign. With today’s video release, we can add the Palestinians to the list along with the Chinese, the Russians, the British, the Mexicans and at least 47% of Americans, and he’s not even President yet. Am I missing anyone?

    • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

      You forgot Poland.

      • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

        Crap. That doesn’t really work, does it? Damn you, George W. Bush meme!

    • Victor_the_Crab

      What about… CANADA?!! Blame Canada!

  • i_am_allwrite

    Also, Obama didn’t say he didn’t need to care about those people.