August 10, 2012

Greg Sargent Gives a Thumbs-Up to Political Dishonesty

Recently, a terribly misleading ad from Priorities USA Action essentially accuses the actions and leadership of Mitt Romney of leading to the death of the wife of a man who used to work for a company taken over by Bain Capital. The ad, which has been proven factually inaccurate by CNN, was given approval by Washington Post Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent despite its inaccuracies. From the post (emphasis added):

Priorities USA Action has released a widely discussed ad that implies Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital is to blame for the death of a laid off steelworker’s wife. I think the ad goes too far…Joe Soptic’s wife died five years after his plant closed. She had her own health insurance — for a time — after he lost his job….But the circumstances of her illness are so unclear…that there’s simply no way to determine whether she would or wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t been fired.

The ad doesn’t quite say outright that Romney is to blame for her death….But the ad could have been a bit more specific in recounting what happened with her illness — and it does imply that she died partly because of Bain, which, again, is unsupportable at best.

The larger story here is this: Even if this ad makes unsupportable charges — and even if you think there’s nothing objectionable about Bain’s conduct — the ad dramatizes a larger story about what has happened to the middle class in this country….Obama believes in aggressive federal action to cushion the blow of market outcomes like the one that hit families like the Soptics with such force. Romney…is promising to roll back government protections for families like theirs. Whatever you think of the ad, that’s the more important larger argument to be having here — and it has been clarified this week.

So let’s get this straight: the ad “is unsupportable at best,” according to Sargent. But that’s acceptable because it clearly defines what the campaigns are about – Obama for greater government protections against “market outcomes,” and Romney for cruelly taking them away. Gotcha.

This is ridiculous on two levels: first, dishonest is dishonest. According to Sargent’s logic, any right-of-center SuperPAC releasing an ad saying Obama hates all unborn babies would be legitimate as long as it highlighted a clarifying discussion on philosophies. An ad saying Obama wants to take all income by all people for federal taxation is acceptable, as long as it leads to a high-profile and clarifying discussion on philosophies. Heck, any amateur blogger could claim that President Obama said he thinks government is more responsible than business owners for the success of their own businesses! (Oh, wait – he did. And I bashed him for it.)

Second, Sargent assumes Obama’s visions of the role of government are actually better for people than that of those who support freer markets. But given how Medicare is increasingly shifting costs to the private sector; how tax bias has led to a very dysfunctional individual insurance market; and how federal and state regulatory, tax, and debt burdens are helping to keep unemployment high, I have my doubts. Additionally, if it weren’t for ineffective federal social welfare and an unconstitutional federal education bureaucracy, perhaps we’d have a work force more able and willing to work, have insurance, and live longer lives.

To me, originally watching the ad with few preconceived notions, it reminded me of the terribly dishonest David Dewhurst ad accusing Texas Senate Republican nominee Ted Cruz of being responsible for a young man’s suicide, or the “Taliban Dan” ad run by then-Rep. Alan Grayson in his failed re-election run in 2010. Dishonesty is dishonesty, especially when it comes to mistreatment of other human beings and/or their deaths. For Sargent, who describes his blog as ““opinionated reporting” from the left,” his approval seems more like “false testimony and an attempt to prop up a failed presidency from the left.”

by @ 4:17 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney
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14 Responses to “Greg Sargent Gives a Thumbs-Up to Political Dishonesty”

  1. Greg Sargent gives a thumbs-up to political dishonesty « The Greenroom Says:

    [...] [Originally published at] [...]

  2. Keith Price Says:

    Forget modifying campaign FINANCE laws. I say we need laws to hold candidates as well as PACs and other supporting groups ACCOUNTABLE for their ads.

    Just like donations must now be reported, I believe all ads must submit the facts that back up their claims and there should be heavy fines and penalties for lies and misrepresentations.

    They can’t be slaps on the wrist, either. Let’s say a particular ad provides the equivalent of a million dollar benefit to their candidate. You won’t discourage such ads with a $100,000 fine. Perhaps the law could require an equal ad buy recanting and correcting.

  3. Keith Price Says:

    It seems obvious that Harry Reid made his fully unsupportable claims with the sole purpose of taking the wind out of the sales of the dismal jobs report. Without his lies, the media would have been talking about the economy and jobs report for the next 7 days. Instead, all they were talking about was Romney’s tax returns.

    Neither he nor Obama care if it’s true or not or if Reid looks bad or not. They don’t care if it hurts Romney in the polls or not. They won that battle because they took control of the message for an entire week or more.

    There should be some accountability.

  4. NY4Romney Says:


    Its a shame we blew our chance to get rid of him. I don’t understand how we let him get reelected.

  5. Jose Says:

    fake but accurate

  6. Matthew Kilburn Says:

    I would give only one caution to Republicans about the “markets vs. Governments” debate: there are things the market is good at, and things its not so good at, and there is no guarantee that the things it is good at are the things we deem to be priorities. Markets are good at allocating capital – perhaps not so good at ensuring that even poor HS dropouts have access to top quality medical care.

    Markets are certainly a useful tool…and we shouldn’t seek to place unnecessary burdens on them, but I sometimes think the right is far too slow to acknowledge when the market isn’t producing the desired outcomes, even when its obvious. Thats what paves the way for, for example, a man who believes birth control to be a fundamental right of citizenship to design healthcare policy.

  7. Keith Price Says:

    6. Matthew, that’s actually true.

    Both sides have to be careful about holding a myopic view of their positions.

    I think one of the biggest points of argument are relating to this:

    …perhaps not so good at ensuring that even poor HS dropouts have access to top quality medical care.

    The argument is not whether or not that’s true (it is) but about who’s responsibility it is to ensure quality care to anyone.

    I believe the core of the liberal philosophy is that it is Government’s responsibility.

    My belief is that it is the individual’s responsibility.

    And if the individual wants top quality care, he probably shouldn’t be dropping out of HS.

    And, he or she suffers from that bad decision, well, that was his choice. And, he or she serves as a potent example to others who might be considering dropping out. Maybe that suffering provides the motivation and incentive to work just a bit harder to others so they can get a decent job with decent insurance.

  8. Keith Price Says:

    7. My second line should have began with “However”:

    “However, both sides have to be careful…”

  9. Beth Barnat Says:

    Here is a link to the story about Obama’s visit to Israel and the Wailing Wall while he was visiting there:

    And, of course, the “Obama 2008″ banner was on display at the Wailing Wall the morning Obama visited the wall to place his prayer into a crevice of the Wailing Wall. No respect for a very sacred site of the Jewish people.

    Regarding the prayer – the Obama campaign made it look like an Israeli stole his prayer from the crack in the wall and leaked to the press – only to find out a day (or 2) later that Obama had given a copy of the prayer to the press before leaving his hotel.

  10. Beth Barnat Says:

    Oops … meant to put this article under the Mitt and the Tree Stump post. I’m copying it over there now.

  11. Matthew Kilburn Says:

    “My belief is that it is the individual’s responsibility.
    And if the individual wants top quality care, he probably shouldn’t be dropping out of HS.”

    Not a bad point…but a flawed one. Because the question you’re trying to answer is “who should provide healthcare to a person”, and not “who should provide healthcare to those who, through circumstance or poor decisions, have found themselves unable to provide for themselves.

    As the “let them die!” fiasco demonstrated, stupidity is not something people are willing to consider a capital offense.

  12. Firecracker Says:

    4 — People like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sarah Palin pushed to have a nutcase like Sharron Angle be the Nevada GOP Nominee for U.S. Senate. Nevada had two very respectable candidates run for Senate (Lowden and Tarkanian) but NOOOOOOOOO — they weren’t “pure” or “conservative” enough to pass the Tea Party Purity Test.

    Furthmore, there were a bunch of Mormons in Las Vegas pushing Chad Christensen to be the nominee on account that he too was a Mormon (I am a Mormon living in Las Vegas and I saw this first hand). I even warned some of my friends to forget about Christensen because he had NO CHANCE of winning and that they should back Lowden specifically for the purpose of stopping Angle.

    Again, Reid was elected because the extremists nominated an ill-prepared, completely gaffe prone buffoon as a nominee.

  13. Keith Price Says:

    11. Matthew, the problem is your comment said, “Top Quality Healthcare”. Then you defended it with “let them die!”.

    There’s a wide margin between the best healthcare money can buy and give them nothing and let them die on the street.

    That’s why I began my post with both sides must be careful with extremes.

    Somehow, we need to care for the poor without ENCOURAGING people to be or stay poor. Being poor should be just uncomfortable enough that makes people decide it’s better and easier and healthier and happier to get up and find a job — or to get trained for a better job.

    Instead, we’ve created an environment where the only jobs many of these poor can get would earn them far less money than the government provides them for no work.

    The answer is somewhere between giving the HS dropout the same benefits of the wealthy and giving them nothing so they die.

    BUT, I stand by my belief that when borderline people see the suffering of the lazy or the poor decision-makers, it motivates them to try harder. And, when they see the lazy and the poor decision-makers having an easy life, they are more likely to think, “why bother?”.

  14. Patrick Henry Says:

    6. 11. 13. The issue really is about who provides the care for those who can’t afford it. The answer is not government. It’s not because we don’t want to provide care for them… but it’s because government (especially, and particularly our federal government) is usually incapable of doing so in the long term.

    Who provides the care? We do as individuals and as groups of individuals – which is not the same as government. Government must extract, with the threat of violence, money to provide such care. Individuals offer it up freely and that is where all the difference is in the quality of the care and the attitudes of both parties.

    The Right just needs to do a better job of explaining 1) that the government makes it worse for all and that 2) individuals, churches and other groups do it the best because they actually care.

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