Politico Ignores Romney's Birtherism While Calling Bain Attacks 'Personal'
Okay, let me get this straight. Apparently, according to Politico's John Harris, running ads against Mitt Romney for things that are true, like the fact that he is out of touch with most Americans and their struggles and that his time at Bain Capital just reinforces that, is somehow "personal," but Romney running lying ads about President Obama supposedly gutting welfare work requirements, calling him a "food stamp president" and diving into birtherism is somehow either not "personal" or it's not even worth mentioning during this segment on The Chris Matthews Show.
Here's Harris responding to Matthews asking him about their recent article: Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks.
MATTHEWS: You know I thought John that Bill Clinton gave a heck of a punching kind of speech. He had every one of the Republican points, punched back at them. And the question is, how negative are they going to get? You say they're running... in your recent piece at Politico, you say that the Obama campaign is running a personal assault on whether this guy Romney is even qualified to be president.
HARRIS: The essence of what Obama's doing is to say Mitt Romney is just at a personal level not credible as a potential president of the United States because of his personal values – too greedy – his personal experience is too disconnected from the concerns of average Americans.
I'm not trying to give a Good Housekeeping seal of approval to the Romney campaign. They too are running an intensely negative campaign. It's not based so much on Obama's personal characteristics, his values, or that he is somehow, in some sort of fundamentally way... fundamental way, corrupt. Where as, the Obama people are calling Romney a charlatan, suggesting that he might be a felon because of how he's handled the Bain issue as Stephanie Cutter did. That's aimed at tearing him down personally.
But I don't have any sympathy for Romney. That's what he did in the Republican... he did that to Santorum and he did it to Gingrich.
The Politico article does admit that there are a bunch of personal attacks that have been waged against President Obama from others on the right, but they ignore or lie about the fact that many of them have come directly from the Romney campaign and they also give Romney a pass for not doing more to refute those on the right who have been happy to push those lies or to stand up to the extremists in his own party.
And as my fellow C&L'er Karoli pointed out, there seems to be a huge double standard on what should be called "negative" as opposed to being called "effective" when it comes to campaign ads and rhetoric.
First of all, what they call negative attacks is subject to some analysis. It's not negative to ask for tax returns because the ONE YEAR Romney supplied raises more questions than answers. And it's not negative to hammer him for arrogantly refusing to supply them.
It's not negative to portray him as the out-of-touch rich dude that he is.
And it's not negative to point out that he supports tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the middle class. It may be inconvenient, but it's not negative.
Negative is what Romney did to his opponents in the primaries with the help of his billionaire buddies.
So what we can take away from the Politico hackery is this: There's a different standard for negativity when it comes to the Obama campaign than there is for the Romney campaign, which is how they can conclude that the Obama camp has launched more negative attacks.
They're confusing the term "negative" with what they really are: "effective."
Joshua Holland over at AlterNet wrote a really great column which discusses what we just saw here as well, which he wrote last month, but perfectly describes what we're getting from the hacks over at Politico as we saw here: Media Hacks: Why Our National Press Corps Is Failing the Public Abysmally:
That has long been the case, but we appear to have entered a new environment, one that Dave Roberts of Grist described as an era of “post-truth politics” – “a political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy (the substance of legislation).” The Romney-Ryan campaign appears to have embraced this reality, running a campaign that is unprecedented in its mendacity. While reporters and fact-checkers can -- and do -- highlight the inaccuracies of specific claims, it's beyond the reach of mainstream journalism to point out the pattern for fear of appearing “biased.”
Consider a few examples of how our feckless fourth estate has performed during this cycle. We have Paul Ryan constantly being referred to as both a “serious” person, and a “fiscal conservative.” In a fawning profile, the New York Times, which conservatives liken to Pravda, told its readers that Ryan “has become a particular favorite of — and powerful influence on — the intellectuals, economists, writers and policy makers who are at the heart of Washington’s conservative establishment.” The piece characterized him as “an earnestly interested, tactically minded policy thinker, with a deep knowledge of budget numbers.” [...]
Meanwhile, the Romney camp has referred to Obama as a “food-stamp president,” and is running a series of dog-whistle ads claiming – also entirely falsely – that Obama is rolling back the Clinton era work reforms. The ads are reminiscent of the infamous “White Hands” ads Jesse Helms ran in 1990. Political scientist Michael Tesler studied voters' reactions to seeing Romney's first welfare ad, and found that, “among those who saw it, racial resentment affected whether people thought Romney will help the poor, the middle class, and African-Americans.”
The political press seems almost allergic to diving into the policy weeds to offer readers a sense of what politicians would actually do if elected. After Paul Ryan appeared – with his mother – at a Florida retirement community, the Washington Post quoted one of the attendees saying, "I personally like his plan, because at 73, it really wouldn’t affect me... It’s something for the future. Under Obama, I just have too many problems — with the money he took away, the $716 billion."
Go read the rest since he delves into wonderfully just what's wrong with the hacks like Harris who do their best to play the false equivalency game as we saw him doing here.