In his 2008 acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president, Barack Obama might have been forecasting his own future when he said:
If you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
That is precisely the game plan he has adopted for his re-election campaign (that plus running on the record of predecessor Bill Clinton).
The sad part—sad for America, not just Republicans—is that the negative ads are working. USNews & World Report notes that an attack ad released by Team Obama on July 14 so resonated among independent voters that Romney’s approval rating has fallen 13 points since its release. The ad is a collection largely of lies and half-truths—and that’s according to a source friendly to the White House. About the only thing that can be truthfully gleaned from the ad, which features Romney singing “America the Beautiful,” is that he is a lousy singer.
The spot, which is here, opens with the an on-screen quote attributed somehow to both the Los Angeles Times in 2000 and the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1993 and 2002 that reads: “In business, Mitt Romney’s firms shipped jobs to Mexico. And China.” Of the claim, PolitiFact writes that “one of the company’s [sic] under Bain’s watch—Modus Media—created jobs in Mexico and China” but adds “there’s no clear evidence that the Chinese jobs were transferred from the United States.” The writers further posit, “Looking at all the evidence made public so far, we do not think Romney was actively involved in the day-to-day management of Bain after 1999.” In short, the allegation is a lie.
Another claim in the ad—that “as governor, Romney outsourced jobs to India”—is rated half true, while a third (that Romney has money invested in offshore bank accounts) is deemed true, though the Romney camp has openly conceded that the former governor has investments in the Cayman Islands.
Some observers will say “So what? All politicians lie.” That’s undoubtedly true, but Barack Obama isn’t just any politician. He presented himself four years ago as that rare statesman who rises above it all—a man who would elevate the dialog beyond mere partisan politics and change the way business was conducted inside the Beltway.
He is the same man who recently lamented that “Washington feels as broken as it did four years ago” and that he has not “been able to change the atmosphere here in Washington.” When asked if he shared the blame for this failure, he told his interviewer, Charlie Rose, that he “underestimated the degree to which in this town politics trumps problem solving.” The air date of this interview was July 15, the day after the release of the “singing Romney” attack ad, which message “he approved.”
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