Mitt Romney and Republicans pounced on a deceptively edited video of Barack Obama, never bothering with facts or reality. Now they look like fools. Again.
The epistemic closure of the right wing has almost come full circle now to bite Republicans in the sorry place where they’ve shoved facts aside to further an intellectually dishonest ideological agenda. So we have Mitt Romney using a 1998 deceptively edited video of President Obama promoted by the right wing site The Drudge to attack Obama over “redistribution”.
There are several problems with this, but the most hilarious is that the video gleefully pounced on by Romney, Republicans, and their media outlets was edited selectively to leave out the words “competition” “marketplace” and “innovation.”
I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.
And then, the part that was edited out of the Republican version:
How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.
The fact-checking has commenced based upon the NBC find, and it’s not pretty. The takeaway is that Romney took Obama out of context in a 14 year old clip. Jonathan Capehart writes, “we have come to learn through experience that video coming out of Boston must be viewed with caution.”
The Washington Post, which at first wasn’t too put out by the accusation – likening it to a few of Obama’s ads against Romney, after seeing the full quote gave Romney’s “redistribution” claim “4 Pinocchios for a truncated, 14-year-old Obama clip”, writing:
The clip was so old — he was just a state senator — and the context was rather unclear. Also, it appeared as if the YouTube version was clipped in mid-thought.
But now NBC News has obtained the rest of Obama’s comments, and it is clear his remarks were taken completely out of context. Obama is not talking about redistributing wealth at all — instead, he speaks about competition, the market place and innovation in an effort to improve government services in Chicago.
Nevertheless, the Romney campaign had seized on the remark as evidence of Obama’s apparently socialist tendencies. “You know, President Obama said he believes in redistribution,” GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Tuesday. “Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth. Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth.”
Let’s not forget that Romney was claiming that the full video of his remarks about 47% of Americans being dependent upon government and not worth his time would exonerate him. But then Mother Jones released the full version and it only indicted Romney further.
Last night on Univision, Romney was trying to reframe the debate, presenting himself as someone who cares about the poor and middle class. The problem he ran into is that saying it doesn’t make it so. His policies have to match up. But Romney was just as evasive on Univision as he is normally, though he attempted to present an entirely new candidate to the forum: a very tanned version of himself, one who suddenly loved Obama Care and took credit as being its grandfather, and one who claimed to be for the “100 percent”. The Romney side step prompted host Maria Elena Salinas to push, “With all due respect, your reluctance to provide details on a permanent solution has created maybe a perception that you are kind of evading the question.”
Yes. That’s a problem. Empty rhetoric is not enough. The problem Mitt Romney has is that his policies match the ugly words caught on tape. It turns out that Mitt Romney seeks to fundamentally redistribute the wealth in this country, only from the bottom up. He’s reverse Robinhood, trying to avoid getting caught by claiming that it’s awful that President Obama wants to give all Americans a fair shot. In fact, part of our promise as a free democracy is that we protect our vulnerable. It is part of what sets us apart from third world nations, and instead of being ashamed of it, we ought to be proud of it. It is called civilized society, buttressed with the morality that we take care of those with the least among us. Mitt Romney and his 1%ers are merely projecting their own infantile rage that they have to share their toys on occasion.
Willfully distorting a message by cutting the video off exactly when you need to in order to inaccurately indict someone with their words is the work of a con artist. We expect nothing less from the Drudge. But we do expect our media and our Presidential candidates to be above the Drudge.
Republicans have created their own reality via their own networks and heavily distorted right wing outlets. They are running against a fictional Obama, one that fits the narrative they created. The problem for them is their narrative was never accurate and they haven’t managed to convince the rest of America that white is black.
So we have Mitt Romney, a failure of a candidate on so many levels, not bothering with facts or reality this election. From his egregiously false ads to his desperate attempt to use an edited Drudge video to exonerate himself from his own words, Mitt Romney shows a failure to operate in reality and very, very poor judgment.
We know that Mitt Romney took an off the record meeting with 60 or so right wing bloggers. According to attendees, the message was:
“The basic message I got is the primary’s over and we want you on our side and working with the campaign,” said one attendee. Another described the meeting as “sort of an olive branch to conservative media.”
At one point, Romney told attendees that the campaign intended to work closely with their outlets and will even help conservative outlets writing about Obama with opposition research, according to an attendee.
Therefor it’s not unthinkable that they coordinated this attack together as part of “working with the campaign.” But giving Romney and the bloggers the benefit of the doubt, let’s just say he got fooled. What does it say that Mitt Romney doesn’t care about reality and doesn’t bother to vet incoming information? Is that the sort of judgment we need in the White House? He’s either a liar or a fool.
As he cries “out of context!” Mitt Romney uses a deliberately edited video to try to create a false equivocation between his contempt for half of America and Barack Obama’s concern for that same half. Not only does Mitt Romney not get it, but he thinks it’s all about words. It’s not.
It’s in the policy. We already knew how Mitt Romney felt from his policies. We just didn’t know how much disdain he had for half of America. Now we do. Obama has been in office for almost four years. This isn’t 2008. The American people know this President now. They see that he’s trying to do what’s fair. The only people buying Mitt Romney’s fool’s gold are the people who are going to vote for him anyway.
So, Mitt Romney got Breitbarted — not because his remarks were taken out of context, but because he expected Americans to be as easily manipulated as his base and as foolish as him. He tried to pass off a deception that he fell for, and he got busted. Fail.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.