The Obama Campaign Claims Ownership of Truth

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama waves to supporter from the stage after speaking at a campaign event at Norfolk State University, Sept. 4, 2012, in Norfolk, Va.

Honestly, the Obama campaign has a new message. “We’re going to have an honest conversation,” said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt on Monday in Charlotte, N.C. Senior strategist Stephanie Cutter elaborated with a knock on last week’s Republican National Convention. “What they didn’t do is speak honestly about how to deal with America’s problems, speak honestly about where they wanted to take the country,” she said on MSNBC.

On Sunday, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, President Obama adviser David Plouffe skipped the word honest to get right to the heart of it. “Their campaign is built on a tripod of lies,” he said of the Romney campaign. “A welfare attack that is just absolutely untrue. The suggestion that we’re raiding Medicare, absolutely untrue. And then this whole ‘We can’t build it’ nonsense.”

(PHOTOS: The Art of Political Stagecraft)

In short, the Obama campaign is claiming the banner of truth as a cudgel against its opponent. “It’s not explicit. It’s an implicit comparison,” said Brad Woodhouse, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, when I stopped him at the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday. He pointed to the trouble that Paul Ryan landed in last week, after slighting some truth in his convention address. Among other things, Ryan condemned the cost savings in Medicare that he supported in the past as “the biggest, coldest power play in all of Obamacare” that “came at the expense of the elderly.” Said Woodhouse: “They lost basically a day of the convention with a media discussion of how many lies Paul Ryan peppered his speech with.”

Obama and his campaign seem determined to avoid the same pitfalls in Charlotte this week. In my interview with Obama two weeks ago, the President hinted at the coming strategy, casting it as a choice between rationality and irrationality. “The facts are on my side in this argument,” he said. “The question is whether, while we’re still digging ourselves out of this hole that we found ourselves in, the facts will win the day.”

For the record, the Obama campaign has not always hewed to the truth. One of its summer television spots focusing on Mitt Romney’s abortion record is centered on an outright falsehood. It says Romney “backed a law that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.” Romney has been consistent in his support for a rape-and-incest exemption since 2005, when he renounced his previous pro-choice views. Obama campaign officials also suggested this summer that Romney might be a felon for having submitted legal filings that said he had a controlling interest in Bain Capital even after he took leave to work on the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The campaign offered no legal justification to back up the charge.

(PHOTOS: Behind the Cover: Obama Makes His Way to the DNC)

But in recent weeks, the Romney campaign has outdone the Obama-campaign deceptions by shaping its central message around two distortions: that Obama cut Medicare to deprive current seniors benefits, and that he wants to do away with the work requirement for welfare. In fact, Obama’s cuts to Medicare were cost savings with bipartisan support, including support from Ryan, that eliminated a private-insurance option that was widely seen as wasteful. The Obama waiver for welfare, meanwhile, does not do away with the work requirement. Instead, it demands that states show improvement in work placement.

In Charlotte, look for the Obama team to ride this message to its political benefit. So far in this election cycle, fact checkers and the media have had little effect in preventing the campaigns from misrepresenting facts. But that doesn’t mean the campaigns won’t punish each other for misleading voters.

54 comments
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asian fractional ownership
asian fractional ownership

 In a nutshell: "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,"

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a panel organized by ABC News." Mr Newhouse, of the Joseph Goebbels School of Propaganda.

Michael
Michael

"Romney has been consistent in his support for a rape-and-incest exemption since 2005"

Then why is he on video in 2007, stating he'd, and I quote, "welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill."

What? Was he caught up in the moment and forgot his beliefs? Temporary insanity? Or perhaps, he really did mean he'd "welcome" that circumstance and be "delighted to sign that bill"? The question was clear, the answer was not muddy. There's a desire to give Romney the benefit of the significant doubt, probably so the media can say (as you do here) "both sides lie," but the truth is that pointing to those actual words is not a "lie," they're not out of context.

Or let me put it this way: has he ever said that if the GOP presented him with such a bill he would VETO it? 

ahandout
ahandout

Sorry, couldn't get past the Obama campaign using the word truth.  Our post modern president doesn't believe in truth.  It's all relative.

I don't know how anyone could write about this without laughing  themselves out of the chair.

La_Randy
La_Randy

The only thing funnier would be somebody voting for an outright liar like Romney.

Howienica
Howienica

Obama said in 2012 the unemployment rate would drop to 5.6%, the GDP growth would be 4%, and he would cut the annual deficit in half.

Did he lie- or is he just incompetent?

La_Randy
La_Randy

No, he did not. Prove your lie with a link to the video or transcript. Otherwise have a nice day.

quieteye
quieteye

He thought Republicans were reasonable and interested in helping the country recover from their previous policy wrecks.  

Found out different.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Romnesia (n.) - a condition characterized by a presidential candidate's tendency to lie spontaneously about his or her opponent and then to subsequently deny what he or she has said when questioned about it by responsible mainstream media the following day. Sufferers of this condition often try to hide their lies by referring to them as "legitimate truth."

Tero1
Tero1

Can you use it in a sentence?

radsenior
radsenior

To tell the truth. What a statement? First, are we better off today than we were four years ago? No! We're not better off due to the concerted effort of the TEA-Republican-GOP-Evangelical to pass state laws to inhibit voter rights and disenfranchise people of color! Yes we are better off! The previous Congress(111th) passed the PPACA(Health Care Act) has provisions to increase health care providers and cover many without health care insurance. No! The current Congress under john Boehner has not passed any legislation to help increase jobs in America. Yes! There has been a constant but slow jobs production by the private sector while the governmental sector has lost many jobs.

Karl Hudnut
Karl Hudnut

Respectfully, Mr. Scherer:

Sorry, I'm going to have to pick the nits here.

1)Re: Abortion: OK, Romney says exception for rape, incest, and, as I understand it *death* of the mother. So, well, we would prefer *health* of the mother. More importantly, we insist that the determination be between the mother and her doctor, *and-no-one-else-that-the-mother-chooses-not-to-involve*. Which for all intents and purposes moots the entire, rape,incest,death-of-mother argument. EG: does some poor woman have to *prove* she was raped, and argue about "legitimate rape" vs. something else? Do her and her Dr. have to go through some onerous filing that death might be imminent? How is that ever going to work, in time to save her? I think the Romney exception argument is moot.

1a) Even still, the RNC platform, and notably, Ryan, the VP candidate, disagree with any exceptions. So, well, I don't find Obama  campaign advertising "outright falsehoods". I find them at worst poorly worded.

2)Re: Romney's perjury. You say: "[Obama campaign charged felony and] The campaign offered no legal justification to back up the charge." It is true they did not offer legal justification. They merely referred to a Boston Globe article. But the Boston Globe article seems irrefutable to me. Vis: Romney's signature on SEC filings as CEO etc. and campaign finance filings stating he had no involvement. Both cannot be true. It's perjury and those are public documents.

2a) The argument that SEC filings are just paperwork is so weak. *So* weak. If you sign a document stating you are CEO, then you are responsible for that company. That's all. You are responsible. Any citizen knows that. If you sign another document you have no involvement, then one of them is perjury. Unless the rule of law is to be just brushed aside. In which case, well, can I just then fill in a tax return that is full of lies about my income and financial dealings? And it's all just paper work isn't it? My questions are rhetorical and intended to point out the  absurdity of the argument that there is no legal justification. There is justification: SEC filings and campaign finance filings.

3)Therefore J'Acuse: 1) Romney is misrepresenting his true stance on abortion, mincing words, and Obama has the right to mince his own words to say so. If Obama wants to call it a pahatato and you want to call it a potato, I think neither is wrong or right. It's just how you use the words. 2) However: Romney is in fact liable to prosecution as a felony perjurer and you cannot deny that unless you can show me that the Boston Globe article is false.

Respectfully, Karl Hudnut. Rollinsville CO.

filmnoia
filmnoia

The Dems this week have to tie Willard and Paulie to the word "liar" as much as they can. That may shake Michael and the rest of the MSM out of their lethargy. Once the point is reached where the average man on the street is asked what word comes to mind when the word "Romney" is said, the automatic answer would be "liar". Moral coward also works for me,  but that takes more explaining.  We teach kids to tell the truth, so no one wants  to explain to their children how they would vote for a liar.

Howienica
Howienica

Anything but talk about his failed Presidency, huh, film?

Too late.

Gabriel Lanham
Gabriel Lanham

I have a hard time considering the Romney abortion ad that misleading when Romney's own party platform is arguing for no abortions under any circumstances. 

Of course, it's a little hard for any ad to truthfully claim what Romney believes, since his true policy position consists entirely of "whatever I think will get me elected."

Howienica
Howienica

Project much?

Under Obamas thin veneer is a thin veneer.

Kenaz Filan
Kenaz Filan

So you're saying the Republican Party platform does NOT argue for no abortions under any circumstances?  

D_Bob
D_Bob

As we saw on The Daily Show, Romney has his God-given and Constitutional American right to choose whether to follow the platform or not, even if the platform denies women the (Constitutional) right of free choice (granted by Roe v. Wade).

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

After all... he's "running for office, for Pete's sake".

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I rarely read anything written by Scherer.  I read enough far Right blogs without having to endure the  stark partisanship of Scherer and Halperin. Talking from SARAH PALIN'S famous remark, to Scherer and Halperin, in their "Anti Obama, Romney is great even though he was a rotten governor but he is the messiah LA LA Far Right blah blah blah blah blah", THANKS, BUT NO THANKS.

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...  

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

True or False?  The Republican party hasn't been conservative for 40 years. 

Howienica
Howienica

True or False. The Democratic Party hasnt been moderate for 40 years.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

"...when Romney has been consistent in his support for a rape and incest exemption since 2005, when he renounced his previous pro-choice views."

I realize that this quote isn't the point of the article but I found it amusing.  "He's been consistent ever since he stopped being consistent with his previous opinion" isn't very consistent.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Of course Willard hasn't been consistent on abortion since 2005. He has swung more times than a pinata. On Huckabee's TV show, within the last year, he came out for the Personhood Amendment, that would prohibit abortion under all circumstances, but now he would  have a rape, incest, and health of the mother exemption. Sorry Mr. Scherer, I know it's tough to keep up with the changing positions, but, after all, it is part of your job to do so. 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"...it is part of your job to do so. "

Apparently, even after all these years, his editors still haven't explained it to him. Go figure.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

R-ayn-d pulled that GM plant baloney again on GMA this morning.  Snuffleupagus failed to catch him on that lie. 

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

See, here's the thing, IMO. 

It doesn't matter.  Truth?  Lies?  It doesn't matter  All that matters is it's effectiveness.  Does it sound good?  Does it fit a preconceived notion of the target demographic?  Does it play into a fear or belief held by the target demographic? 

High information voters, endangered species though we may be, aren't influenced by political commercials anyway.  Pols are trying to reach low information voters of every flavor to sway them.  Low information voters aren't going to ever bother to find out if an ad's true or not, so it doesn't matter.  And, it's not like there's any source(s) out there that reach a massive audience, and clearly and consistently calls a lie a lie, right?  A place for people to turn for unbiased, factual information, if you will.  Perhaps hosted on TV by a person or persons who are respected and trusted not to lie.       

lreed580
lreed580

"We understand the values of mainstream journalists , including the effort to report both sides of the story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality."

http://www.washingtonspectator...

Curious_Quiche
Curious_Quiche

The Republicans flagrantly make things up. This is called a distortion.The Democrats put Republican nonsense in a bad light. This is called an outright lie.The Republicans lie about the Democrat's fake lie, which is pointed out by Democrats, which is misrepresented by the media and a new round of lying and betting begins. Everyone must "ante up" by taking a drink before the first trick is taken.Play continues until an affiliated entertainment figure says or does something so completely outrageous, everyone is forced to stare in horror/wry amusement. Then the deck is reshuffled and a new hand is dealt. Also, drink.

If at anytime, a player is disproven by a demonstrable fact, he is penalized two points, unless he can yell at the top of his voice until the fact shower no longer wishes to attempt to speak. Also, he has to drink. You know what, both of you drink. Outright lies are worth two points, distortions are worth three. First player to a ridiculous amount of points wins. "Ridiculous amount" is open to interpretation. Bonus points for obfuscating a fact to the point where it is widely believed to be an outright lie. This is called "Playing a Trump".The winner is allowed, at his leisure, to order the other players to drink, shower him with inane compliments, grovel, or wash his car. He may also confiscate any remaining drinks, should he so choose. A new game will begin when the winner passes out or goes home, and everyone can talk real bad about his momma.Also, drink. You'll need it.

ducdebrabant
ducdebrabant

The Obama campaign's abortion ad was pulled months ago, while every falsehood of the Romney campaign is being ritually repeated not only by his own ads but by those of his allied pacs, and his campaign has announced that it will not be run by "fact-checkers."  It's a little lame and a lot stale to keep bringing up an Obama ad which was at least based on a legitimate misinterpretation and equate it to numerous misstatements of fact made up of whole cloth, and constantly reiterated despite innumerable press articles discrediting them.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Barry Hussein Soetoro-Obama wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him upside the head with a tire iron.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 LL, if someone slapped you upside the head with a tire iron, do you think you will make sense on this site?? How about if someone stuck a hot iron into your eyes? Would you see better, and be less distorted. 

I think you should try your suggestions for Obama on yourself. It would be nice, at least for some of us, to watch you slap yourself with a HOT tire iron. Let me know if you intend to stream it live.   

filmnoia
filmnoia

I think if someone slapped LL2012 upside the head with a tire iron he would have an orgasm.

Dan5404
Dan5404

That's the arguing method of the GOP. If they start arguing facts and you've run out of bumper sticker arguments, attack 'em with a tire iron.   Better yet, start another couple of wars so they can use their big guns against those Muslim buddies of this socialist/Marxist/black/non-American president whose approval ratings are better with all groups except those good ole white boys!

Howienica
Howienica

more race baiting.

95% of blacks voted for Obama.

Was that racism?

If 95% of whites vote for Romney will that be racism?

Consistency is Character.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

"Barry Hussein Soetoro-Obama"

For those of you who are paying attention, this is the new "oooh, he's scary and foreign and we don't know who he is" dog whistle for the 2012 campaign.  Evidently the "Barack Hussein Obama" version from 2008 was't effective enough.

tiredofit
tiredofit

You're "outright falsehood" is not really an outright falsehood.  Romney said he would like the country to say, "we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period."

If he stopped at "country" then you could write, as you did when you first brought this up.

"This was not a discussion about whether or not there should be a rape or incest exemption."

However, Romney didn't stop at "country."  He went on to say, "at all, period." That's a discussion of the scope of a ban, and he twice clarifies that it would be absolute.

Yes, Romney's official position when talking to the media is to support an exemption for rape an incest, but when he was talking to a friendly crowd that wants to hear about absolute abortion bans he pandered to them.

And it is Romney's pandering and saying what he thinks his audience wanted to hear that created this dilemma.  He was clear with "at all, period" that he was discussing an absolute ban. 

So maybe you can say Obama intentionally inflated Romney's support for that law, but not that it's an "outright falsehood."

As for the "Obama campaign officials also suggested that Romney might be a felon this summer" you twisted her words at least as much as Obama did with his abortion ad. She said that if Romney lied on those reports he would have committed a felony, but not that he was a felon or had committed a felony. I don't understand why you say they provided no legal justification for the suggestion because lying on those forms is a felony. It's that simple. Why is it OK for you to spin what's said but for a campaign to quote the actual position stated is an "outright falsehood"?

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

So when he says "we" that means he has a mouse in his pocket?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...

I am taking this opportunity to appeal to my fellow women to REJECT Romney and Ryan, and to say NO to these men who want to take away our reproductive rights. We have come too far, liberal, Independent and Conservative WOMEN, to have those rights thrown out by activist Judges and a Far Right President.  Vote Obama, he is the PROTECTOR of our rights.   

Happily, I do not know any of my college educated female friends that intend to vote for Romney. Since the next president will appoint the two retiring Judges in the Supreme Court, and Romney has stated, that of he is elected, he wants these judges to overturn our reproductive rights. We do not support ROMNEY AT ALL.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Micheal's problem is that having already staked out his position, he's got to stick to it. The key thing about the abortion ad, is that when the Obama campaign was called on it, they modified their language to adapt. When the Romney campaign gets called out for distortions they just double down on them.  

And as our daily trolls demonstrate continuously, truth doesn't matter, especially if it takes more than seven words to express it.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

At least Halperin is a great writer, even though he is jockeying for a position as Romney's butler???? Scherer on the other hand,  is just an average writer fighting with all his might to push Romney's agenda on us all in TIME.

Go way Scherer.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 Michael is a very good writer - at times a brilliant writer.  Makes it all the worse when he uses words incorrectly or distorts reality.

grape_crush
grape_crush

I appreciate the media's new-found appreciation for fact-checking and pointing out what's true/kind of true/kind of false/false in the political sphere...but said journos need to approach their own work in the same manner.

For example:

...is centered on an outright falsehood.

No, it's a politicized spin on something Romney actually said which contradicted something else Romney actually said. There's no outright falsehood about it, although it's a less than charitable presentation of Romney's position.

...Romney has been consistent in his support for...

Romney has been consistent except for the times when he has not been consistent. If his position was clear and truly consistent, there would be little room for creative interpretation.

Romney campaign has outdone the Obama deceptions by shaping its central message around two distortions...

Not distortions, Scherer. This time you can use the term outright falsehood and be accurate.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 Ryan's lying about his marathon time is more indicative of character than spinning political points of view.  It was a lie, and demonstrates that he's willing to lie, and thinks he can get away with lying without anyone holding him to account.

pollardty
pollardty

Posts like this from Michael Scherer help sink highly paid punditry closer to oblivion. He displays no ability to weigh context or scale, facts or nuanced distortions or lies. Simplistic symmetrical balance used to be the ticket to a long career. Now it hastens the death of an industry.

paulejb
paulejb

grape_crush,

"Carney: Obama's sleight-of-hand goes to convention"

http://washingtonexaminer.com/... 

The most deceitful president since Milhouse.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Bush was the greatest LIAR ever. The facts have now emerged that from day one, Cheney and Rumsfeld planned to invade Iraq. 9/11 was all they needed to push a weak president into an unjustified and unwarranted war. A war that has led to the deaths of OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND IRAQI'S and THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT AMERICANS.

And again, we have two LIARS trying to get into power. Ryan, the Rollin LIAR. He is no wonk, he has no political rudder AND LIED about something as minute as his Marathon time. Romney is the new Bush, a weak man who will be used by extremists as Bush was used by Rumsfled and his his gang of war mongers. 

Past greatest liar who caused loss of lives and brought our country to it's knees=  G.W. BUSH   Candidates for Office who are GREAT LIARS=LYING RYAN and FLIP FLOP PANCAKE MAKIN' ROMNEY. 

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...

MisterFurious
MisterFurious

The most deceitful president since Milhouse. I think that was Bush. You see, lying about the need to take our nation to war IS the worst thing you could prevaricate about.

'

wagedronenumber9
wagedronenumber9

not according to the GOP, the worst prevarication a president can do is lie about a bj