Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today's Lazy Mendacity Update provided by Dave Weigel, who notes that there's yet another video clip of Obama out there that uses edits to force his words out of context.

Kevin Drum calls this kind of thing "creepy" in his headline, but I think the best way of thinking about it is that it just insults our intelligence and shows utter contempt for voters. Especially Republican voters. And I really don't think it's a Romney campaign thing; I think it's generally a Republican thing. After all, Newt Gingrich. And Michele Bachmann. And Herman Cain.

And the thing that got me going on lazy mendacity was the Scott Walker ACA op-ed that linked to all his cherry-picked examples...and all the context he ripped them out of. To be sure: not every Republican is doing this sort of thing. But it's where the bulk of the active party is.

I do agree with Drum, however, that it's new. He gives a few examples of past Republican nastiness, but he's right: they're different. The Willie Horton attack was at least plausibly true (I don't remember whether the actual ad, produced outside the campaign, was factually accurate or not, but that's sort of the point; what was wrong with that attack wasn't, in fact, anything about whether the story was accurate or not). Similarly, the Swift Boat attacks might have been entirely and totally false, but they weren't obviously false, or easily shown to be false without actually digging up some evidence.

We're not getting this because of Mitt Romney. This is how a party acts when it doesn't care about getting called a pack of liars, on the one hand, and don't care about lying to their supporters, on the other. Romney, at best, is just an excellent fit for the GOP.


  1. "I’m also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton....." (Obama)

    "The President also believes that the top 2% should return to Clinton-era income tax rates....." (David Plouffe)

    I'm wondering why they're misstating their own policy. The tax increase doesn't apply to people making over $250K, it applies to income over that amount. They're not proposing to raise taxes on all the income of someone making $250K+, and the impact on lots of people above but near that line would be minimal. Do they think that's just too difficult to explain, or have they calculated that they're better off making populist noises than reassuring everyone that the tax increase in question will not really make anyone's life more difficult?

  2. When the poorest states in the country, states that are utterly dependent on aid from the federal government, (many if which who still fly the confederate flag) go on and on about people having to pay their fair share, the rest of the country has to find some way to make sense of such an obvious contradiction. When states that can produce no substantial evidence of in person voter fraud pass laws in a presidential election year that disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters (consisting disproportionally of minorities), the rest of the country has to try to make sense of that. You see, theses two examples are completely baffling to me. As for the rest of your straw-man silliness, it hardly merits a response (no one advocates the abolishment of the criminal justice system, and anyone with half a brain knows that public assistance provides a very meager lifestyle). Obviously, there are many republicans and conservatives who could not fairly be called racists. However, if the conservative movement wants to have a better discussion and move past these issues, it will have to do better than simply covering its ears and yelling "You're wrong, wrong, wrong!"

  3. Darn, and here I forgot to apply to the government for my Life of Riley package. I get that right after my Fibber McGee & Molly dividend, yes?

    In seriousness, I don't think Democrats want to imply that all Republicans are racists-- at least, honest and responsible ones don't-- so much as that racism is an ongoing problem in our society, as is a wealth imbalance that goes back hundreds of years, and maybe government policy ought to take these things into consideration.

    That, and it's really bad form to ask for a black president's papers when nobody thought to ask the white presidents.

    1. To be fair, though, the racism charge is thrown around a lot, and in the direction of the GOP a lot. (I'm not saying it's not deserved, but the charge is fairly common). Nuance is lost in these charges, just as it is lost when all Democrats are "tax-and-spend" atheistic liberals who are going to take your guns and give them to gay couples. But, I think a lot of Democrats do make the implications that Anon complains about, and do so with a broad brush.

      I'd say, though, that my (obviously biased view) is that the difference is that the paint the Democrats are using is the right color, at least for a large segment of the GOP. The 'lazy mendacity' stuff that JB is complaining about, though, that's painting the whole donkey orange. It's not just an unfair generalization; it's also simply lying about the individual subject at hand. When Dems charge the GOP with favoring the rich, it's objectively true, at least using the standards that the Dems are applying. When the GOP says that Dems think society built everything, that's WILLFULLY misinterpreting Obama's words and taking them out of context. Apples and oranges.

  4. Anon - I'm tempted to agree with you that Romney and the Repubs are grotesquely immoral, but I can't go that far. I know too many decent Repubs, and, although I won't be voting for Romney, I can't bring myself to believe that he is so devoid of conscience that he would model his behavior after the behavior of the worst people on the other side.

    That said, some Repubs are grotesquely immoral, as you admit (or celebrate). I hope their influence on the party wanes, partly for their own good, and partly for the good of the country. "I'm no worse than you are" may seem like a good riposte, but it's a pretty sad self-image.

  5. From an interview with Lee Atwater, Republican strategist, 1981 (he later did the Willie Horton ad):

    Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

    Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

  6. I guess I've been listening to the wrong liberal elitists, because I wasn't aware that Republican initiatives like the War in Iraq that many liberals objected to had been ascribed to racism.

  7. This is how a party acts when it doesn't care about getting called a pack of liars, on the one hand, and don't care about lying to their supporters, on the other.

    Politicians respond to incentives, or in this case, a lack of disincentives.

    We need to put 'Just win, baby' on the Great Seal. E pluribus unum is outdated, collectivist rubbish, and in a dead language to boot.

  8. @Anon, I agree that the racist label has been thrown around way too much and corruptly as a tactic to cut off debate about the efficacy of poverty and other programs.

    Is the best response to do the same or worse? If you support it because revenge feels great, your emotion has won over your reason. There are plenty of ways to fight back against the racist label, the first being to call accusers out and make them show what solid evidence there is of racism.

    Conveniently excusing the dirty tactics of your side (or tribe) as reasonable payback is a cheap substitute for fighting the good fight, and rather a coward's argument. I think you can do better than that.

  9. Jonathan, are you really having trouble finding lazy mendacities on the Democratic side? Or are you just in campaign mode at this point? Even Topless Anarchist Dude can find one if he cares to look for it:

  10. Couves,
    Had trouble finding your example of "both sides do it." Not really sure if I found your example. Is it the Obamacare vs. Romenycare rant? If it is, this is a pretty weak example, seeing that the people using lazy mendacity as a campaign model are primarily connected to Romney and the Republican party. If Romney is your choice, just come right out and say so.

    1. nanute,
      I thought the lazy mendacity of the Obama campaign ad was pretty clear. But if you want to keep believing that the Democrats can do no wrong, don't let me stop you.

  11. This is a pathetic post at best. It's nice that you used such big words. Do you know what they mean? I defy you to go on to any of the right wing propaganda sites i.e. NewsMax, CNS, and scroll through the comments section and not see some form of a racist remark. I defy you to go through the left wing propaganda sites and find any of the progressive/liberals making the same racist comments. I think what you will find is that they right wing trolls are the ones that come on those pages and make the derogatory statements. I am on a daily basis on both sides pages, and I can tell you from personal reading that the conservatives are creating their own reputation as racist. They are the ones that put the comments out there. Perhaps if you were to get them to stop doing it, we would see you as the racists that you are saying they aren't. I know not all people who support the GOP are racist. But, given the amount of racist comments I read on a daily basis, I would have to say that there is a good amount of them that are.


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