I confess that when it comes to observing political campaigns, I am definitely not a novice. I have worked as a political adviser on several local and state campaigns, and have written copy for campaign ads targeting African-American voters. Needless to say, I have seen more than my fair share of mud-slinging. Some of it was clever, some of it not so clever, but it was always rooted in some kind of truth — albeit slanted to fit the agenda of the candidate who paid for the ad.
Place the recent anti-Obama ad by Mitt Romney’s camp in the not-so-clever-come-borderline-stupid category. The ad, which ran in New Hampshire last week, talks about the President’s 2008 promise to fix the economy. Against stark images of economic decay — boarded-up businesses, housing foreclosures — we hear a voiceover of President Obama saying these words: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
The problem with the ad is that it suffers from a chronic political disease Gil Scott-Heron called selective amnesia: the act of remembering what one chooses to remember while conveniently forgetting what one chooses to forget. In this case the Romney ad forgets to mention the fact that the President was actually quoting Romney's fellow Republican Sen. John McCain, who ran against the President in 2008. This is not an accidental misquote, it’s a deliberate falsehood.
When the Romney camp got chin-checked for distorting the President’s words, they backpedaled, saying the point they were trying to make is that President Obama and his camp are reluctant to talk about the economy and “distract voters from his abysmal economic policies.” Once again, the Romney camp fails to mention that Obama has been trying his best to fix the economy but every time he proposes a solution, the GOP shuts it down. And I guess Romney and his colleagues elected not to remember that it was his good friend and fellow Republican George Bush’s lopsided economic policies that got us into this economic fiasco in the first place.
It has been my experience that when political candidates have no real ideals of substance to offer, they resort to attacking their opponent as a diversion. I guess this is why Mitt Romney’s anti-Obama messages don’t surprise me one bit.
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(Photo: AP Photo/ Mary Ann Chastain)