Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Mitt Romney murdered my wife!"



At least, that's the implication of this new ad from Priorities USA Action.



Very effective, I think. If what you're striving for is to push the "Mitt Romney is a cold, unfeeling, immoral, rich bastard," if what you're trying to do is suppress the turnout of white working class voters that wouldn't consider voting for Obama in November. It doesn't do a thing to get people to the polls to vote for Obama, but that's obviously not the intent.

Of course, there are several factual issues with this ad.
  1. Bain purchased GST in 1993, preventing bankruptcy and saving 750 jobs (in a company that had had over 4000 ten years earlier) and it closed in 2001. So if they were in it to strip it and flip it, they didn't do a very good job.
  2. Mitt Romney left the active management of Bain in 1999, to run the Salt Lake City Olympic games, two years before GST closed.
  3. Even after GST closed in 2001, the Soptics still had health insurance through Mrs. Soptic's job.
  4. Mrs. Soptic died in 2006.
(See this and this. Even CNN found that the ad is "not accurate.")

But that's not really what interests me. There are two issues raised that interest me.

The first is fairly obvious, and it is, again, how negative the Obama campaign1 is, and has to be. In 2008, he had no record and didn't have to run on one. Now he does, and can't. He's doing nothing to expand the voter-base. His whole campaign is an effort to suppress the anti-Obama vote by trying to make Mitt Romney toxic, to paint him as a villain.

The other thing is more insidious, and concerns me greatly about the country in which we live. And that is the implied assumption that once you've hired someone, you're responsible for that person, and his family, for the rest of his life. As if hiring someone is morally identical to adopting him. It is not. You hire someone to do a job, at an agreed upon rate of compensation, that may or may not include non-monetary benefits such as health insurance. You have every obligation to be honest and forthright with your employees, to treat them appropriately, but you do not take on a lifetime obligation unless that's part of the upfront agreement. There is no implicit agreement, and certainly no moral obligation, to maintain the upkeep of anyone involved in a venture that is no longer profitable.

I don't want to beat up on Mr. Soptic, because what happened to him is painful, and seems unfair, but the extrapolation of his personal woes into Mitt Romney's responsibility is outrageous. It is based on several different unsupported assumptions of possible counterfactuals, and a worldview that looks on people as sheep to be tended by the first shepherd they can find.

And it's par for the course for the Obama campaign.





1 - Don't bother telling me that this isn't an official Obama campaign ad. No, it's not, but it comes from an outside group that's clearly following the official Obama campaign playbook. They've been all over the Bain record with exactly this kind of thing.

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