Addled Advertising

For your consideration, I present to you the following ad:

Mitt Romney’s questionable singing skills non-withstanding, this ad is an entirely unnecessary (although admittedly effective) slam against Romney’s past policies and practices. But is the information found within the ad true? The hauntingly horrific music swells over clippings and quotes from newspaper and other media that paint Romney as a man who outsources and creates jobs — just not in the correct country.

FactCheck.org, one of two good political accountability websites (the other being Politifact.com) posted an entire article that deconstructed the various claims from the Obama campaign about outsourcing from Romney and his previous place of employment, Bain Capital. You can read the article in full here. 

Here is a summary from the article that explains their findings:

Obama accuses Romney in a series of TV ads of being a “corporate raider” who “shipped jobs to China and Mexico,” asking if voters want to elect an “outsourcer in chief.” But some of the claims in the ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.

Bain Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Romney in 1984, is the focus of the Obama campaign’s attacks. There is no question that Bain invested in some companies that helped other companies outsource work and that some of that work went overseas. That was the core business for Modus Media and SMTC Corp. — two outsource companies featured in a June 21 article in the Washington Post that has been the basis of recent Obama TV ads. Bain also invested in U.S.-based companies that sold goods manufactured here and abroad, and some of those companies closed U.S. facilities and eliminated U.S. jobs.

But after reviewing numerous corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, contemporary news accounts, company histories and press releases, and the
evidence offered by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, we found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas.

So, in the end, it appears that Obama’s latest series of ads have been misleading.

We deserve better.

How does Mitt Romney, on the other hand, compare to Obama’s outsourcing oversights? Here is one of his most recent ads:

The ad opens with a grainy cell-phone video (is the lack of hard focus supposed to make us turn against Obama? Strange.) of Obama claiming that “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” Romney’s ad attempts to paint Obama as an outsider — an elitist who does not understand what it takes to make a business in America. This quote from Obama, though, was taken completely out of context. Here is the full excerpt:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

“So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the G.I. Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

The ad’s leading quote is indicated in bold within the second line of this excerpt from a greater speech that Obama gave in Roanoke, VA. As you can see, the villainous line (read: sarcasm) was taken completely out of context and used against its original meaning. Obama’s entire message from that speech was that it takes teamwork and community to create success, which is exactly what Mitt Romney is saying that he can do “better.”

It’s pathetic.

It is, however, entirely expected. You see, it is now that unfortunate time in the American election cycle when political “attack” ads clog network television airways during prime-time hours.

In short: is this the best that we can do? Why must our chosen candidates sling falsehoods and baseless accusations at each other for months before the actual election? Why must this political paradigm exist at all?

Intelligent dialogue between candidates is what the American public needs in order to make an informed decision about their president. Do these ads create intelligent and informed dialogue? Not even a little bit. Although we have the debates to (sort of) look forward to in the fall, they do not create informed discussion any more than these attack ads do. Presidential debates are pale and paltry imitations of a real debate that end up being no better than a second-grade school yard argument over marbles.

Political affiliation should not matter during the election cycle. All citizens of this country should expect nothing but abject honesty from its candidates. I am a Democrat. I will vote for Obama in November. I am not, however, pleased with his actions with advertising of late. Why can we not rise above these arguments?

Both Obama and Romney need to take a step back and analyze how they are addressing the country through their negativity. Attack ads do not inspire or impress. Attack ads, if anything, turn individuals off from the voting process entirely. How is this useful in a democratic society? It is not.

We must begin to expect straight answers and accountability out of our candidates. Although we peons of society have no control over advertising, we do have some measure of control over debates. Once the venues and moderators are announced, I would strongly suggest that all interested persons e-mail or contact the appropriate parties in order to suggest a true debate format. Let us have true discussion — not just regurgitation and repartee.

President Obama and Mitt Romney: Step it up. We are done with your juvenile games.

Move forward — make a difference.

 

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