Criticizing Dishonest Ads
I’m generally in agreement with Paul Krugman on most things, but every once in a while, he tosses something out there that I take a slight issue with. From a blog post today on the “you didn’t build that” controversy:
First, sure enough, the self-reliant businessman featured in Romney’s ads was the beneficiary of large government loans and contracts. This doesn’t make him a bad guy; pretending that he did it all himself does.
Pretending that he did it all himself makes him a bad guy? Plenty of Americans don’t realize the role government has in their lives. It makes him a “bad guy” for not remembering a loan from 1999 or a few Navy contracts in 2008? More likely, the businessman did realize that he dealt with the government, but he sees it as much him helping the government as the government helping him out. An even trade. He may even understand that the government helped him a bit, but thinks Obama isn’t giving him and his family enough credit so he goes to the extreme and denies any government help.
None of that makes him a “bad guy” though.
But that’s just a minor, disrespectful phrase by Krugman. My larger issue with him and other liberal bloggers has been the fact that they’ve jumped on Romney for his most recent, dishonest ad, but laid off on Obama’s “outsourcer” attack.
I agree that Romney’s ad is slightly worse. His campaign took two chunks out of Obama’s speech, cut out the middle and edited it so it seemed like there was nothing in between. That’s pretty dishonest, but Obama also spent a while calling Romney an “outsourcer” from his Bain days, trying to insinuate that Romney would rather create jobs abroad than in the US. That’s pretty deceitful as well.
Now there was a lot of debate over Romney’s involvement with Bain after he left to run the Olympics and how much responsibility he has for Bain’s actions then. But I’m not sure that matters that much. Obama’s ads made it sound like Romney’s actions deliberately harmed the country by sending jobs abroad. While not blatantly dishonest, the ad is still very misleading. The companies under Bain that shipped jobs overseas did so because it was the right move for those companies. Even if Romney was in charge, it was still the right move. Why would anyone expect him to keep those jobs in the country if the companies could produce greater profits by sending them overseas?
Krugman and other liberal bloggers (and all journalists) have every right to jump on Romney for his less-than-truthful ads, but they also have a duty to jump on Obama as well. The criticism for dishonest ads should go both ways.