Priorities USA

The Audacity of Trope

Barack Obama

So often these days, we hear complaints about the divisive nature of partisan politics and a longing for a time when candidates were more genial and our politics more civil. Alas, in doing so we seek for the equivalent of the elusive white unicorn, something spoken of in hopeful measures but rarely seen in our nation’s history. Even our Founding Fathers, for whom I have the deepest respect and utmost admiration, were not always paragons of virtue in these matters. For example, the election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two men who had enjoyed fifteen years of friendship “without the smallest interruption,” was, shall we say, a most discourteous one. In the New England states, the Federalists warned that Jefferson was an atheist, and people would have to hide their Bibles should he be elected. By contrast, Alexander Hamilton wrote that Adams was a man of “distempered jealousy…extreme egotism” with an “ungovernable temper” which produced a natural tendency towards “detriment to any cause of which he is the chief…”

Still, an attack ad released last week by Obama surrogates at the super-PAC Priorities Action USA, which essentially implies that Romney is responsible for the death of a man’s wife, show just how deep in the mire Obama (who somehow obtained sealed divorce records of at least two prior opponents, which he used to destroy them) is willing to go to win re-election.

The ad features the bitter and forlorn visage of one Joe Soptic, a steel worker at GST Steel, one of the many companies invested in by Bain Capital. Soptic’s wife died of cancer, and he blames Mitt Romney for her death. With a tone meant to evoke in the viewer sadness for his loss and anger at Romney’s heartless complicity in her death, Soptic laments:

Rahm Emanuel tried to intimidate BuzzFeed reporter

Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff and current Mayor of Chicago, has a reputation for being a bully. While his style was once described by Bloomberg as “take no prisioners,” there is a pattern of rather odd behavior that has earned him the nickname “Rahmbo.”

In 1997, The New York Times reported that Emanuel began stabbing a steak during a dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president. The Times recalled, “Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.”

“‘Dead!” he screamed,” noted the Times.

Another example of Emanuel’s weird behavior was when he sent, according to The Daily Beast, a “dead fish in a box” to a pollster who was late delivering results. This story is frequently mentioned by conservatives talk show hosts, such as Sean Hannity, to show his ruthlessness.

But Michael Hastings, a reporter for BuzzFeed, got to see Emanuel’s strongarm tactics first hand. After a speech on November 8th of last year, Hastings asked the Chicago mayor about his role in fundraising for Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC that ran an ad implying that Mitt Romney killed a union worker’s wife.

American Crossroads- Cancer Ad

To respond to the controversy about the Priorities USA ad blaming Mitt Romney for the death of a man’s wife (see here), Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads has a new ad up:

Romney isn’t a killer, but Obama has officially murdered the message of “hope and change.”

Story behind anti-Romney ad falling apart

anti-Romney ad

The ad produce by PrioritiesUSA, a pro-Obama “super PAC” is still making waves. As explained yesterday, the ad features Joe Soptic, a steelworker who lost his job after Bain Capitol stepped in to stop the bleeding from the company’s financial losses in 2001. Soptic’s wife, Ilyona, died a few years later from lung cancer.

Soptic blames this on Mitt Romney, who founded the private investment firm. The only problem is that Romney didn’t have a hand in the day-to-day operations at Bain Capital at the time. Yes, he was still listed as CEO, but he had stepped away in 1999 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. What’s more, Jonathan Lavine, a bundler for President Obama, was managing Bain Capital during the time at which the steel mill was closed.

While the pain of losing a loved one is indeed great, it doesn’t excuse the errors in the story Soptic is telling in this ad and elsewhere, including a separate ad and conference call for President Obama’s campaign (emphasis mine):

The ad features Joe Soptic, 62, of Missouri, who lost his job when GST Steel of Kansas City—owned by Bain and other investors for eight years—was closed. As melancholy music plays, Mr. Soptic says that when the plant closed, he and his family lost their health-care coverage and “a short time after that, my wife became ill.” Her illness was diagnosed five years later. “I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to people’s lives by closing the plant,” Mr. Soptic says in the ad.

Team Romney praises RomneyCare

While trying to beat back criticism over the Priorities USA ad that essentially says he killed a woman — even though the ad is misleading, if not downright false, a campaign spokeswoman for Mitt Romney pointed to RomneyCare to show her that her boss can do health care reform:

Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul cited the Massachusetts healthcare law, which the Obama campaign has called the template for the Affordable Care Act, while attacking a controversial new super-PAC ad.

“I think that President Obama’s attacks have been so low and so despicable on a personal level that they’re backfiring on him,” Saul told Fox News on Wednesday, pushing back against the ad.

“If people had been in Massachusetts under Gov. Romney’s healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare,” she added.

With his poll numbers falling and unfavorables rising, Team Romney is no doubt in a panic over what to do to turn the tide of recent negative press. The only real problem with this line of messaging is that RomneyCare, which was the blueprint for ObamaCare, has been frequently cited by conservatives as an example of their distrust of Romney.

Indeed, this line is already causing some concern among conservatives. Erick Erickson, a talk show host and editor of RedState, probably brings home the sentiment as well as anyone else I’ve read:

Obama campaign refuses to condemn anti-Romney ad

anti-Romney ad

On Tuesday, Priorities USA, a pro-Obama “super PAC,” launched an ad in which Joe Soptic claims that Mitt Romney killed is wife. The allegation has to do with Bain Capital, a private investment firm that Romney founded, bought the company for which Soptic worked. His job was bought out and his pension was cut. Because Soptic, who has promoted pro-union causes, had to take a new job where health insurance wasn’t offered to his wife, Ilyona.

While the ad is potentially damaging, it’s also very misleading; if not blatantly false considering that Romney left Bain in 1999 to run the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, though he remained its CEO “in name only” until 2002. From 1999 to 2002, Romney was preparing for the Olympics or campaigning to become Governor of Massachusetts, not overseeing the day-to-day aspects of Bain Capital.

Not only that, but CNN points out that Soptic’s spouse had health insurance through her employer, after her spouse lost his job, but was forced to quit in 2003 because of an injury. Unfortunately, she passed away from lung cancer in 2006.

But as Doug Mataconis notes, blaming Romney for the failure of Soptic’s employer isn’t just misguided, it’s flat wrong:

Mitt Romney Killed Your Wife

Hide your kids, hide your wife… Romney will kill them.

This is an actual ad from President Obama’s Priorities USA Super PAC:

If Lee Atwater was alive today, I doubt he could compete with this level of ugliness.

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