An acquaintance of mine who is mostly apolitical but knows that I write about politics called late last week and asked me how I felt about “your guy” Mitt Romney causing a woman to die from cancer.
“My guy”? Hardly (I told you he was mostly apolitical).
This person told me that a claim advanced by Obama super-PAC Priorities USA in a recent TV ad that Romney caused a woman’s cancer death was so absurd that anyone with an ounce of sense should be able to see through it. I replied that we’re not that lucky. Too much of the electorate either isn’t sufficiently perceptive or is so blinded by ideology that they will believe anything negative about those with whom they disagree.
Beyond that, I informed him that more news outlets, pundits, and bloggers than I can hope to enumerate have shown that the attempt to tie Romney to the death in 2006 of former GST Steel employee Joe Soptic’s wife Ilyona because of business decisions made by Bain Capital, where Romney withdrew from active management in 1999, doesn’t even work as attempted. A Wall Street Journal editorial last week summarized matters succinctly:
So Mr. Romney is to blame because of decisions he didn’t make at a business he didn’t run that may or may not have set in train a series of random unconnected events many years apart that included Ilyona Soptic’s illness. Even more culpable is the butterfly in Peking that flapped its wings and forever altered the course of history.
The attempts at backpedaling which have followed have shown that the Obama campaign and its super-PAC surrogates were primarily interested in foisting a big lie onto the relatively disengaged. New York Magazine‘s Daily Intel blog noted that Mr. Soptic and Priorities USA now deny that the ad “meant to give viewers the impression that Romney essentially killed a woman.” (Then why did you guys produce it?) Attempts by the Obama campaign to distance itself from the ad don’t pass the laugh test, given that, as Politico’s Reid Epstein reported, ”Soptic also appeared, wearing what appears to be an identical shirt, in a May television ad for the Obama campaign.” On Sunday, Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC’s Brian Ross-enabler George Stephanopoulos: “I don’t think anybody — anybody believes that Mr. Soptic’s wife, that Governor Romney can be blamed for the death of Mr. Soptic’s wife, and frankly, I don’t think the ad says that either.”
From all appearances, Team Obama’s mission is accomplished. The big lie is out there, and almost no one who hasn’t already made up their mind will read or otherwise be aware of the three items just noted.
In 1980, the campaign of vulnerable incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter tried to save their guy’s fragile hold on the presidency by claiming that Republican challenger Ronald Reagan’s election would, as expressed by legendary co-columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, put a “mad nuclear bomber” in charge of the nation’s security. It didn’t work, but it made the election less of a Reagan blowout than it should have been. This time around, Obama is basing his by some accounts fading reelection effort on convincing enough Americans to matter that Mitt Romney’s election will lead to middle-class killing fields.