A desperate establishment press is rolling out new variants of the "fake but accurate" excuse first employed to defend the phony documents disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather presented in an attempt to discredit George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service over three decades earlier during the 2004 presidential campaign. Probably the most risible is Michael Crowley's August 8 post at Time's Swampland blog. Crowley headlines the ad as "dishonest but important," and describes it in his opening paragraph as "at once the most dishonest and substantive ad of the summer." Here is more "logic" from Crowley:
Narrowly judged, the ad is scurrilous. ... The distance between Romney and this woman’s tragic death is substantial, and even if you want to argue the causal culpability of Romney (which one can't, as the Wall Street Journal stated -- Ed.) and Bain, the ad deceitfully condenses the story.
... But the more accurate version of this heartbreaking story is still worth telling. Indeed it may be the best illustration this campaign has offered of how politics affects the lives of ordinary people.
Thus, it would appear that Crowley wishes to lower the bar to enable political campaigns to smear opponents with responsibility for others' deaths without consequence as long as they somehow serve larger narratives (to be clear, I don't, but he apparently does).
Well, if that's the "standard," there's plenty of fertile ground in Barack Obama's 43 months of presidential stewardship for similar claims, including but by no means limited to the following:
- Ethanol. In the midst of a summer drought which is hurting crop yields, the administration's Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Department are resisting calls, even from its beloved United Nations, to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard, which dictates "that 9 percent of their gasoline pools are made up of ethanol this year, which means converting some 40 percent of the corn crop into the biofuel." How many in the U.S. and around the world might die from hunger and malnutrition if the EPA fails to act?
- Energy Costs. Gas prices are heading towards $4 a gallon yet again, making commutes prohibitively expensive for many and affecting companies' ability to hire additional employees. Meanwhile, the administration continues its war on coal, which will, as candidate Obama promised in 2008, cause energy costs to "necessarily skyrocket." Some people will die sooner than they otherwise would have if they can't find work and/or heat or cool their homes adequately.
- Delphi. The linkage here is far more direct. Completely contradicting past denials, recently released documents show that Obama's Treasury Department "was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company" during the 2009 auto company bailouts. The aftermath for those affected has been devastating, up to and including suicides. Meanwhile, "Delphi employees who were members of the United Auto Workers union saw their pensions topped off and made whole." Treasury lied; salaried people, apparently not as worthy of legal protection as politically favored union members, died.
If Team Obama continues going down the "people will die if my opponent is elected" path, Mitt Romney's campaign will need to strike back with direct arguments like Delphi and others. The administration's regime of virtually open borders and the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal would seem to be two obvious additional choices.
This is absolutely not the time for an unchallenged test of whether Obama's strategy of appealing to the ignorant will work.