KNIGHT: Slinging mud from the Soptic tank
Public figures’ records are fair game in political campaigns. It’s not “mudslinging” unless it’s untrue or employs “derogatory personal slurs,” according to the Living Webster Dictionary.
If you lie or distort the facts so badly that they function as a lie, you’re mudslinging. The current “Joe Soptic” TV ad by Obama supporters claiming that Mitt Romney caused a woman’s cancer death fits that description.
In 1964, Democrats set the bar viciously low with the notorious “Daisy Girl” ad showing a little girl adorably counting off daisy petals just before a countdown to a nuclear blast, which ended in a mushroom cloud. The grim narrator urged people to “vote for President Johnson on Nov. 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”
Although Republican candidate Barry Goldwater was not mentioned, the message was clear: Goldwater’s “extremism” would blow up the world. If anything, Goldwater was a dove compared to the man who plunged America headlong into the Vietnam War, but the ad scared enough people to contribute significantly to LBJ’s landslide.
The same kind of creative minds that gave us the “Daisy Girl” are back at it, so fasten your seat belts. When Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, presented his case for budget reform in 2011, Democrats produced a TV ad featuring a Ryan look-alike pushing a confused old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff as the narrator falsely accused Republicans of wanting to completely privatize Medicare. With “America the Beautiful” playing eerily, viewers saw her dumped off and falling.
Just when you thought that kind of smear couldn’t be topped, a liberal PAC headed by former White House spokesman Bill Burton unveiled an ad last week accusing Mr. Romney of causing a woman to die of cancer. Joe Soptic, a lifetime Democrat and union member who had been laid off by GST Steel, owned at the time by Bain Capital, stares into the camera and tells how his wife died of cancer after Bain let him go. He blames Mr. Romney. If you didn’t know the facts, you might be itching to take Mr. Romney out into an alley and work him over, or worse.
Following an uproar, the White House denied any knowledge of the ad or even of Mr. Soptic’s story, according to Politico. Those prevarications unraveled when it turned out that Mr. Soptic had told the story during an Obama campaign conference call led by deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter in May and even had starred in an Obama campaign ad, also in May.
Asked on Aug. 8 about the recent ad, produced by the far-left Priorities USA Action, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he didn’t “know the specifics.” Ms. Cutter actually said, “I don’t know the facts about when Mr. Soptic’s wife got sick or the facts about his health insurance.” Finally, traveling press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One that “we don’t have any knowledge of the story of the family,” according to Yahoo! News.
After the absurd denials were exposed, more inconvenient facts leaked out:
Mrs. Soptic had health insurance from her own employer until she lost her job in 2003 when she was injured. Later, she was diagnosed with cancer and died in 2006.
Even with the lies exposed, Priorities USA is still refusing to pull the ad. After all, it’s powerful — it makes Mr. Romney look as compassionate as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
What counts is whether the ad works, not whether it’s true. In his 1972 book “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky, the guiding light of left-wing community organizers, advises activists to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
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