Negative advertising too often gets a bad rap in American politics. Journalists and the public at large never cease to moan and complain about how politicians throw mud at one another, trying to tear one another apart in 30 second spots with scary music and threatening voice-overs. The reality is attack ads are an important part of campaigns. They demonstrate differences, make legitimate criticisms of opponents and show the mettle of the candidate under attack. The latest ad run by Priorities USA (the pro-Obama super PAC), however, has no place in politics. By not calling for this ad to be pulled immediately, President Obama has demonstrated to what extent he is prepared to demean his office. If this is the ‘new politics’ he promised, then sign me up for a double order of Karl Rove.
The ad is a one minute distasteful and dishonest exploitation of a clearly vulnerable man with no other purpose than to mislead the American people. Joe Soptic, a former steel worker, is the star of this abomination. In it he tells the story of how Mitt Romney and Bain Capital closed the plant where he worked, causing him to lose his health insurance. His wife was then diagnosed with cancer and died soon after (22 days) because they were unable to afford treatment without insurance. According to Soptic, Mitt Romney has ‘no idea’ what closing the plant meant for people, and neither apparently does he care.
How about some facts then:
1. The plant was closed in 2001, Mitt Romney left operational control of Bain in 1999 and so was in no way involved in the decision to close the plant.
2. Closing the plant, considering it was making a loss, is the right of the partnership that owned it. They offered placement services to their former employees and health benefits were only withdrawn on a staggered timetable.
3. Mr Soptic’s wife was diagnosed with cancer 5 years after the plant closed, not 22 days.
4. Mr Soptic did in fact find new long-term work between the closure of the plant and his wife’s diagnosis.
5. Mr Soptic’s wife was not even on his insurance plan from the plant ! ! !
It is appropriate to pause a moment. This election is in early August and the supporters of the incumbent are actually claiming his opponent is directly responsible for the death of this woman. How depraved are the people running Priorities USA ? What kind of allegations will they be making come October?
Joe Soptic is dissembling regarding the illness and death of his wife. Considering the grief and pain he must feel over her passing, he cannot really be held responsible for that. It is undeniable however that he insults his wife’s memory by lying about her death to try and gain political advantage for his candidate. As for those who went looking for this man, who prepped him to lie on national television and who sat around giving one another high fives for accusing Romney of causing this woman’s death, one can feel nothing but contempt for them.
In national elections, selective quotes and semi-honest campaign ads are to be expected. They are often hugely successful. This ad, however, has no place in politics. The people running the super PAC in question should know better. President Obama simply has to condemn this ad completely and unequivocally.
Governor Romney is not responsible for that woman’s death. There are no two ways about it. To allege it is offensive, childish and dishonest. If this is the way Obama and his allies want to play it, then it is time American Crossroads, Restore Our Future and any other pro-Romney PACs really took off the gloves. If the President is prepared to demean his office by allowing his supporters to spread vicious, inexcusable lies about the actions of Governor Romney, then the Republicans should fight fire with fire. Dig up a video of Reverend Wright ranting about Jews and then say Obama wrote the sermon for him; that is the level of dishonesty the Obama supporters are engaging in.
Governor Romney has been hugely successful in business, investing in companies and leveraging others. Some produced jobs and some went bankrupt. He retired from Bain Capital in 1999 and was not involved in closing the plant. The wife of Mr Soptic was diagnosed half a decade later, and had never previously relied on the health insurance from her husband’s employment. Her death while tragic, is nothing to do with Mitt Romney. The Romney family have themselves battled cancer, and are major supporters of LDS initiatives to support cancer treatment. How low a human being must you be to charge him with this?
This ad is the most outrageous and unjustifiable attack that this reporter has ever witnessed in modern Western politics. If President Obama does not condemn it, he is not fit to serve.