Saturday, April 21, 2012

1984 finally arrives...thanks President Obama

A little over two months ago, Obama For America--the President's reelection team--announced the launching of a new website: Truth Team. The goal of this effort seems to be clearly stated, right on the homepage:
The Truth Team is a network of supporters of President Obama who are committed to responding to unfounded attacks and defending the President’s record. When you’re faced with someone who misrepresents the truth, you can find all the facts you need right here—along with ways to share the message with whoever needs to hear it.
Fair enough. There's a lot of misrepresentation out there--from all quarters--and exposing such things is a justifiable goal, even if we know that these expositions will likely misrepresent things too, politics being what it is.

The Truth Team has three branches: Attack Watch, Keeping GOP Honest, and Keeping His Word.

The first of these--Attack Watch--is supposedly geared towards exposing false attacks on the President and his record. The most recent entry here is about Romney's recent statement to Larry Kudlow that "the number of new business start-ups has dropped by 100,000 a year under President Obama, and that’s costing us a lot of jobs." Attack Watch would have us believe this is completely false, that there are more start-ups, not fewer. But it's easy enough to find evidence supporting Romney's claim, from the New York Times of all places:
68,490 more businesses closed in 2009 than in 2007, an 11.6 percent increase in the business closure rate. But in 2009, 115,795 fewer employer businesses were founded than in 2007, a 17.3 percent decline in firm formation.
Now, that's just one year. Perhaps the other two years look better. But the point is, Romney's claim is not clearly true, nor clearly false. The Truth Team would have us believe it's the latter, though. And again, this is both understandable and predictable, as it's a partisan effort.

The third branch--Keeeping His Word--is troubling to me, in terms of the language chosen: "His Word." A little too Biblical, in my opinion. But that aside, this branch is about demonstrating that Obama has been fulfilling his campaign--and other--promises, despite the claims elsewhere that he has not. Of course, we already have a good website for such fact-checking: The Obameter at Politifact. The current scorecard shows 35% of promises "kept," 12% "broken," 13% "stalled," 11% "compromised," and 28% "in the works." That leaves a lot of room for valid criticisms, I think. And with regard to some of the "broken" ones, there's just not much of a defense, like closing Guantanamo (which has probably angered more people on the Left than on the Right). I'm betting the Truth Team will avoid ones like this, at all costs.

Finally, we have Keeping GOP Honest. The goal of this branch is to fact check Republicans' claims about their own records. Mostly, it's geared towards attacking Romney these days, though in the past it has addressed other Republicans. But check out the latest piece: Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney’s donors. The intro:
As the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney is relying on a cadre of high-dollar and special-interest donors to fund his campaign. Giving information about his real policy intentions and high-level access for cash, Romney and Republicans are working hard to pull in as much money as they can from wealthy lobbyists, corporations, and PACs. But just who are the people that Romney has called on for campaign cash?
The piece then goes on to list and slime eight people who are major contributors to Romney's campaign. Not politicians, but private individuals with a variety of backgrounds. About one, the bit makes a point of noting that he is a lobbyist for energy and oil companies. Another is an oil company executive. And a third made money from trading oil futures. And these facts about private individuals are supposed to make us shake our heads and go "shame, shame on Romney. Can you say hypocrisy? When Obama was seeking office, who raised money for him? That's right:
Two of Obama’s bundlers are top executives at oil companies and are listed on his Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the presidential hopeful.
But such hypocrisy is so commonplace as to be standard fare. The real problem with the piece is the "naming of names," of putting up lists on the internet of people who dare to support the other guy. Heritage calls it an "Enemies List" and points out that each name on the list was tweeted out by @TruthTeam2012 to followers. Check 'em out.

So, what we have here is a "Truth Team" whose mission is to slime and intimidate private citizens who dare to support someone other than President Obama. What reason is there to suppose that such lists will end at these eight? How far down the list of Romney donors will the President's team go? Be careful, you may be the next one targeted.

Cheers, all.


  1. too poor to be a target...

    but on the "job creation / loss" score card, I have a pet, and he goes by the moniker "Peaves".

    there is never complete information from any single source. here you can sum the jobs "created" with those "lost" ( as a negative ) and come up with a number. so what?

    in terms of "the economy" you need to translate that into wages - gain or loss. and that would only be a starting point, since the "electronic dollar isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on."

    boob bait for the bubbas is all they are willing to feed us. kind of tells you what "they" think of "us, does it not?


  2. I agree, Roy: it's all too easy to manipulate stats in various ways to get a result.

    But the idea that--for three years--there has been all kinds of new business growth in the last three years just doesn't past the smell test. Doesn't mean it's Obama's "fault," of course, but he certainly doesn't have a handle on the economy. That much is certain.