About three weeks ago, far-right activists got pretty worked up about a video featuring the "Obama phone" woman. The gist of the clip was simple: an excited woman supports the president, she says, in large part because Obama helped her afford a cell phone.
The story quickly fizzled into irrelevance when we realized that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were responsible for the phone program, and to suggest that Obama is somehow creating government dependency -- or worse, bribing voters -- is plainly absurd.
But as it turns out, the story hasn't gone away. Dave Weigel reported yesterday that a new right-wing super PAC called the Tea Party Victory Fund edited the clip, turned it literally into black and white, lined up some financial backers, and created an ugly attack ad suggesting President Obama has "enslaved" Americans. From the super PAC's fundraising appeal:
This is it -- this is the October surprise. We just need to get this ad on television today. Will you help us?This commercial is a microcosm of the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans want to create an environment where free people make their own choices and pursue their dreams. President Obama and the Democrats want to create a dependency on Government that ensures that Americans will continue to rely on Washington from cradle to grave.
That Republican presidents created the phone programs is irrelevant. Right-wing activists are so eager to use ugly smears, they assume the public won't know the difference, and they may very well be right. Indeed, the Tea Party Victory Fund's appeal concludes, "If swing voters in this state see this ad, they simply will not support President Obama, and he will lose Ohio."
And to that end, this ad is airing this week in Ohio's Lucas, Summit, and Mahoning counties -- "all of which are predominantly white." Imagine that.
I don't know who's going to win the presidential election three weeks from today, but I do know many of Mitt Romney's allies are willing to do some incredibly sleazy things to get him into power.