The New York Times seems quite impressed with the latest attack ad from Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which is poised to blanket the airwaves in swing states. The Times calls it "deeply researched," "delicately worded," and "low key."
The paper neglected to mention another phrase: misleading to an offensive degree.
Jamelle Bouie had a good take on this:
As befitting a Karl Rove outfit, the claims in the ad are either misleading, or outright falsehoods. Citing a Reuters story from 2009 on conservative efforts to sink the bill, Crossroads GPS insinuates that the stimulus was a failure, despite wide consensus that the bill kept United States out of a depression, and significantly improved prospects for recovery.The ad continues in this vein, blaming high insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act — when the cited article says otherwise — and blaming Obama for the increase in debt, despite the fact that under his administration, government spending has risen at a slower pace than any time in the last 60 years.
Indeed, the great irony of the ad is that it's Karl Rove attacking Obama for the fiscal policies the president inherited from Rove's old boss.
The Times write-up focuses on the ad's efficacy, and I suppose it's possible uninformed voters who are easily swayed by nonsense, policy gibberish, and outright falsehoods will find it compelling.
But perhaps now would be a good time to note that efficacy and honesty aren't the same thing, and the latter matters more than the former.
The Crossroads attack ad is as cynical as politics can get, working from the assumption that voters are fools.
It talks about bailouts, assuming voters won't know it was Bush/Cheney that rescued Wall Street before Obama took office.
It talks about debt, assuming voters don't know Mitt Romney's agenda would raise the debt far more than Obama's agenda would.
It talks about student loans, assuming voters don't know that Obama expanded Pell Grants and Romney wants to scrap student loans altogether.
It talks about "job-killing debt," which as a policy matter, is just idiocy.
It lies about the stimulus; it lies about spending; it lies about health care.
If Obama were such a terrible failure, shouldn't his Republican critics rely on truths for their attack ads? Why make stuff up if the facts are supposed to be so damning?
As for the indifference to Crossroads' dishonesty, the political world has become inured to the constant lying, and it's not a healthy development. As Bouie concluded, "It's not hard to find an independent evaluation of each claim, and yet, it's rare that news outlets challenge the Romney campaign -- or Republicans in general -- on any of it. The GOP is running the most mendacious presidential campaign in recent memory, and the collective response has been a shrug."