Do Facts Matter in Presidential Politics?

Copyright JC Politi Photography

I am not going to presume to tell anyone how they should vote next Tuesday on this blog. We all choose to vote for one candidate or another for a wide variety of reasons. I see no problem with diverse points of view and perspectives – in fact, I strongly believe this diversity leads to the best long-term outcomes for the country.

But I am baffled by the latest campaign strategy coming out of the Romney/Ryan campaign. Romney made an incorrect statement at one of his campaign rallies. He said that Chrysler was going to ship their Jeep manufacturing jobs to China.  The company came out with a strongly worded statement that it has no such plans.

Romney made this statement in Ohio, to people who would be deeply impacted if this claim were true.

This was an incorrect statement. But the people at that rally, and others who heard this statement, now have renewed worries that their jobs are for sale to the highest bidder. Despite the fact that the company’s statement makes it clear that this is not the case.

There have been editorials in newspapers all over the country, including in the New York Times and the Denver Post about this issue.

People misspeak, especially at this point in a political campaign – I get that. But I am unclear why the campaign has not corrected the message – in fact the campaign has developed new ads further perpetuating this myth.

It’s no secret that I am voting for Obama in this election. I believe that his cool, steady leadership is what the country needs right now to help steer us out of the quagmire left by the banks. But even if we were not in a critically important time in our economic recovery, Romney’s actions on this particular issue would trouble me.

I believe that facts matter and that character matters in our President. Consistency matters. Truth matters. And the country is in a fragile state of economic recovery right now. I do not want to change captains just as we can see the distant horizon.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Again, I am not telling anyone how to vote. I am simply laying out my thoughts and concerns. I don’t try to change anyone’s mind at this point in an election cycle – in fact, I rarely try to change anyone’s mind about who they plan to vote for because I think it is generally a futile exercise. And I am very open to hearing other perspectives.

Maybe it is my rose-colored glasses, but I truly believe that both parties want to do the right thing for this country and believe their party knows what that right thing is.

But when it comes down to scaring voters with inaccurate statements, for me, it is time to change the channel.

What do you think? Why do you think that Romney has not fixed his inaccurate statement about the Jeep plant in Ohio? Do you think he really believes what he is saying, despite the fact that the company has repeatedly assured its workers that this is not the case? Do you think that the fact checking of debates and campaign ads matters and sways public opinion or do you think that the only thing that matters is what is said at the time of the speech? What am I missing here?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

59 Comments

Filed under Culture, Economy, Politcs, Role of Government

59 responses to “Do Facts Matter in Presidential Politics?

  1. You are too kind, Jen. Romney’s troops are in trouble and they know it. Lies that cause fear will result in the “correct” votes. Don’t expect less of this in the coming week, expect more.

    • Thanks for reading and for the comment, Hugh! It just baffles me. I honestly want to hear from a Romney supporter who can explain why this isn’t troubling to them. Thanks again for the comment!

      • Have you read “Conservatives without conscience” by John Dean? it’s been a while since I read it but he explains it fairly thoroughly. People that are voting for Romney (and who voted for dubya) have blinders on basically. That’s a quick sum-up of John Dean’s book but perhaps you get the gist. People are so dead set against Obama and they believe everything they hear from the other side. They do no fact-checking or even realize that the positions keep changing. Truly baffles the mind.

    • man, I hope you’re right Hugh!! what bothers me is how close the polls have this race. I truly do not understand that! Tuesday can’t come any quicker.

      • Look at the figures for the electoral votes: those are more comforting!

        • yes, yes. wish I could just put blinders on for the next several days. I’m on the edge of my seat!! perhaps alot of us are eh? come on Tuesday!!!

          • He is a mormon, theoferre he is a liar and will suck up to the conservative movement even though he does not support the Tea Party . As with all mormons, it is all about money, control and status. His own state of Mass. has a failed state healthcare program. Also, we do not need Salt Lake City controlling the oval office. You may as well let Obummer stay in the oval office since there is little difference between the two of them.

  2. Does Romney believe what he says? No. I don’t think any educated voter believes what he says. But he knows (hopes) that it resonates with the low-information voter and/or the voter who simply will vote for Anyone But Obama.

    Look back to Romney’s very first campaign ad in which Obama is quoted as saying, “…if we talk about the economy, we are going to lose.” That is a devastating quote. What? That wasn’t the quote in its entirety? There was more…something like, “John McCain says, ‘if we talk about the economy, we are going to lose.'”

    Fact checkers called Mitt out on this and doubled down. But there are voters who either falsely believe in an overwhelming liberal media bias or those that simply hear the ad, but not the fact check.

    The same is true with “you didn’t build that.” I would like to see the receipts from the companies that paid to build the infrastructure used to carry their raw materials and finished goods…how much did these companies pay for the teachers who educated their current employees. But the low information voters, those that hate President Obama, don’t care. So the lies continue.

    Romney is, by all accounts, down in Electoral College projections. So it is desperation time. He needs to throw the Hail Marys and see what will stick.

    More importantly than do people believe his lies, i do not see how anyone trusts Romney. How do you trust someone who says that his MA healthcare program should be the blueprint for the country only to say afterwards that he never said such a thing?

    How do you trust someone who says something behind closed doors to donors and then says something wholly opposite in front of large crowds.

    How do you trust someone who says Roe v Wade is settled law and is supportive of Choice, only to say to another group that he would gladly sign a bill that outlawed all abortions.

    I could go on and on and on, but now i am too fired up.

    Obama has been far from perfect, but my lord, if Romney wins, what does that say about future presidential candidates and campaigns…and the american electorate?

    Too much can happen in four years for Obama voters to pat themselves on the back with “I told you so.” If Romney wins, the budget will not be cut. The deficit will continue to grow. But…BUT…he will get the credit for the job creation all economists predict under current Obama policies.

    How many more days? Ughhh….

    • Carey!!!!!!! You DO read my blog!!!! Yeah, that first ad was a doozy, especially when you hear it in context. I wonder how republicans feel about him right now and some of the inaccuracies and flip flops. Very strange. Thanks for reading, my friend! Readers, Carey is one of my best buds of all times from high school. Welcome to the newsofthetimes conversation, my friend!!!!

    • what Carey said!! just waiting for Tuesday here in the frozen tundra 🙂

  3. Hey Jenni – great post again! I’m with the other who have chimed in so far, I think the hope is to appeal to a less informed segment of the population, and figure that the facts won’t be checked. These are Hail Mary passes…and unfortunately, it will resonate for some – perhaps many. I too am an Obama supported and have already cast an absentee ballot because I was scheduled to be out of town. I will say that I have found this whole campaign season draining, partisan and far more full of disdain than full of accuracy and forethought.

    • Hi Mimi! Thanks so much for your comment! I hope you are recovering from Sandy. I hope you are right…since hail marys rarely work. 😉 I am just so confused about why the election is so close when there have been so many of what I would have to call lies. But I am with you – ready for Wednesday. I hope it is all over by then. With all the voter suppression efforts, I am nervous it might not be. Thanks again for your comment. I am still looking forward to meeting you next month. 🙂

      • a whole post can be made of voter suppression. it is truly disgusting isn’t it?? If you can win legitimately, then cheat. yea, great “values” there eh? such hypocrites!!! I am also disturbed by this “the one with the most money wins”. we need campaign reform like 20 years ago!!

    • “Hail Mary passes” I love that! Very apt!!

  4. I doubt that Romney believes what he is saying about the jeep jobs going to China. He knows he mispeaks the truth, but he is a desperate man. Unfortunately desperate people do desperate things. But in this case, given Romney’s position, he should never deliberately attempt to mislead folks. I don’t believe Romney will win the election, but I’ve been know to be wrong before.

    • I guess that is just so foreign to my understanding of right and wrong that I can’t comprehend it. I also think I am so shocked because I have worked a lot on policy issues and try to tell people that really good people work in politics, but this just perpetuates peoples’ mistrust of the system. And I worry that people are less likely to get involved if they don’t trust the system. That is probably what worried me most about this. Thanks so much for reading and talking time to leave a comment!!

  5. I think telling lies catches up with them sooner or later. I am voting to send our Congressman back home because I repeatedly caught him trying to scare seniors with false statements during town hall meetings. I think maybe others feel the same way because it looks like the other candidate might actually have a chance of winning.

  6. I’m pretty sure that if you let Canada vote for you Obama would win 😉

  7. I’m voting straight democrat like I always do. The misinformation is at the level of insanity and the number of people believing it are growing. I’ve had very educated people repeating insanity to me. I have killed a forrest printing out my fact checks! Come on Tuesday!

    • Amen to that! Hasn’t it been a little out of control? I can’t remember so much misinformation before. There’s always some, but I don’t remember so many blatant inaccuracies in the past. Thanks so much for your comment!

      • I think the last two presidential elections were as bad. Remember the “swift boating” of Kerry? or how about what dubya did to McCain with his ads in South Carolina (I think it was SC, it was a southern state anyway) regarding his “black child”? Ugh, the liars are just despicable!!

        • You’re right. There has been some ugliness in every election. But I don’t remember a person changing their platform as much as Romney did. It seemed like he was standing on a sand castle that would go up and down with the tides. Thanks so much for the comment!

  8. Barneysday

    Of course you have a great post, and I agree with your responders. I think that Romney’s problems go much deeper though. Romney believes in his heart of heart that he is “to the manor, born” and that he deserves the White House, that he is special, and is entitled to live there. As such, he is then free in his concious to say or do anything that he thinks will get him there. It is beyond a belief system of the end justtifies the means; it is almost pathological.

    I always said that in Romney’s case, there is no “there, there.” He has no core other than to sit in the Oval Office, he has no moral belief, he truly believes that the 47% are the unwashed takers, and he has no understanding nor time for them.

    As I asked a strident Romney supporter friend of mine, who lives on a small social security check, does he really believe that multi-millionaire Romney really cares about him?

    Great post

    • Thanks Barney! You have a good point. When you’ve been given everything your whole life on a survey spoon, maybe you feel entitled to do whatever it takes to get whatever you want. Out still baffles me. Thanks again for your comment!

  9. I am what you might call a disillusioned conservative. A two-time Bush voter and McCain voter who last voted for a Democrat in 1992 (Clinton). I bought into the neocon philosophy of nation-building, only to see our reasoning for war and the fruits of it to be bitter for our country. I watched as conservatives pegged their 2006 election hopes on illegal immigration, then get smoked that fall in the mid-terms.

    The same cynicism that guided that election reappeared in 2008, and then even more bitterly in 2010. The Tea Party has taken over conservatism to the point where I don’t even recognize it anymore. I’ve already decided I won’t support any Tea Party candidate. So that settles my congressional picks.

    Similarly, I’ve seen how, in my state, the way Oklahoma politicians have allowed the patrician thinking of social elitists guide tax policy to the point of ruining our schools and state services just so the wealthiest can get tax cuts. In the same vein, on a national level, I’ve seen how current tax policy has blown a hole in the deficit and ballooned the national debt.

    I predict that if Romney wins it will be more of the same. Trickle-down has helped the middle class and poor poke along at cost-of-living income increases for the past 30 years while the top earners have seen their wealth explode. Trickle down has only led to hoarding, not investment. That’s what we’re in for.

    So from a pragmatic standpoint, how can I support that anymore? Answer: I can’t.

    Romney has some momentum, stymied only by Sandy. It’s going to be close. His method of campaigning is that of a salesman, because that’s what he is. He is selling himself to everyone with whatever message he thinks they want to hear. Therein lies the inconsistency. It’s always been that way with him.

    We’ll see if it works. And if it does, it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll actually govern. But he’s going to have to kiss the ring of the oligarchs of the patrician class first.

    Sorry. Rant over.

    • I agree with you too. it was an excellent rant!!

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. And we are all about rants here!! 🙂 I really appreciate you weighing in. I have been very interested to hear from moderate republicans and independents on this. It really is confusing for me. I think it must be frustrating to see your candidate shift so substantially in the debates after saying other things in the primaries. For me, it is less about the actual policies he is espousing (although I vehemently disagree with many of those – especially the ones Paul Ryan is promoting), and more about the shifts, dodges and inaccuracies. I respect someone who stands up for what they believe in, regardless of which side of the political divide. But to me, this is what Romeny is missing. I remember the election when most of the good moderate Republicans were defeated. I remember being sad that day, even though I have been a lifelong Democrat. I knew that was a forecast of storms ahead. And that certainly turned out to be the case. I will be interested to see what the future holds for the Republican party. It seems like their tack to the far right has alienated a lot of people. Thanks agin so much for your very thoughtful comment. I hope you will visit again soon! 🙂 We frequently have great discussions here in the comments section and it sounds like you would have lots to contribute. Thanks again!

  10. Hey, sorry to comment so much up there. I am with you 100% and I find the lies disgusting. I agree with all of the commenters here as well. There are also those “one issue voters”. I have a friend who is voting for Romney because she doesn’t like the way Obama has handled Israel. and she’s very active on facebook to this end. She is a very smart gal but will NOT listen to reason even though I have tried. I finally gave up because, like you, it’s no use trying to convince someone whose mind is made up. I only tried because I know she is smart.

    There are also the “abortion voters”, for lack of a better term. I think you know what I mean. I read this heart-wrenching story found here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/26/1150951/-Raped-by-My-Stepfather-A-Survivor-of-Illegal-Abortion-On-Why-Safe-Legal-Abortion-is-Essential

    and I posted it on facebook…and shortly after that a 30+ year friend unfriended me. I am only guessing that this is the reason. I did post a bunch of other politically related posts the same day and it might have been one of those. I am left very sad that she did this with no explanation. However, I am steadfast in my beliefs and if she cannot accept them then….heavy sigh….oh well.

    again I say: Tuesday can’t come any sooner!!!

    • I hear you. Thanks so much for all of your comments!! The goal of this blog is to create a robust dialogue, so I really appreciate your feedback and perspective. I am sorry to hear about your facebook friend. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be friends in real life. 🙂 I am always fascinated by single issue voters too. I do have friends who vote republican just because of the abortion issue. I suppose that politicans know that and prey on that tendancy at times. To me, it is about so much more than juts one issue. For me, the character and integrity of the person in the Oval Office matters too. And standing for something, while keeping an open mind to a broad range of perspectives. I really appreciate you stopping by and taking time to read and comment. I hope you’ll visit again soon. We have a great little close-knit community here and I hope you will join in! Thanks again!

      • oh well, alrighty then!! I’m not fascinated by one issue voters, I am rather frustrated by them. I mean, to me, it’s awfully selfish to vote this way. what about the good of the country, the world? Doesn’t that matter to these people? It seems not. they have their blinders on and that’s all that matters to them.

        I meant to comment up above to someone how the Republican party has changed. Reminds me of what Stephanie Miller says constantly on her radio show (Air America, do you ever listen to her? she’s hysterical and very smart and on the “correct” side). and that is that her father, William Miller who was Goldwater’s running mate, would not recognize his party today. so true, they’re so radical now!!

        I swore I wouldn’t get into politics here on WordPress as I get enough of that at dailykos (where the diary I linked above is from). ah but…I guess I am who I am wherever I go huh? thanks for having the discussions. I will likely post again!

        • It is hard to avoid at this time of year, especially if you have a platform to share your thoughts. I agree – we are who we are and at this time of the year, I actually think it is important to speak up about it! Thanks again for your comments!

  11. Love the post and so many wonderful comments.
    My current theory is that at this stage it is all about getting out the vote. I will be knocking on doors this afternoon to encourage people to use their vote. I have had at least 12 phone messages this week from Republicans and the same number of emails from Democrats.
    So the Governor’s message is meant to get feet to the poles not to convince someone to change their mind. So someone who does not like the President but is not passionate about Mr. Romney will be disgusted enough to be motivated to stand in long lines on a cold day.

    • Hi Katie!! I couldn’t agree more. I can tell you the Obama ground game in Boulder is impressive right now. I don’t know if Obama will win in Colorado – it is a pretty conservative state, but it won’t be for lack of effort. Good for you for pounding the pavement. I am going to do the same this weekend and on Tuesday. I really think Obama’s community organizing background helps a lot with the GOTV efforts and grassroots efforts. Some of the strategies they are using have the obvious imprint of classic community organizing models. Which I think every Presidential candidate should use because it is a great way to engage and motivate people. Thanks again for your comment, Katie. Good luck with your outreach efforts!!

  12. I will be so glad when the last ballot is counted and we can settle this thing. I have watched Mitt Romney flip flop more times on issues than I can count. I don’t trust him and worry people my parents age and other family members are just voting for him because he’s the only choice and they just want to get rid of Obama. Is it because Obama is black and Romney is white (skinned as his heritiage is ironically latino). Why people are even considering Romney as an option is a mystery to me. He is going to be a placeholder to undo all Obama’s done so another Democrat can come behind and clean up his mess.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. I can’t help but believe that there are a number of Republicans who are even more frustrated with the flip flops. If you are going to stand for something – stand for it. I am afraid that he will really be a figurehead for the Tea Party, especially with Ryan as his running mate. But who knows…anyway, I am ready to have it over too. It makes me too nervous with the polls so close and all the waiting. And while I love my Facebook feed thanks to my brilliant politically active friends, I know it wears on people who are less interested in one side or the other. Thanks again for your comment!! And for reading!

  13. Jenni, great post. I will keep this brief as there are great comments above. The best thing I could say about Romney and the GOP platform is it is built on a weak foundation. What I have said in two posts, it is actually built on a foundation of big, hairy, audacious lies. Global warming is not a hoax, we are one of the least taxed countries in the world at 10% beneath the average of 34 countries per the OECD, the stimulus did not fail it actually worked, our allies hold us in higher esteem, Obama has done a better job than given credit for with job growth, Romney’s tax plan will increase the deficit, and my personal favorite, Obamacare is largely a GOP idea that Romney did in Mass. Yet, my wife says it best – “I don’t believe a word that man says.” Ditto for me. Please tell people the following – remember, it is all about Mitt. BTG

    • Thanks for the comment BTG!! Anyone who wants to read more, should check out BTG’s blog musings of an old fart – his analyses are always reasoned and backed by solid data – two of my favorite qualities in a political blog! Thanks again BTG!

  14. beth.corrigan@verizon.net

    This picture is incredible.  Where did you take it?  

  15. What they all said, Jen! While one expects a certain amount of dissembling and prevarication from politicians, Romney is an outright liar. As much as Obama has been a disappointment to his enthusiastic 2008 supporters, he does, at least, have the decency to bend, skirt, avoid the truth and not outright lie to our faces. Once the votes are cast, I urge all citizens to continue to keep that foot up their elected representatives’ collective and individual butts: follow the voting records on an issue close to your heart, and e-mail, call, fax to let the representative know your opinion of that vote. Giving our elected officials feedback only at the ballot box is not often enough to effect change! And, everyone who qualifies: get out and vote! xoM

  16. Thanks Jenni. As noted in “The Help” you are kind, you are smart and you are important. Take care.

  17. I liked the problem dntieifion (would have preferred more examples I know, always the critic) Politics is a hot button item currently and you nailed the problem. I like the concept and would like to see a sample of what you plan to offer.Anything I can do to support, let me know. Just remember, I may not be your target demographic.

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