Friday, January 25, 2008

Hillary is a negative campaigner (Part 2), and she twists the truth.

Part 1 of Hillary as negative campaigner can be found here. That post references a poll of voters who considered Hillary to be the most negative campaigner, but now I present an actual example of her negative campaigning. Now, some of you might not consider the ad I am about to describe as negative. However, I consider it negative for two reasons: 1) it attempts to put Obama in a negative light, and 2) more to the point, the ad deliberately twists the truth.

A few days before the Nevada caucuses, Obama sat down for an extended interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal. In that interview, he talked about Ronald Reagan, the effect he had on government, and what the Republican party did during that time. Before showing exactly what Obama said, let's take a look at Hillary's ad.

Via TPM Election Central, here is the text of the ad:
VOICE-OVER: Listen to Barack Obama last week talking about Republicans.

BARACK OBAMA: The Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years.

VO: Really? Aren’t those the ideas that got us into the economic mess we’re in today? Ideas like special tax breaks for Wall Street. Running up a $9 trillion debt. Refusing to raise the minimum wage or deal with the housing crisis. Are those the ideas Barack Obama’s talking about?

BO: The Republicans were the party of ideas.

VO: Hillary Clinton thinks this election is about replacing disastrous Republican ideas with new ones, like jump-starting the economy. Putting an immediate freeze on foreclosures and mortgages. Cutting taxes for the middle class. And creating millions of new jobs. With the economy in crisis, we need a president with the ideas, the solutions that get our economy working for all of us. Hillary Clinton. Solutions for America.
As Greg Sargent said, "The Hillary ad implies--without quite stating outright--that Obama said he favored specific GOP ideas, which he didn't really do, though he did say that the GOP's ideas ran counter to 'conventional wisdom.'" And that gets to the heart of the matter. This Hillary ad clearly--and intentionally--sends the message that Obama thought that those Republican ideas were good ones. And the truth of the matter is that Obama said no such thing.

From Hillary's web site, here is the transcript of what Obama said:
I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think, for example, that the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the direction of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60’s and the 70’s and, you know, government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. And I think people just tapped into – he tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing, alright?

I think Kennedy, 20 years earlier, moved the country in a fundamentally different direction. So I think a lot of it just has to do with the times; I think we’re in one of those times right now, where people feel like things as they are going aren’t working. That we’re bogged down in the same arguments that we’ve been having, and they’re not useful. And the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out. I mean, there’s - I think it’s fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10-15 years in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom.
(emphasis added). For any Hillary supporters out there, please point out where Obama said he agreed with the Republican ideas or said that he thought they were good ideas. Anyone? Bueller? And before you answer, please explain why Obama's statement that "the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out" does not show that he was not praising those Republican ideas. And if you have answer for that, then please reconsider your answer in light of the statements that Hillary left out, namely "Now, you’ve heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they’re being debated among the presidential candidates and it’s all tax cuts. Well, you know, we’ve done that, we tried it." In other words, today's GOP candidates are proposing some of those same ideas from the Reagan era, and Obama is saying we have already done that and it won't work now.

I have to admit that Obama's statements do not expressly say the meaning I have given them, and I think he should be criticized for that. However, for Hillary to say in any way that Obama was praising Reagan and the Republicans is just false.

Now I know what some of you Hillary supporters are thinking...Hillary's ad did not specifically say that Obama was agreeing with or praising the Republicans. Well, that just shows yet another way Hillary is just like Bush. As I have pointed out before, part of the Bush administration SOP is to make statements that do not expressly say some things but nonetheless are clearly intended to have that express meaning.

Moreover, based on what Hillary and Bill said before this ad aired, it is clear that Hillary intended to make people think that Obama was praising Reagan and the Republicans. On January 18, Hillary said this:
I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That's not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years.
Later that same day, here's what Bill said:
Her principal opponent said that since 1992, the Republicans have had all the good ideas.
I can't imagine any Democrat seeking the presidency would say they were the party of new ideas for the last 15 years. But it sounded good in Reno I guess. So now it turns out you can choose between somebody who thinks our ideas or better or the Republicans had all the good ideas.
Now I know what some of you Hillary supporters are thinking...Obama's statements were ambiguous enough to justify Hillary's and Bill's interpretations, so there is nothing wrong with her ad. Funny thing about that...practically no one else thought those interpretations were fair or reasonable. For a rundown of some of the opinions counter to the Clintons', check out this page at Obama's website. Here are the highlights:
  • ABC News: "But let's be clear -- Bill Clinton is spreading demonstrably false information."
  • Annenberg Foundation's FactCheck.Org: "We can't speak to how things 'came across' to Clinton, but we've listened to the entire interview and to our ears, it's just flatly false that Obama said he 'really liked the ideas of the Republicans.'"
  • Washington Post Fact Checker: "It seems clear that the former President has overstated the case against Obama in a way that distorts his original arguments."
  • Ben Smith: "Obama didn't say Republican ideas are good ideas."
  • George Stephanopoulos: "Now, clearly there, he did take Obama's words beyond what Obama said[.]"
And recall that Stepanopoulos was a key member of Bill's campaign and Bill's senior White House adviser for policy and strategy. All of the above analyses were done BEFORE Hillary aired her ad. And she aired the ad in spite of the overwhelming weight of opinion felt she and Bill were wrong.

So, she not only went negative in her campaign, she conveniently left out other things Obama and twisted the truth.

Next up: more reasons why Hillary's position is bullshit.


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