The Principal Themes of the RNC Convention are Built on Lies and Misrepresentations

I get that it is very common for partisans to see their opponents as lying liars. So I’d like for some conservatives to explain to me why I shouldn’t view Romney’s campaign as objectively far more deceptive and misleading than Obama’s.

Here’s how I see it: Except for the economy, which is fair game, nearly the entirety of Romney’s campaign is built on demonstrable lies.

Listening to the RNC Convention last night really underscored this point, as aptly summarized by the Washington Post’s fact-checker.

I agree with Kessler that what Romney has done with “you didn’t build that” is the equivalent of transforming Romney’s out-of-context “I like to fire people” into the entire basis for a campaign. Worse, the other apparent pillars of attack are that Obama eliminated work requirements for welfare (which is as false as saying Romney wants to kill anyone who is unemployed), and that Obama went on an “Apology Tour,” a third unequivocal lie.

There has been deception from both sides. But Romney’s deception comes from his campaign as much as Super PACS, is the central theme of his convention (with virtually every speech tied to “you didn’t build that,” and more blatantly false. Only Romney’s campaign is principally built on lies. He did indeed build that.

Republicans: Do you think both sides are just as bad, or think Romney is actually better than Obama on this score? Do you think all’s fair in politics and the ends justify the means? I’m curious to hear how you are processing all of this. In your view, are the welfare attacks not lies?

I was stunned when I found out last week that the theme of the entire 2012 Republican National Convention was going to be a quote taken out of context. Had Obama said “these” when referring to roads, bridges and the internet, the whole thing wouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) he said “that” meaning infrastructure as a whole not the components.

This will be a test of the Goebbels-Rove Big Lie approach to politics. They are lying, everyone who knows the facts knows they’re lying and they’re going full steam ahead regardless. If they (and their $2 billion) can get away with it this year, we’ll never see the end. Will mainstream media outlets have the courage to call them out? And even if they do, have the continuous GOP-Fox accusations against “lamestream” media defanged it and made the nation immune to the truth?

Even worse, we can probably expect the Democrats to go the same sorry route in the future unless there is a stunning repudiation of the approach.

Regretably, we on the left don’t have that much imagination, we are stuck with what they actually say and do. Damn. Nasty break for us, huh?

As I said in the OP, I don’t think “the left’s” hands are clean on this score. I think the “Bain killed my wife” ad is misleading, and I think the “I like to fire people” stuff was clearly taken out of context. But neither of those form the core of Obama’s campaign the way Romney has adopted lies and deception as his campaign’s central pillars.

I half-suspect that the GOP’s outrage over the Bain ad has led them to believe that it is acceptable to just outright lie about Obama (welfare ad) and misrepresent his position (“You didn’t build that”) as the core themes of their campaign.

I’m sure the right wingers will be along shortly to point out the speck in a Democrat’s eye which justifies the beams in all Republicans’ eyes.

They lie because it works. Romney can’t run on his record as governor, he can’t run on his time at Bain, and he sure as hell can’t run on his personality. All he can do is try to bring Obama down to his level. If he thinks he can get away with trying to get people to believe that Obama wants to take all the white people’s money and give it to blacks, that’s what he’s going to do. If he can take a soundbite out of context and play it nonstop for eight more weeks, that’s what he’s going to do.

Can you explain in a bit more detail why imputing “you didn’t build that” to Obama is so unfair?

As I see, it, the quote is marginally out of context, but in general terms represents something Obama and the Left as a whole embraces: that individual achievements are only possible because society is there to help you, in some indirect but critical way, and that this fact justifies imposing some sort of “give it back” requirement upon the successful.

Over the past years, I have been in more than a few discussions here on why I regarded my own modest successes as … well… my own. And the constant theme in those discussions has been frantic efforts to point to things from society which supposedly helped me. I don’t find that an alien view to ascribe to the Left at all.

You know perfectly well that “you didn’t build that” was taken from its context, beaten, raped, and left to die behind the Capitol Building, Bricker, and your continued support of the GOP’s lie reflects very poorly on you and supports the meme that lawyers will say anything, regardless of its truth, to win.

You can claim to be self-made if:

You didn’t attend public K-12 schools.
You didn’t attend a public university.
You didn’t get scholarships funded with public money.
You didn’t take out federal student loans.
The person paying for your education did not work for the government or a government contractor.
You do not work for the government in any capacity nor take any government money.
Your employer did not start his business with the help of government-provided infrastructure, federal loans, or tax breaks.
Your employees were not educated in public K-12 schools or public universities.

If you can honestly say the above are true in your case, then I’ll say congratulations on being a true self-made person. If you can’t, then the only difference between you and a welfare mom is degree of reliance on public money.

Sure. Quite simply, your account of how it is being used is inaccurate.

The GOP is not characterizing the remarks as “that individual achievements are only possible because society is there to help you, in some indirect but critical way, and that this fact justifies imposing some sort of ‘give it back’ requirement upon the successful.” Instead, it is being characterized as saying that the entrepreneur didn’t build the business–in Romney’s words that “Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple Computer or that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft or that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor Company or that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s.” It’s being characterized as an attack of private industry. Here’s what Obama has actually said about Steve Jobs: “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the Internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.”

What Obama said right after the “you didn’t build that” phrase was that “[w]e succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.” The Romney campaign is making every effort to characterize the remarks as attacking that first phrase.

Non-misleadingly characterized, the remarks have two premises. The first is that no individual is solely responsible for his own success. That premise is utterly indisputable. Romney is on record agreeing with that sentiment. The second premise is that this fact is meaningful when considering what the tax rates on upper-income brackets should be. That second premise is, as you suggest, completely disputable.

A non-misleading way to attack the quote would be to argue that government infrastructure is not in fact necessary for business, or to argue that the fact that such infrastructure is necessary should not tell us anything about what individuals owe to their government. That would constitute a campaign about issues. That is not at all how the Romney campaign is using the quote.

There are those on the right who are even lying about that. I had Limbaugh on the radio as I went to lunch (guilty pleasure; yelling at my radio, that is) and he said, “Why haven’t the media taken Obama to task for accusing Romney of being a murder.”

Never happened. Not even close. The ad did not come from Obama’s campaign; it was not authorized by the Obama campaign; and the ad itself didn’t even accuse Romney of being a murderer. At worst they accused him negligence and complicity.

Using a mendacious misrepresentation as a convention theme is unprecedented. It isn’t surprising from a campaign that, in regards to the overt lies they are running on regarding welfare, recently acknowledged that they are not going to let fact checkers run their campaign.

As others have said, it they’re running a post-truth campaign, and are basically daring people to call them out.

it would be a nice change if that is all they accused Obama of saying, but in reality they are saying Obama is denying all claim to building a business, which he categorically is not. They are not making the distinction, that even Romney has pointed out that, success is a combination of hard work, intelligence and a society which has provided an infrastructure for you to succeed. If THAT is what they want to argue about, that’s fine, because that more accurately reflects Obama’s position (and mine) and you can fairly disagree with his actual position if you like. Not some made-up lie about how there is no entrepreneurship or individual effort because that is not what he said and that is not what ANYBODY truly believes.

BTW, how insane is that there were several speakers yesterday extolling the “We built this” theme based on the millions of dollars of government grants and loans they got to build their business.

Even the “we built this” construction is a little odd, since it indicates a collective effort to achieve a single outcome.

Because Obama clearly meant that the business owners didn’t build the infrastructure and education systems that helped the owners’ success. The Republican take on it is that Obama is saying that the business owners didn’t build the business itself.

What Obama said:
“There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

And, if you listen to it, you can hear the emphasis on “that” in “build that”, which makes it obvious (to me) that he’s referring to the roads and bridges. Really, give it a listen.

What the Republicans edit to:
“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

Implying that Obama is saying that the small businessman didn’t build his own business at all.

ETA: Whoa this thread is moving fast. Sorry if what I wrote duplicates previous answers!

And, if your business requires roads or internet connections, you built those yourself, and you protect your own shipping lanes, and launch your own weather satellites, hire your own defense force…


Don’t they see that what they’re doing is utilizing a socialist talking point as their convention slogan?

I agree with them, by the way. We did build this, not one person by alone. They just proved the president’s point.

I was surprised to see Rick Santorum still using the “Obama gutted welfare reform” line…

And more suprised to hear that some Repubicans were disappointed because they were told that the welfare subject would be the bulk of his speech.

I found myself talking back to the T.V… “Really?! That’s all you’ve got?!”

It’s a devious tactic I’ve seen Romney use more than once. By pretending Obama said something he didn’t actually say, Romney can then proceed to steal Obama’s actual and eminently reasonable message.

Obama: “America is great because people worked together to build the infrastructure that allows private companies to succeed.”

Romney: “Obama says you didn’t build your own companies, that the government did! Well I say that America is great because people worked together to build the infrastructure that allows private companies to succeed! What do you say to that, Mister President?”

I agree that the welfare attack is the more egregious deception since it isn’t just a deliberate mischaracterization, but an outright lie likely intended to stoke racial divisions. They’ve now said that it is their most effective ad, and judging by last night, will be central to their fall strategy.

But I want to reinforce what I tried to say in the OP, which is that I’m trying to acknowledge my own biases here and see the issues as a conservative would, so I’m hoping Bricker or another conservative might address this issue as well.

That is not the premise of the “We Built It” mantra. The premise is that Obama is somehow denying that you had much to do with your success at all, that you are the beneficiary of a windfall that society gave to you. And thats not just dishonest, its stupid to try and base a campaign on a phrase taken out of context.