Friday, August 10, 2012

Yo, Joe! (Soptic.)

Have you seen this political ad from the Obama campaign? (Well, not actually from the campaign, but from an unaffiliated super-pac.)

Apparently, it's been the cause of some concern. Joe Soptic, the factory worker whose wife tragically died after he lost his insurance coverage after being laid off by Bain Capital, tells the world that he doesn't feel that Romney understands what he puts everyday people through in his business decisions. But Joe's wife died several years after his job with Bain ended. Everyone in the media, from ABC to CNN, is calling the ad "misleading."

I disagree.

Think I'm biased from the outset? Think I'm just being an Obama bunny? I think I can convince you otherwise. It's one thing when Fox News distorts the facts. It's quite another when the three major "rabbit-ear" networks and CNN join in on the error. I'm going to make my case that Joe Soptic is absolutely right, and the Obama campaign has nothing to fear from this ad. There are two main criticisms about why the ad is inaccurate. I will deal with them both individually.

Criticism 1: The Soptic ad states that his wife died several years after Joe had left the factory that was shut down by Bain. This much is true, in as far as it goes. But it really isn't about when she died, is it? No, it's about when she got sick.

The ad clearly states that when she went in for a hospital visit years later for pneumonia, they discovered that she had stage 4 cancer. You simply don't need to be a doctor to know that stage 4 comes after many years of having the cancer inside your body.

You see, as Joe told us (were you paying attention during the ad), his wife got sick right after the time he was downsized by Bain. That means, were he to have had insurance in 2001 or 2002 (his factory was shut down in 2001), his wife's cancer would have been detected early, and she might well have survived.

So how is this ad misleading about his wife? It isn't. Let me state again: It's not about when she died, it's about when she got sick.

Criticism 2: Soptic was given the ax after Romney had already left Bain Capital to work for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Well, maybe. We've heard the debate about whether he was really at Bain Capital  in 2002 and 2003 before. It's true that Romney probably wasn't doing much for Bain actively at that time, but he was still listed as their CEO and Board Chairman. Why? Well, probably because it assuaged stockholder fears about the company. But if Romney got paid for being CEO, then he was responsible, at least partly, for Joe's predicament. If he took the money, then he took at least some of the responsibility. (Part of why he might never release his tax returns; they would reveal whether or not he was paid by Bain during those years, and if he was...)

Is Romney responsible for the death of Joe's wife? No. The cancer is. Romney is merely culpable for the loss of the insurance which allowed the cancer to kill her. But isn't that what ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC should be reporting? The truth about the ad is not hard to figure out. Yet reporters are apparently so used to political ads being misleading that they don't recognize a legitimate one anymore when someone aims a cleverly framed criticism at it. We can all relate. We're all so jaded about political ads that we usually dismiss an ad as false when someone on the other side of the political argument bitches about it. But that's no excuse for professionals in the field getting fooled by this. We, the public, don't normally have the time to read between the lines. But reporters do. It's their job.  So what excuse does Wolf Blitzer or George Stephanopoulos have? After all, we expect bias from Fox News. But because of that, we expect the other news outlets to not be taken in by Fox News so easily. As soon as the criticism came from that outlet, everyone's B.S. detector should have been set off.

Romney might have been responsible for saving Joe's wife, as Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, pointed out. All Joe Soptic would have had to do would be to move to Massachusetts, and he would have been covered. Conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter threw an absolute conniption-fit over this gaff -- one which told the simple truth for a change. Of course what really helped the Obama campaign was not Saul's gaff, but the tremendous boost in exposure it received when every conservative talking head went ballistic over it, thus putting it on a huge, flashing billboard for all to see! Don't you love how Limbaugh and Coulter's incompetence shines so brightly when they try to highlight other people's incompetence?

Meanwhile, you go, Joe! It's a shame you had to be the only one who told the truth at a time when everyone else in the media got it wrong.



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