So what’s a Republican presidential candidate to do when he’s asked too many questions for which he has no answers (or for which the answers are too damaging)? Run to Fox News, of course.
Mitt Romney has absolutely no coherent response to the criticisms he is fielding on his tenure at Bain Capital. Nor can he answer credibly why he won’t release his tax returns. So he is relying on Fox News to fill the void by diverting attention to anything else in the hopes of changing the subject.
The diversion that Fox appears to have selected on is a snippet of a speech wherein President Obama addressed the collective value of a nation united to advance prosperity for all. The soundbite was edited to include only a small and misleading segment of the speech so as to make Obama look as if he were dismissive of the hard work done by entrepreneurs. The part that Fox has been running in an endless loop says:
“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
What the President actually said in the full context was:
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. 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.
“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
“So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
That was a pretty explicit endorsement of both personal initiative and community strength. But the memo obviously went out at Fox headquarters advising everyone to get on board this story and distort it beyond all recognition. The theme that was regurgitated throughout the Fox universe was that the President had insulted small business owners. It was broadcast by Fox & Friends, Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto, and The Five. It was published on Fox Nation and Fox News online. It was also picked up by Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Right-Wing Noise Machine. Shortly thereafter the Romney campaign itself picked up the baton and ran with it in an email statement:
“They are also insulting to the hardworking entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and job creators who are the backbone of our economy.”
The only way that anyone could arrive at that conclusion is if they were determined to be dishonest in their representation of the President’s remarks. So it isn’t surprising that Romney’s camp released this statement. They are notorious for their aversion to the truth.
In addition to the “insult” meme, Romney also launched a diversionary attack that accused Obama of funneling public money to his political allies and campaign contributors. Part of this attack was in the form of a web video that mocked Obama’s singing of “Let’s Stay Together.” However, that video has already been removed by YouTube due to copyright violations. This is what Romney told the kiddie crew at Fox & Friends:
“When billions upon billions are given by the Obama administration to the businesses of campaign contributors, that’s a real problem. […] If you’re a campaign contractor to Barack Obama, your business may stand to get billions or hundreds of million in cash from the government. I think it’s wrong – stinks to high heaven and I think the administration has to explain how it is they would consider giving money to campaign contributors’ businesses.”
There are two glaring problems with that critique. First, Romney provided no proof whatsoever – not even an example that had any evidence attached to it. It was a blunt force assault with nothing behind it of substance. And we can expect more of this garbage. Romney has been sending out surrogates like John Sununu to smear Obama for associations with Chicago corruption – also without proof. Secondly, For Romney to complain about Obama padding the pockets of his donors is an odd line of attack because at least Obama reveals who his donors are. Romney has steadfastly refused to identify the bundlers working for his campaign who are responsible for raising the bulk of his funds.
Furthermore, much of the Romney election effort is managed by outside Super PACS, who also withhold donor information. Mitt Romney is running perhaps the most secretive campaign in history. We don’t know who’s bankrolling it. We don’t know what is in his tax returns. We don’t know what role he played at Bain Capital. We don’t know how much cash he had stashed in off-shore bank accounts. Worst, of all, we don’t have any idea what his plans are for resolving the nation’s problems.
Romney operates his campaign like an organized crime syndicate, insisting that everything is above board, but never letting anyone close enough to see where the bodies are buried. Just today a news report revealed that one of Romney’s biggest contributors is under investigation for ties to Chinese mobsters. And Romney has the gall to challenge Obama’s donors?
Romney should immediately disclose who his donors are. Then we can have a discussion. But he is unlikely to do so because it would probably be more damaging to his candidacy than keeping them secret. He’s clearly got something he is intent on hiding. But he is fortunate that he has Fox News to run interference for him and create diversions when necessary.