2012: The Year of Just Making Stuff Up in Campaign Ads

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 29 2012 9:32 AM

2012: The Year of Just Making Stuff Up in Campaign Ads

This is the campaign where everybody pretends to misunderstand everybody else. There's a caveat: To plead ignorance effectively, the fact you're pretending to get wrong must be pre-memed. Mitt Romney gets called out when an ad quotes Obama quoting John McCain, and there's a dogpile on the Romney campaign.

Romney's new web ad is on more solid ground, because it uses a line that's been taffy-pulled for four months.

Screen shot 2012-03-29 at 9.18.08 AM

Alas, that's not quite what Obama said. The context (which was even lost at the time) was Kroft congratulating Obama on what he'd done so far.

KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.
KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?

After some windbaggery, Obama said this:

The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do. And we're gonna keep on at it.

Obama was talking specifically about "the first two years" of his first term. Quick rundown: Stimulus, Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, DADT repeal, New START. I'd argue that Obama sells George W. Bush short here, because he passed his three legislative priorities before 9/11 and the subsequent, initially successful response. Presidents shouldn't ever talk about themselves like this. But he wasn't calling himself, overall, one of the four best presidents.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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