Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend of the World - Promises, Promises

1. The whole Ryan-GM plan thing is starting to bother me. Paul Ryan said about Obama at the RNC
"When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory. A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That's what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day."
Now the thing is that none of that is a lie. Every single statement is true. Some of the fact-checkers have labelled it some level of misleading or incomplete, and I agree with Matthew Dowd who was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign who said that Ryan "was trying to convey that Barack Obama was responsible for the closing of the GM plant, and that isn't true."  Mostly I do so because without the implication, this part of the speech is meaningless. Obama's statements are completely unrelated to what happened at the plant (because the government didn't support them), so why mention them together, other than then to create an unflattering implication?

But still, the facts are correct.

But that isn't what bothers me. It's these two things:

One is that some Ryan supporters are overplaying their hand. George Will, in the same conversation with Dowd, insisted that the plant did close under Obama because the last jobs didn't leave until April. Now, one could reasonably argue that the plant closed in December when the closure was announced and most jobs went away; or that it closed in April when it actually shut down. But what one can't argue is that Ryan was accurately talking about the April date. Obama's speech was in February 2008. Ryan said the plant "didn't last another year." So either he was talking about the December date or he was wrong/lying about how long it took to close.

The other thing that bothers me, is that when Ryan finds himself in a situation where he can take the high ground and say that he wasn't lying - that his statements were mischaracterized, he instead acts as though he regrets having missed an opportunity to lie. So then he starts lying. He says "What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises." Sigh.... Here's what Obama said:
And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. 
What Obama never says is the word "promise". [He does say it 8 times in the speech, but he's talking about "America's promise" or promises by others]. This is a classic, if-then statement. The "if" was never done, so we can't complain about the "then" not happening. Obama is stating a belief - that's not the same as a promise. Not at all. [And since when has Paul Ryan been pro-big government bailouts and interventions in the market? Isn't he for letting businesses stand or fall on their own?]

So while Ryan didn't technically lie at the RNC, he has pretty much every time he's talked about it since (and he did so before as well).

2. While Romney seems to be behind Obama right now, Obama supporters have reason to be concerned.

Until now, Obama has been spending more money, but that will change. Romney has more money on hand, will likely raise more money between now and the election and he's now free to start spending it.

Romney will likely gain from the debates. Studies show that it makes the challenger look more presidential. And he's not a bad debater, so he's unlikely to pull a Rick Perry.

It's hard to imagine the economy getting much better, but it's easy to imagine it getting much worse. A collapse in Europe or China, or concerns about the fiscal cliff or something unforeseen could all cause a sudden negative change in the economy. Romney would likely gain from that.

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