Civility watch: The Romney-killed-my-wife edition
“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” — President Barack Obama
Do you think anyone at the pro-Barack Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action paused and thought about discourse before releasing an ad that personally blames presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney for the death of a steel worker’s wife?
“Understands” takes aim at Bain Capital’s closure of an unproductive, union-heavy GST Steel plant in Kansas City, which, if we follow the logic of Obama’s economic theories, should, like Amtrak, stay in business no matter how much money it loses.
Joe Soptic, a worker that was laid off and lost his health benefits, explains that his wife later was found to have stage-four cancer and “there was nothing they could do.”
(UPDATE: GSI went under in 2001, two years after Romney made decisions at Bain. Soptic’s wife died in 2006.)
As tragic as this story is, it has little to do with Bain. By 1999 GSI had $53 million in net losses. How long does Mitt Romney owe Joe Soptic health care? And why is Soptic blaming Romney alone? Surely he could also blame unions for injecting tremendous costs into doing business, or blame the international marketplace for existing, or blame innovation in his own industry for making many jobs superfluous. And guess what? When investors reallocated money from a failing project to a productive one (as they occasionally do) a whole bunch of other people — sometimes more people — benefit from health care insurance. Not exactly the stuff of political ad copy.
Now, if you believe that private equity is killing people, you’re probably not voting GOP anyway. And if killing jobs were just like killing people, Obama would be in front of The Hague. But for Democrats, all this nastiness is effective in turning the conversation away from Obama’s historically unmatched failure on the economy. That’s what really matters.
But, it is worth pointing out that a few years back calls for “civility” — which can be loosely translated to mean “shut up, tea party” — was all the rage in Washington. These days, though, the Senate majority leader breezily accuses a presidential candidate of a felony (he’s delighted at the outcome) and the House’s minority leader claims matter-of-factly that Republicans are in the E. coli club. Now, Mitt Romney is not only a liar and a thief, but maybe even guilty of negligent homicide?