Houston, we have a campaign theme
August 3, 2012 1 Comment
So, yesterday, regarding the new analysis of Romney’s tax plan I wrote this:
The huge value of what the Tax Policy Center has done is that when all the fact check guys decide to go after Obama they’ll have to accept that this is actually the most benevolent possible interpretation of what Romney is proposing if you add any of the necessary flesh to his bare bones proposals. That should allow the attacks to stick much more so than if journalists just accept Romney pushback with a he said, she said.
And today, it begins, with the Post’s Glenn Kessler giving the coveted Gepetto Checkmark to Obama’s ad based on this info:
This ad is tough, but we cannot fault the accuracy of its key points. To some extent, the Romney campaign has been hoist with its own petard by refusing to provide sufficient detail that shows how the numbers add up in Romney’s tax and budget plans. So we are left with the judgment of a respected and independent third party.
We hold campaign ads to a high standard, particularly attack ads. If Romney releases the missing details, and a new analysis finds that Romney can meet the stated goals of his tax plan, then we can certainly revisit this analysis. But, until then, for the first time in this frequently nasty campaign, we award a rare Geppetto Checkmark for a campaign ad.
As for the “if” Romney can release details that make his numbers work, I’m expecting that right after Mitt brings us cold fusion. If you haven’t seen that ad, watch it. It’s devastating.
I recall some really interesting political science (that I would’ve looked up if I weren’t on vacation) that if there’s one thing voters really hate, it’s the idea of politicians personally benefiting from their office. Now, like most Republicans Romney is surely ideologically committed to the idea of less taxes for rich people, but in the context of an ad like this, I don’t think that matters. These attacks hurt Romney on many levels. All the more so because they are actually true.
To have an ad like this be declared factually accurate is a big deal. Imagine the subject of taxes during the debate and when Romney complains of Obama’s criticism, Obama gets to come back with: this was approved by the Post factcheck and supported by WSJ analysis. And, as I mentioned yesterday, this Good Housekeeping seal of approval for this message means that when the Obama campaign pushes this theme journalists can just go with it instead of giving us, “but the Romney campaign counters…” every time. Again, we’ll have to see how this plays out, but I really think this will give Obama a distinct tactical advantage in a campaign where he needs every advantage he can get. This really could be a big deal.