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    « Are Corporations People or Not? Liberals Need to Make up Their Minds.... | Main | We, the Sheeple.... »

    Obama's Cancer Ad: Is it Over the Line?


    Okay. I get it. Politics is a dirty business.  If you want to play, you best have a thick skin and a knack for finding the jugular.  But there’s dirty and then there’s dirty, and the recent ad from the Obama SuperPAC, Priorities for USA Action, has dropped to new depths, moving—dare I say it—into Glenn Beck territory.

    You know the motif: use a mental chalkboard and draw a dotted line from point A to point Z, taking numerous detours along the way, all in the hopes of creating a mental connection in the minds of your listeners while still managing to retain an “I never said that,” plausible deniability.  The result? A classic case of a factual ad that lacks any notion of truth.

    The culprit in this case is the now infamous “Cancer” ad, the one that draws that dotted line across several years and loosely implies a connection between Mitt Romney and the death of a woman whose husband, Joe Soptic, worked in a Kansas City, MO plant shut down by Bain Capital. The tone of that ad is deliberate and obvious, suggesting that Romney’s actions killed someone.

    Here’s the ad, for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure:

    This is just the latest salvo in 21st-century election-cycle cruelty.  In 2000 we had George W. Bush suggesting that his primary opponent, John McCain, had an African-American child out of wedlock. In fact, the child was an adopted Bangladeshi, a fact known by all but just enough ignorant South Carolinians who, it turned out, flipped the primary election Bush’s way. (And the rest, as they say, is history….) In 2004 we had the famous Swift Boat Veterans attack against John Kerry, a broadside so bizarre that the candidate was too flabbergasted to respond—and yet it clearly had an impact.  And who can forget the birther controversy during the 2008 primary campaign, ostensibly started by the Clinton camp?

    But saying a candidate caused a woman’s death? That’s so over the line I can’t even see the damned line from here.

    More deplorable, perhaps, is the fact that Obama won’t denounce the ad. Lanny Davis, an advisor and special counsel to Bill Clinton, did, but anyone living at 1600 Penn?  Nah…

    Quick head’s up to President Obama: If you’re trying to make this campaign about character—and it seems that, at least in part, you are—then you just took a few giant steps backwards on that particular quality.


    Do you think the “Cancer” ad is the worst of the campaign?  We’re asking for your vote on the CoffeePartyUSA Facebook page, where we’ve posted a poll with four ads for you to choose from.  The other three are below, so you can refresh your memories if you need to.  We’ll announce the results—and discuss the topic in detail—this Tuesday night (Aug 14) at 8 PM EST on The Middle Ground.

    “Right Choice” – Attack on Obama (Welfare)

    “Heads or Tails” – Attack on Romney (Bain Capital)

    “Operation Hot Mike” – Attack on Obama (Foreign Policy)

    The poll opens at Sunday 10:30 AM EST and will run until Tuesday at 4:00 PM EST.  Let us know what you think, then call in to the show to talk about it.




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    Reader Comments (21)

    That ad seems more than fair to me. Romney has spent a lot of time and money talking about his common sense business experience. This is what he means.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllan Kleckner

    Yeah, I'm trying to remain fair and open-minded here, but the ad just doesn't seem that bad to me. The ad is highlighting a guy whose life was changed, not for the better, by the business practices of Bain Capital. Romney has made his business experience central to the campaign. Taking that experience and showing the negative side of it is absolutely fair game.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLtPowers

    I wasn't outraged..It doesn't seem nearly as harsh as some of the lies Romney has told about Obama. It is an honest look at what happens to people when they loose their job, They never said Romney was to blame for the cancer...just that she might have been saved if she'd had insurance, and gone to the doctor earlier. And I agree that Romney doesn't seem to have ANY compassion for the lives he destroys.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterellen henry

    Agreed. Closing businesses with no safety net in place for the fallout of such actions is inhumane and socially irresponsible, even if it makes a profit or is the economically smart thing to do. This ad points out exactly how running a country is NOT like running a business because the social implications as well as the economic factors must be considered. The well-being of all citizens, and not profiteering, must be the focus of government.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMel S

    The author is guilty of what he's complaining about. Point A, in this case is Obama, point B is the ad. It wasn't Obama's campaign that put out the ad. Not denying the add doesn't make Obama responsible for it. Yet that's what the author is claiming.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimeWeaver

    I don't think the ad is all that bad. AS Mel S. said Romney is or was running his campaign on his business expertise. The Government is not a business -- there are no profit margins or stockholders to pay off.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen Condon

    How about the "You didn't build that" ad that edited out Obama's words to make it sound like he was against small business? He didn't say those words in that way, but the Romney ad and FOX Op-Ed ran with it anyway. Propaganda. Spin. Again.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

    The author clearly does not understand that having health insurance can easily be the difference between life and death. As a nurse for over 12 years dealing with chronic disease and community need, this fact is loud and clear. This ad is a subjective cause and effect example of how important health insurance is. This story is not an extreme example but a common occurrence. Do your homework the CDC just issued findings that chronic disease has risen 20% in some ethnicities in persons less than 55 yrs of age. This means our middle age population is getting sicker and needs health insurance now more than ever.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

    I absolutely agree on the "you didn't build that ad." That certainly makes my short (but apparently getting longer) list. It was the king of this year's "taken out of context" ad moments.

    August 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterMichael Charney

    Heather: I really do understand that having health insurance can be the difference between life and death, and an ad attacking Romney's stance on Obamacare is a totally legitimate subject. This ad, though, strikes me as very sinister; it reminds me, at times, of the Willie Horton ads run against Dukakis.... meant to create a subtle emotional thread of belief, a subtext meant to make us think that Romney doesn't care at all if people live or die.... Now people may already believe that's true... (I don't, for the record), but to try to convince people that it's true is just plain nasty in my mind...

    August 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterMichael Charney

    Sorry I can't get excited about this add, it just points out what happens to average people when big business plays chess with their livelyhood. Far as I'm concerned it touches on the key issues, jobs and healthcare.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterveteran68

    I agree that there is not a "bright line" connecting the woman's cancer to her husband's job loss. I would love to know if Bain did anything to help these workers find work, keep insurance, etc. That might have been a better focus. That said, however, Rove, etc. are running misleading ads all over the place. If you ever look at, you've probably seen an ad sponsored by power4patriots. It is a blatantly political ad rather than the energy-saving ad it claims to be. It also was created by selective editing of the President's speeches, etc. So, no, I cannot say this is the worst of the crop.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Strickland

    The ad perfectly describes Mitt's buissiness model and the effects it has on people. He is responsible for the loss of their health care. If he gets to apply those principles to the country as a whole we're fucked!

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

    "Attack ads are the crack cocaine of politics." .....Tom Dashel

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterS. B. Ryan

    Mr. Charney, yet another example of the false equivalency so common with inside-the-Beltway media. Romney's outright lies, approved by the candidate, versus ads whose implications you find disturbing, issued by the President's super-PAC and not by his campaign. Not equivalent, not by a long shot. Previous commenters seem to agree with me.

    You seem to think Romney is a "nicer" person than his record shows him to be. A man who has made billions by stripping companies of their assets and employees of their livelihoods and pensions can't be anything BUT uncaring. If he really cared about those people he would have gone into another line of work.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

    NO ONE is blaming Romney for cancer. The man lost his healthcare, then his wife got ill. Getting cancer without healthcare is a death sentence in this country.

    August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren G

    First, let me avidly state that I support neither of the Big Two parties. I find them both corrupt beyond saving. You can verify this by visiting my website at

    That being said, we The People need to be better than this. These ads are specifically created to tug on your heartstrings. The appeal is to emotion -- not reason. As such, we need to remember the lesson learned by the computer in the movie War Games; “The only winning move is NOT to play”.

    People fall into tough luck every day, and as a human being I feel for every one of them – especially those who did not have any control over their circumstances. But when you do have a chance to better your situation and you don’t even try, I have a problem with that. And my anger doubles when, after the fact, you try and blame it on someone else. As cruel as it might sound for me to say, the only relevant fact portrayed in this ad concerning the wife’s death is that she chose not speak out. She kept her sickness to herself (and even that was alleged, no direct proof was offered), and that was what killed her; not Bain Capital and certainly not Mitt Romney. If they had simply said that Bain closed the plant, he was out of work for a long time, and then had to take a custodial position at less pay, that would have been OK. That’s called underemployed; and if you add those figures to the unemployment rate, well, the answer will probably make you ill. However, the mere mention of the wife’s passing was beyond despicable.

    Furthermore, please consider the following facts: Yes, Bain Capital put people out of work. However, there are currently 12.8 million people unemployed (BLS Report, August 3rd). So even if Bain put 5,000 people out of work across all of their business units (and that is strictly a hypothetical number), that would constitute four ten-thousandths (.0004) of all people out of work. In the grand scheme of things this hardly constitutes a War Crime. Furthermore, while Bain was busy laying off workers, they were also founding companies, creating net-new jobs. Funny how that was conveniently “left out”.

    So yes, I get it. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat working for the President’s reelection, you probably give this ad a pass, even though you shouldn’t. If you are dyed-in-the-wool Republican, looking to take back the White House at all costs, then the ad probably has you seeing red, as it should; but Romney’s attack ads on President Obama are no better. If like me, you are sick and tired of politics as usual then it’s time to find a better option because neither the Democrats nor Republicans have any intention of stopping the placement of these sleazy ads. Why? Because they are fighting over the spoils that Washington offers, and they don’t give a hoot (yes, I wanted to use a stronger word) about the rest of us. We are simply cannon fodder in their eyes; pawns to be used, sacrificed, and discarded. Don’t we deserve better?

    August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Aronson

    "Obama's Cancer Ad: Is it Over the Line?" The title of this is misleading in a manner worthy of the finest propagandists. It is NOT an Obama ad, it is a Super Pac ad. If you don't like it, too bad. Thanks to Citizen's United we are going to see a lot more that are a lot worse. THEN compare it to the outright lies and distortions that the Romney Campaign has polluted the airwaves with. Since this blogger is not taking them on, any illusion to non-partisanship is just that - an illusion.

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren G

    Karen, why all the vitriol? Why the name calling? "Worthy of the finest propagandists?" I respectfully suggest you read Mein Kampf and see if you still think so. (No offense Michael)

    Meanwhile, I am actively taking both parties on, working to erase the Citizens United decision, and am calling for civil discourse in politics (ads=discourse). Do I then qualify to say that this ad is despicable? Can we also agree that both parties are guilty of such transgressions? And finally, can we all agree that if a candidate does not denounce an ad placed by a supporting Super PAC, that their silence is equivalent to approval?

    Folks, these ads exist to get us fighting amongst ourselves -- and look, it's working. Their end game is "divide and conquer". Neither side is even talking compromise. This election has degraded into an MMA fight; and they've got most of us packed around the cage, screaming for blood. Can't you see that we are doomed to more of the same as long as we play their game?

    August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Aronson

    Perhaps it's because I've worked in marketing and advertising which means I know how to write concisely. I hold others, who wish to publish, to a higher standard. "
    Obama's Cancer Ad: Is it Over the Line?"
    This should read "Pro-Obama Ad" etc. This way you are being telling the truth. The Obama campaign had nothing to do with it.
    I've perused your blog and find not a word about Romney Campaign falsely accusing Obama of gutting welfare. That IS a Romney Campaign ad and it is a LIE. Where were you?
    Or the nonsense about "You didn't build that" taken out of context in a Romney Campaign ad. Where were you?
    You call Romney a good leader. I see, and I think you might too, a candidate that has flip-flopped on nearly every damn position he has ever held. That's not leadership.
    And I also notice you have not responded to any of my points which, I feel, were quite reasonable.
    Finally, vitriol? For a man who spends a great deal of time commenting about politics you better develop a thicker skin.

    August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren G

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