Contextual Contortion

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Context matters in communications. Obviously, quoting someone out of context, or only partially in context, changes the meaning and distorts the original meaning.

As self evident as this assertion seems, Willard Mitt Romney apparently sees nothing wrong with contextual contortion.

This week, Romney ran an ad showing President Obama saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Bam, clean blow, right?

The problem is, the President actually said, “Senator McCain’s campaign said, and I quote, ‘if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’”

When pressed about the obvious flimflammery of the Romney editing, a Romney spokesperson refused to recant or apologize. Amazingly, Romney’s guy responded, ““He (President Obama) did say the words. That’s his voice.”

“That’s his voice.” Good grief, I hope the Romniac took a shower after that interview. This is the state of political communications in America today. Pathetic.

I hope my conservative friends can concede that Governor Romney went way over the line with his shameless broadcast butchery. After all, if that approach is good for the goose, it could also be good for the gander, as this satire from the liberal group ThinkProress shows:

Hey, he did say the words. That’s his voice.

– Loveland

11 thoughts on “Contextual Contortion

  1. Erik says:

    What’s great is that Obama and liberals have had the self-discipline over the years to not take conservatives out of context. Otherwise, I’m not sure they’d have any credibility when leveling charges of distortion or manipulation.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Ah yes, the “everyone does it” conversation stopper.

    Look my friend, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama or some liberal has used an equally bad video vivisection. But I can’t come up with one. Can you? It seems more constructive to deal with specific cases than generalities, so help me out.

    Off the top of my puny head, the only other TV ad editing bomb that I can remember is the Norm Coleman ad where Coleman showed Al Franken ranting. Coleman’s ad was making the visual point that Franken was a rageful, deranged pol unfit for the U.S. Senate, obviously a very serious and personal charge. It turned out that the full context of the video clip was that Franken was telling a funny and touching story about his dead friend Paul Wellstone encouraging his son, in a ranting way, in a cross country race. Pretty rotten stuff.

    I don’t doubt that there are examples from liberals that are as bad as these two, but I’m not coming up with any. Can you help me? Liberal example? Obama example?

  3. Newt says:

    Published: Friday, 25 Nov 2011 | 1:10 PM ET
    By: JeeYeon Park Writer

    Stocks closed in negative territory in thin, shortened trading Friday as investors were reluctant to go long ahead of the weekend and amid ongoing worries over the euro zone.

    The Dow and S&P posted their worst Thanksgiving week since the Great Depression on a percentage basis.

  4. Erik says:

    Well look, I feel appropriately chastised, and I’m sure you all are correct. Democrats never do this. And when they do, they are excused. There’s not an equivalence.

    The danger is real. Independents – and I mean all of them – will vote and elect Romney based on this ad rather than the the incumbent’s struggles.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I’m sorry you feel chastised. I didn’t intend to make you feel that way. I was just trying to come up with like examples from Obama, and couldn’t come up with any, so was looking for help. Not a big deal.

      I agree with you that the danger of Obama losing Independents because of the sluggish economy is very real. No doubt about that.

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    Ariana Huffington had a nice critique of the news media’s coverage of this issue. Except:

    Along with being deceitful, the ad is also a challenge to the media. It’s like when a toddler looks right at you and slowly and deliberately spills a glass of milk. The child wants to see the reaction. It’s a test of boundaries. If there’s no reaction, then the message is that it’s OK.

    So what message did the media send with its reaction? This is how the New York Times’ Michael Shear covered the ad:

    “Democrats reacted ferociously on Tuesday to Mitt Romney’s first campaign commercial, which they said distorted comments by Barack Obama to make it look as if he was running away from his record on the economy.”

    “They said”? The ad did distort President Obama’s comments. It was not a matter of what Democrats said versus what Republicans said — there is an objective reality, and it is the media’s job to present it unequivocally.

    According to Shear, the ad “let Republican voters know that Mr. Romney would take a combative posture toward Mr. Obama.” Actually, it let voters know that Mr. Romney would take a lying posture toward Mr. Obama.

    The article then quickly pivots to yet another discussion of campaign tactics: “The result of the back and forth was to highlight an ad that Mr. Romney’s campaign spent relatively little to broadcast — just $134,000 on one New Hampshire television station.” Just another “back and forth,” people — nothing to see here.”

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