Our journalists love their favorite tales!

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012

Like Pepperidge Farm, Harwood remembers: We don’t expect to post tomorrow.

While we’re away, why not treat yourself to a review of John Harwood’s favorite stories?

In last Friday’s New York Times, Harwood connected Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47 percent to Candidate Blunders of the past. This allowed the scribe to recall his favorite candidate stories.

Harwood lists his top ten candidate blunders, dating to the 1968 campaign. A few quick reactions:

Instant editing: We were struck by the way Harwood shortens some of the allegedly horrible candidate statements. In the case of Candidate Gore, Harwood shortens a 16-word statement down to just eight, instantly dumping some of the context. He does something similar with Candidate Kerry, whose laughable statement made perfect sense and involved no “flip-flop” at all.

Mondale never dies: As we’ve mentioned in the past, Candidate Mondale’s statement about taxes always makes these lists. In this way, journalists mock a candidate for making a straightforward, perfectly accurate statement about a major policy area. (For the record, President Reagan did go on to raise taxes, just as Mondale predicted. After that, so did Presidents Bush and Clinton.)

Dukakis never dies too: Needless to say, Candidate Dukakis makes the list, not because of what he said, but because he said it as part of an “emotionless response.” Translation: Dukakis was supposed to punch Bernie Shaw right in the nose for asking the most tasteless and inappropriate question in the history of presidential debates. When Dukakis didn’t punch Shaw in the nose, the mainstream press corps swung into action. They repeat the tale to this very day. It's one of their all-time favorites.

Two major omissions: Harwood includes a minor, pointless remark by President Bush in 1992. He omits one of the most significant statements in the history of modern presidential campaigning: “Read my lips. No new taxes!” In 1988, this highly disingenuous statement won the election for Candidate Bush. Four years later, it may have cost him re-election. Also omitted: Candidate Muskie’s alleged weeping in 1972, an astonishing incident in which the upper-end press corps seems to have invented a whole set of facts.

Journalists love these silly tales. They never stop repeating these tales, no matter how much they have to doctor, omit or spin in the process of the retelling.

However much you think it matters, Candidate Romney’s videotaped statement actually did involve major misstatements. Most of Harwood’s favorite candidate blunders are examples of something else.

8 comments:

  1. Romney was right that that around half of us don't pay federal income tax. And, he was right that a roughly similar fraction don't contribute to the wealth of the nation. He was wrong in equating these two groups.

    Bob rightly criticizes Harwood for shortening some of the allegedly horrible candidate statements and thus changing the context. He might have noted that Romney's 47% comment was shortened by the people who released that tape -- people who are his political opponents. AFAIK the missing portion of the tape is unavailable.

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    1. And, he was right that a roughly similar fraction don't contribute to the wealth of the nation. He was wrong in equating these two groups.

      What an absurd statement. Where do you get the idea that 50% of the American people don't contribute to the wealth of the nation?

      AFAIK the missing portion of the tape is unavailable.

      No, the entire tape is available to watch online:

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/watch-full-secret-video-private-romney-fundraiser

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    2. Mother Jones has admitted that the "entire" tape is actually missing "one to two minutes." Romney’s 47% answer was cut off before completed, and is not picked up on the Part 2 audio video. See http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/09/19/Mother-Jones-Admits-Romney-Tape-Missing-One-or-Two-Minutes

      Who doesn't contribute to the wealth of the nation? Start with me and other retirees. Then add in all those on disability. There are about 60 million people on Social Security, almost all of whom are not working. There are millions more retired government workers who are on a pension plan other than Social Security. Add in another 12 million unemployed plus more millions who have dropped out of the job market and so are not counted as unemployed. Then, there are about 15 million people on welfare.

      These don't add qutie up to the number of employed Americans, which is 139 million. So, hardlinr, you are correct that I exaggerated somewhat in asserting that around half of Americans don't contribute to the wealth of the nation. A lot of people don't contribute, but the number is less than half.

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    3. This is like the right-wing excuse I heard after the Rodney King beating. We didn't see the whole thing and all the events leading up to it. We only saw a small portion that the guy chose to tape, with several cops surrounding a helpless guy on the ground and pounding him with clubs for several mintues.

      Sorry, Dave. But if you are relying on "breitbart.com" to set the record straight, you are truly grasping at straws.

      They again, they know all about doctoring and editing tapes.

      As for retirees not contributing to the wealth today? Really? Where would we be without the physical and educational infrastructures they and previous generations built with both their tax dollars and their hands?

      We always stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

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    4. DiC:

      I did not know that 1-2 minutes of the recording were missing. Not sure how much it matters. Despite claims on Breitbart.com to the contrary, I have had electronic records malfunction on me.

      Senior citizens, retirees and welfare recipients DO make contributions to our nation's wealth. They spend money, which drives economic activity. Most welfare recipients are required to have a job (or be in job training or education) to receive benefits. Unemployed people also spend money, which also drives economic activity. It is in no way fair to say that half of America don't contribute to economic activity in America.

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  2. David_in_Cal:

    Oh -- so you mean "at any given time."

    Most of your 50%, you'd then readily admit, "contribute to the wealth of the nation" for most of their adult lives and to the extent that they are able.

    But when you qualify it that way, (as you must, if you're going to be honest, David), it doesn't sound quite so polemic, so partisan.

    But given the qualifications you've now outlined, separate from your first statement, you'd have to agree with a statement like this:

    "The vast majority of Americans contribute to the wealth of the nation as much as they are able."

    But, no that's not your first instinct.

    Because you are a dishonest little pr!ck, your first instinct is to make a statement that while technically defensible, misleads as much as possible toward a "conservative" or "libertarian" interpretation of the state of the world.

    Even though that interpretation, you admit when pressed, is complete bullsh!t.

    This is the reason you are widely and correctly regarded as such a troll.

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    1. He went Galt when he retired.

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