Remember Joe Soptic? He was the hapless pawn featured in an advertising smear campaign cobbled together by a pro-Obama PAC during the run-up to 2012 presidential election. The spots were designed to paint Republican challenger Mitt Romney as a heartless money-grubber whose venture capitalist firm not only shut down the Kansas City steel mill where Soptic worked but terminated his insurance, thereby hastening his wife’s death from cancer. None of it was true: By the time Bain Capital acquired GST Steel in 1993, the company had already fallen on hard times. Despite copious cash infusions from Bain, GST continued to hemorrhage money and was ultimately liquidated in 2001. By that time, Romney had left Bain Capital in any case.
The linkage between the death of Soptic’s wife and the company’s closure was also grounded in lies. Ranae Soptic died suddenly in 2006 when doctors treating her for pneumonia discovered that she had stage-four cancer. She was admitted to a hospital where she died two weeks later. That was five years after GST had closed, and it turns out that Ranae Soptic had had her own work-related health insurance policy, which she had allowed to lapse.
It is almost a point of delicious irony to recall this deliberate and ugly fiction now that another election is looming — the 2014 midterms — and Barack Obama’s chickens are coming home to roost. The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza writes with trepidation about a new ad, this one launched by a conservative 501(c)(4) called Ending Spending. The 30-second spot, which addresses New Hampshire voters, also focuses on the state of health care in America and trade on lies. This time, however, the lies are those of the president.
The ad, which appears below, goes after vulnerable Democratic Senator and Obamacare suppporter Jeanne Shaheen, but Cilizza predicts — correctly I believe — that it “will be replicated endlessly by Republican candidates and groups in the 2014 midterm election.”
Cilizza notes that the campaign, “produced by GOP media consultant Larry McCarthy, hits all of the high notes.”
It uses footage of Shaheen using the ‘if you like your insurance you can keep it’ line while noting on screen that President Obama was given the ‘lie of the year’ by PolitiFact for saying the same thing. A narrator points out that 20,000 New Hampshire residents have had their insurance canceled and that the Affordable Care Act offers only a single provider on the state’s individual market. The ad ends with this dagger of a line: ‘Next November, if you like your Senator, you can keep her. If not, you know what to do.’ Oomph.
Although Cilizza doesn’t acknowledge it, the ad — unlike the Soptic campaign — tells the truth. Which makes it that much more powerful an instrument that be used to change the overall complexion of the Senate from a depressing blue to a warm red.
Cilizza is aware of the ad’s potency:
The potential ubiquity of the ad is matched by its potential power. Remember that more than six in ten registered voters in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll disapprove of President Obama’s handling of health care — including an eye-popping 50 percent who disapprove strongly. (Eighty-eight percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents disapprove of Obama handling of the health care law.) And, nearly half (47 percent) of voters said that Obamacare is making the health care system worse while just 19 percent said the ACA had made things better.
Add it all up and you have a very scary situation for Shaheen — and any other Democrat, which is almost all of them, on the record supporting the ACA. Get used to this ad. You are going to see it thousands of times — in various forms — before 2014 is over.
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