Romney’s quotation is out of context!

FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2012

And Blake is out of his head: At its upper end, our political press corps is simply astounding.

If you’ve ever doubted that fact, just examine this new blog post by the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.

Blake is a rising member of the insider press corps. The logic he displays in his post is that of an 8-year-old child. (Originally, we set the age at 9. But then, we decided to drop it.)

Blake discusses the Romney ad which shows Obama saying this: “Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan. And it worked.” In Romney’s ad, viewers get the impression that Obama meant that his plan has worked in the past few years, during the time when he was president.

But uh-oh! Reviewing Obama’s fuller statement, Blake agrees: It’s “pretty clear” that this isn’t what Obama actually meant. Obama meant that we tried the Clinton tax rates on high earners in the 1990s and things went well back then.

(For the record, it’s abundantly clear that that is what Obama meant. The Clinton tax rates haven’t been in effect in recent years. For that reason, Obama couldn’t have meant that the Clinton tax rates have worked in recent years.)

Blake says it’s pretty clear that this is what Obama meant. But good God! He then says this:
BLAKE (7/26/12): If you’re a Democrat, Romney’s ad will look wildly out of context and irresponsible.

But if you’re a Republican, you can make a credible case that the ad is completely justified.

It goes like this: Obama was contrasting two different tax policies—one being the Republican policy, and the other being the Democrats’ policy. Obama was talking about how the Democrats’ policy is better. But Democrats have been in the White House for four years now, and things are still bad. So obviously Democrats’ policies—on taxes or otherwise—aren’t that great.
Can Republicans “make a credible case that the ad is completely justified?” Yes, they can, Blake says. After all, Obama has been in the White House for (almost) four years, and things are still bad. So his policies can’t be that great!

This is when you start to wonder if Blake is eight years old.

How could that Republican case be “completely justified,” given the fact that Blake agrees that isn’t what Obama said or meant? Your guess is as good as ours! In all honesty, Blake’s presentation doesn’t make any sense.

This leaves you with two basic choices:

Aaron Blake can’t reason at all. Or Blake is simply play-acting, pretending to be fair and balanced.

For what it’s worth, we wouldn’t rule the first option out. Incredibly enough, this is where Blake goes next:
BLAKE (continuing directly): If you’re predisposed against Romney, that sort of justification will seem ludicrous and make your skin crawl. But it paints just enough of a gray area over the whole matter to justify the attack.

Romney may be attacked in the days ahead for running an out-of-context campaign, and some objective reporters might even say it has gone too far.

But the fact is that these two comments further clarify a picture (or caricature, depending on where you stand) of Obama that’s already out there. And plenty of—nay, almost all—people who don’t dissect this stuff as much as we do are going to take the pulled quotes at face value.

Is it warm and fuzzy? No. Does it work? Yes. And that’s why they do it.
Why does Blake say that Republicans “can make a credible case that the ad is completely justified?” Because an argument Blake agrees is wrong “paints just enough of a gray area over the whole matter to justify the attack.” Because it “clarifies a caricature.” Because “people who don’t dissect this stuff as much as we do are going to take the pulled quotes at face value!”

Does Aaron Blake know what it means to say a claim is "completely justified?" There's little sign that he does. By the end of his post, he seems to say that a claim is completely justified “if it works”—that is, if people believe it.

No, that doesn’t make normal sense. But this is America’s mainstream press corps, right at the top of the pack.

Nine-year-olds reason more clearly than that. Do you think Blake is sincere?

Does Aaron Blake speak English: Blake's headline clarifies his confusion:
Context be damned: Obama’s ‘It worked’ quote should work for Republicans
We agree—the ad may work. Voters may believe its message. But how does that mean that its claim is "completely justified?"

Aaron Blake doesn't seem to speak English. This is the shape of your "press corps."


  1. Whether Obama meant Clinton's tax policy or his own stimulus, a case could be made that "it worked". The stimulus did work. Just ask Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman. We need another one. Obama has had an obstructionist Congress for most of his tenure so the fact that things are still bad ( after 3.5 years) can not be place at his feet. Blake neither reasons or writes well.

  2. The Anonymous IdiotJuly 27, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    There you go again, Bob, insisting that "our side" has to fight by the Marquis d'Queensbury rules, while...


    Oh that's not what the post says? At all?

    Yeah, I guess I do look pretty stupid now. And always.

    The Anonymous Idiot

  3. Well, no, Idiot, what Bob is really saying is:

    I found yet ANOTHER blog post that PROVES the sky is falling! More sweet hay for my cattle!

    1. Always. I always look so stupid.

      But hay, am I predictably stupid?

      OK, yes, I am.

  4. You might think that, given the continuing dismal economy, the greatest communicator ever would steer clear of appearing to brag about how well his policies have worked. And is raising rates on those earning more than $250,000 the only idea he has for the next four years, or does it only seem that way?

    1. You might be more comfortable sticking with the radio

  5. You know, everybody that "I shocked, shocked" bit, but nobody actually DOES
    Claude Rains are really gives the guy enough credit.

    Anyway, I'm shocked a minor pundit would not follow his own points through to
    a logical conclusion that might piss someone off.

    1. "I'm shocked a minor pundit would not..."

      See, he's a "minor" pundit -- Which is just your way of saying "leave poor Chris Hayes alone, you mean old Bob Somerby!"

      Here's a rag. Go clean yourself up, Greg.

    2. Look, If Chris Hayes is some sort of a household word, you have a very unusual household. But nobody has really heard of the guy, at least not yet. And I do point out that he's not following though on his premise, so how do I view him as "poor Chris Hayes?"
      I just find this is not uncommon at all.

    3. And this isn't about Hayes anyway. Maybe YOU ARE the one who's drunk.

    4. It's not uncommon and therefore it shouldn't be criticised, in your snarky "shocked" formulation.

      You're useless.

  6. are should be or. Sorry, I'm drunk.

  7. Using Blake's "logic" we can say that all of Michael Ramirez's cartoons are justified and true.
    Ramirez also did his version of "We tried our plan, and it worked".

  8. Although I agree that Obama was referring to the Clinton Administration, his vague wording allowed misinterpretation. A more precise sstatement would be, "During the Clinton Administration taxes were high, and the economy did very well."

    This more clear wording makes it clear that Mr. Obama cherry-picked his data. After all, during the Carter Administration, taxes were high and the economy did badly. During the GW Bush and Kennedy Administrations, the economy improved after taxes were cut. Also, I believe examples from other countries would show that high tax rates are generally worse for the economy than low tax rates.

  9. So will the Democrats immediately record a new commercial showing how the Romney commercial is a flat-out lie, and in the process reinforce the fact that taxation under Democratic President Clinton worked great for everyone, and terribly for the country under Bush?

    No, they'll focus on their attack ads that talk right past this and leave the Romney message in place. Democrats don't have a clue how to use all the Republicans' money against them.

  10. It will be credible to a credulous, misinformed, ignorant and uninterested public. Because pundits like Blake rarely bother to explain why and how the quotes are out of context.

  11. Don't you just want to shake an 'adult' like Blake until his head might rattle for writing rubbish like that. Come on, it'd have to sound like a couple of B.B.'s up inside a ping-pong ball somehow ! So no doubt he'll be appearing on 'Meet The Press' any Sunday now. He'd be about on par for 'soul' on there.