Romney’s Extraordinary Detachment from the Truth

willard romneyBill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, was on the money when he said Mitt Romney will “tell a bunch more whoppers about unions” (and President Obama).

Romney fibbed anew when he claimed Obama “denies an American company the right to build a factory in the American state of its choice.”

The claim is vintage Romney obfuscation, apparently based on the dispute — settled last year — between the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and Chicago-headquartered Boeing over the aircraft manufacturer’s new non-union plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state where most business owners and most politicians – even some Democrats – are less than union-friendly.

For years, Boeing was based in Seattle , where the company was founded in 1916. The union said — and the National Labor Relations Board agreed — that Boeing broke federal labor law by building the factory in South Carolina in retaliation against union members for exercising their federally-guaranteed right to strike.

The IAM asked the NLRB to file the case, then requested that the panel drop it after the union and Boeing agreed to a new contract in which the company pledged to expand aircraft production in the Seattle area. The South Carolina plant stayed open.

“This case was never about the union or the NLRB telling Boeing where it could put its plants,” Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times quoted Lafe Solomon, acting NLRB general council. “This was a question for us of retaliation, and that remains the law.”

Solomon, the union and Boeing are all glad the dispute was settled, Greenhouse wrote. Presumably, Obama is, too.

But you wouldn’t know any of that from news reports of what Romney said. Once again, a Romney fib evidently went unquestioned by reporters.

Yet Romney’s getting a free pass from the media all over the place, according to bloggers Jamelle Bouie and Steve Benen.

“Constant mendacity is the norm for Romney and his campaign, and odds are good that he won’t suffer for it,” Bouie wrote for The American Prospect online. “Campaign reporters don’t have a strong incentive to challenge him on his misrepresentations, and interested parties have a hard time dealing with the deluge. In other words, we should strap ourselves in and prepare for five more months of Romney’s truth-free operation.”

I don’t understand what Bouie meant by “campaign reporters don’t have a strong incentive to challenge him on his misrepresentations.”

But elsewhere in his piece he mused that “for political reporters with time and space constraint, there is no way to counter all this, even if you have the inclination. On a regular basis, the Romney campaign issues so many distortions—so many lies–that it’s nearly impossible to keep up.”

Of course, that’s idea of telling whoppers a mile a minute. It worked for Ronald Reagan, who was dubbed “the Great Communicator.” His critics called him “the Great Prevaricator” to no avail.

Anyway, on the Maddow Blog, Steve Benen has been regularly “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity.” The last time I looked, he was up to Volume 17, in which he quoted Bouie.

Benen also wrote that “it’s up to media professionals and voters to determine whether Romney’s extraordinary detachment from the truth is going to matter in this election or not. So far, the former governor is gambling he can get away with falsehoods that are as extraordinary as they are routine, and by all appearances, for now, he’s right.”

Amen, but don’t get me wrong. Reporters are just as obligated to scrutinize President Obama – and every other politician, Republican, Democratic, liberal, moderate or conservative. I’ve got no problem with our reporters even putting our pols on the hot seat face-to-face as British reporters routinely do to British politicians. berry craig

My guess is “Romney’s extraordinary detachment from the truth” is helping him. His roll of the dice that “he can get away with are as extraordinary as they routine” seems to be hitting sevens and elevens.

Romney is close to Obama in some polls and even a tad ahead in others. How much press coverage has to do with that is, of course, debatable.

So is bias, which is often in the eye of the beholder. Conservatives like Romney gripe about the “liberal media.” It’s the same media the Soviets scorned as the “bourgeoisie capitalist media” during the bad old days of the cold war.

In the end, the economy will be the main factor in determining the winner on November 6. But it’s hard to beat good press. Romney and his campaign staff must be high-fiving and fist-bumping each other over the Fourth Estaters who are, for whatever reason, acting more like lapdogs than watchdogs in covering him on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Londrigan wants working people, especially union members, to be news hounds and check out the Romney record themselves.

“Voters only have to look at the type of vulture capitalism that Romney practiced at Bain Capital to know where he stands on unions and workers’ rights. Just ask the thousands of workers whose jobs were destroyed at GST Steel in Kansas City, Missouri, when Bain Capital took over and sucked the life out of the company so that Romney and few other Bain executives could reap millions.

“Of course, this is only a single example of the type of slash and burn predatory capitalism that Romney ascribes to and from which he made his fortune. A worker voting for Mitt Romney is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders!”

Berry CraigLondrigan suggests a good place to start scrutinizing the Romney record is by taking a gander at the first video shown here from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, my late grandfather Vest’s union. He also recommends the second video shown here.

Berry Craig

Posted: Monday, 21 May 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on May 21, 2012
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.