Liberals are again claiming that Obama is being taken "out of context" here. Slate's Dave Weigel says Obama was obviously referring to the Clinton-era tax rates -- which he mentioned just prior to "it worked." Five points: (1) If you read the full transcript of the speech, Obama was building a broader case against Mitt Romney's "top down" approach to governance (full of distortions, of course, but that's politics). The president described at length the "contrasting visions" that separate himself from his opponent, listing off tendentiously-phrased examples along the way. So the "context" of "it worked" was ambiguous, at best. The Examiner's Joel Gehrke makes this point, as does The Fix's Aaron Blake, albeit reluctantly:
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.
(2) If Obama was referring only to the Clinton-era tax rates "working" in the clip, is he using the royal "our" when he described "our policies"? Obama was a nowhere near Washington when those policies were in place. Also, within Democrats' preferred contextual intepretation, what exactly constitutes "their policies," which presumably didn't work, according to Obama? The Bush tax cuts? Last I checked, GDP growth, unemployment, and annual deficits were all much better under Bush than they've been under Obama -- up until the 2008 crash, that is, which had virtually nothing to do with tax policy. So if we're to believe that Obama was exclusively discussing Clinton's tax rates (why won't he praise Clinton's spending rates?), he's being rather promiscuous with the word "our," and he's mischaracterizing Republican-era policy outcomes.
(3) If Clinton's rates "worked," why didn't Obama and the Democrats re-impose them when they controlled everything for two years, which included a lengthy Congressional supermajority? And what has changed between 2010, when Obama defended his decision to maintain and extend the Bush rates based on the "fragile" economy, and now?
*(4)* If Obama was "taken out of context," as Democrats vigorously assert, don't those complaints tacitly concede that Obama's economic policies haven't worked? Think about that. I eagerly await the next defensive Obama advertisement: "Of course I didn't say that my economic plan worked..."
(5) Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Romney campaign secretly agrees with Obama supporters' view of this context flap. Let's assume they're deliberately ignoring the truth in order to score points and wound the president politically. Are those who are shrieking loudest now also willing to totally repudiate the tens of millions of dollars Chicago has already dropped on baseless, discredited "outsourcing" ads? They're still airing, despite earning 'Four Pinocchio' rulings and "no evidence" verdicts from fact-checkers. Even within the hypothetical Team-Romney-is-intentionally-fibbing scenario, aren't they merely giving as good as they've gotten? Hardball, and all that? In other words, cry me a river, Obama supporters. Let me clarify that I am not imputing those motives onto the Romney campaign here, and I wouldn't defend them if I thought they were being dishonest. They have taken Obama out of context before, which I condemned.
UPDATE - Right on cue:
Consumer confidence falls to 2012 low: The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures consumer confidence on a daily basis, fell another point on Thursday to the lowest level of 2012. At 78.5, confidence is down three points from a week ago, down three points from a month ago and down 11 points from three months ago. Confidence is down 19 points from the highest levels of 2012.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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