Jewish World Review July 23, 2012/ 5 Menachem-Av, 5772
Anatomy of a smear
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Not a presidential election goes by without producing another prize specimen for my extensive collection of Famous Smears I Have Known, and this year's campaign is no different. It's a red-white-and-blue, dadgum all-American tradition, telling whoppers about the opposition. It goes back at least to 1800 and the Adams-Jefferson match.
Yes, somewhere among the faux presidential scandals of the past, there are real scandals like Teapot Dome and Watergate. Or, in more recent years, L'Affaire Lewinsky. But for the most part, accusing a presidential candidate of something he never did has become just an empty ritual for the quadrennial madness known as an American presidential campaign.
Near the top of the long list of scandals that weren't is
But there are some close runners-up on this dishonor roll, like the recurrent charge that the current president of
Also true hucksters like the inimitable (thank goodness)
Some smears even add new verbs to the always changing American language -- like swiftboating for tarring an opponent, a term that owes its origins to the 2004 campaign to discredit
It doesn't even have to be an election year for conspiracy theories to take wing.
This year's prize whopper has already appeared, though the presidential campaign is still young. It's become an article of faith for the Obama camp. It has to depend on faith since there's no real evidence for it. But by now it's been supported by the president himself, who's made himself a kind of accessory after the (absence of) fact.
The essence of this accusation? It's that
To back up this story, the president's operatives -- in the great fake-but-accurate tradition of
Documents that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that official filings list Mr. Romney as -- ta-da! -- managing director of Bain for some time after he left. And what's a managing director do if not manage? Q.E.D.!
It's a sleight-of-word trick, since the essential question isn't what title Mr. Romney retained while his company was looking for a successor but whether he was actively managing Bain during that time. He wasn't. And despite all the smoke and mirrors, there's not a shred of proof he was.
That little detail hasn't discouraged
By now a former if impeached president has joined the current one in raising questions about Mr. Romney's veracity.
Other exercises in irony are doubtless to come, like
As for this latest accusation against
For example: FactCheck.Org, which is scarcely a Republican mouthpiece, looked at the Obama campaign's "facts" and concluded, to quote its scholarly response to Team Obama: "Your complaint is all wet."
And when the Obama people re-issued their smear with new citations, FactCheck examined them, too, and reached the same conclusion. To quote that great political commentator
Nor is FactCheck alone. The fact checkers on this story are legion, and just about unanimous:
But old smears never die, they just fade away. And some folks will believe them to the end. Or as Groucho Marx might have put it, "Who you gonna believe, the Obama campaign or your lyin' eyes?"
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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