One of the perennial realities of campaign politics is the inevitable trajectory candidates take when moving from obscure also-ran to emergent underdog to front-runner: the higher the profile, the greater the scrutiny, and the added importance of “oppo” research. Many media observers have noted, in the wake of Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate in Arizona, that Rick Santorum was besieged by his opponents with attacks based on his voting record in the US Senate.
The primary thrust of the charge: While campaigning as a principled, uncompromising champion of cultural conservatism, Santorum’s voting record reveals a pattern of votes on policy that contradict his avowed platform, sometimes in stark ways. This exchange from the debate provides a prime example:
In the immediate term, this problem requires Santorum to manage the apparent inconsistencies between his current rhetoric and his past record. More broadly, this is yet another example of the challenges faced by current and former members of Congress who run for the presidency — ironically, the more experience you have, the greater the paper trail from which opponents can cull decontextualized bits of business to form the basis of an attack. But for me, the most important consequence of this phenomenon is the continuing assault on collaborative negotiation and compromise that resides at the heart of deliberative democracy.
Just in time for Christmas (and the Iowa caucuses), the Annenberg Pubic Policy Center’s Factcheck.org presents its “Whoppers of 2011,” what they describe as “the year’s worst political deceptions, from both sides.” Here’s their summary, as a teaser:
Despite what you may have heard in 2011:
The new health care law won’t cost many jobs (and they’ll be poorly paying jobs at that).
Republicans aren’t proposing to “end” Medicare (and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has signed onto a modified version of the GOP plan).
Most of the “millionaires” who would pay higher tax rates under a Democratic proposal aren’t job-creating small-business owners.
President Obama’s mother didn’t really fight to get health insurance coverage as she was dying.
And there was plenty more spin and deception in 2011. Obama claimed he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher. Michele Bachmann endorsed a claim that HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. Joe Biden claimed rapes quadrupled in Flint, Mich., after police layoffs. And that’s just some of the nonsense we debunked.
For our full run-down of the worst political whoppers we encountered during the year, please read on to the Analysis section. And get ready for more in the presidential election year that is about to begin.
Definitely worth a peek, courtesy of the best nonpartisan fact-checking researchers in the biz.
When Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) announced yesterday that he would not seek reelection, retiring from Congress after 31 years of representing Massachusetts’ 4th District, he signaled the end of three decades of polarizing public rhetoric and, like him or loathe him, audacious and tireless public service.
Frank will be remembered as a unique character in American politics.
Note: The views of the Political Denizens, their guest contributors and visitors do not reflect those of Augustana College. The Denizens are thankful to the College for providing them with resources and an outlet for their observations and commentary in the spirit of academic freedom and free public speech.