Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA ad "Understands" (below the fold) features Joe Soptic, who speaks emotionally about "when Mitt Romney came to town" and Bain Capital shut down the steel mill. Soptic lost his job and health insurance, and later lost his wife to cancer. His life was forever altered.
The media has tried to superimpose a "but for" causation analysis from tort law to this ad. The media asserts the ad implies that "but for" Bain Capital shutting down the steel mill and firing all its employees who lost their health care, Joe Soptic would still be working there with health insurance, and his wife might still be alive. Some A-holes in the media have gone so far as to assert that Joe Soptic is claiming that Mitt Romney "murdered" his wife.
On the contrary, Joe Soptic never makes a "but for" causation analysis. I have watched this ad several times, and I think one has to want to see a "but for" causation analysis to see one. Joe Soptic speaks about the emotional pain of losing his job and losing his wife to cancer. He simply states “I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone,” and “furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.”
Joe Soptic has identified "when Mitt Romney came to town" and Bain Capital shut down the steel mill as the date his life was forever altered. That is an emotional marker to which he is entitled -- we all have these kinds of emotional markers in our lives. Joe Soptic's emotions and beliefs are not subject to fact checking. They are his reality and how he copes with his loss and grief.
Jonathan Cohn writes at The New Republic, In (Partial) Defense of a (Supposedly) Indefensible Ad:
An unproven allegation is not the same as a disproven allegation. And stories like this really do happen. When older workers lose their jobs, they frequently end up in jobs with lower salary and benefits, leading to a downward financial spiral that can last for years. When people have no health insurance, they frequently react by delaying medical care. The Institute of Medicine famously concluded that 18,000 people a year die prematurely because they didn't have health insurance. That estimate may be too high, but there's plenty of evidence some lower number is accurate—and that many, many more suffer financially, physically, or both.
These facts matter, perhaps more than the specifics of Soptic's story, because the fate of the under- and uninsured is a central issue in this campaign. President Obama’s position is that the federal government has an obligation to make sure every American has health insurance, regardless of age, pre-existing condition, or employment status. That’s why he signed the Affordable Care Act, which puts in place a coverage system that will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. Romney, of course, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also wants to change Medicare and Medicaid so that they provide less financial protection, while introducing tax changes that would likely weaken employer-sponsored insurance.
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The specifics of Soptic's story remain ambiguous. The consequences of Romney's policy choices do not. Does talking about those consequences make some people uncomfortable? I can only hope so.