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I finally got around to watching the hard-hitting Priorities USA "Understands" ad, in which Joe Soptic tells the story of how he lost his job and his health insurance when Bain closed the plant where he worked, and of how his wife died of cancer because the family didn't have health insurance.

This ad:

Now, we're all aware of the firestorm this ad has provoked.  In Jon Stewart's take (from BruinKid's transcript in today's diary):

That's what I'm talking about.  Don't dance around Romneyhood or Obamaloney.  MITT ROMNEY KILLED THAT GUY'S WIFE!!  Who's full of Obamaloney now, wife-killer Romney?

Take a bow, super PAC guy who created the homicidal Romney ad.

And, of course, Romney may have killed his campaign when his spokersperson, defending her candidate from the attacks, quite correctly pointed out Mrs. Soptic would have had full access to the medical care she needed had the family lived in Massachusetts.

But what does the ad actually say?  As an organizer, I'll tell you I have no problem walking up to an undecided voter and selling them on the real content of the ad. Transcript and discussion below the fold.

According to Mark Halperin at Time, this is the transcript of the ad.  The entire text is Soptic's voice:

“I don’t think Mitt Romney understands what he’s done to people’s lives by closing the plant. [...] I don’t think he realizes that people’s lives completely changed. When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my healthcare, and my family lost their healthcare. And a short time after that my wife became ill. [...] I don’t know how long she was sick and I think maybe she didn’t say anything because she knew that we couldn’t afford the insurance, and then one day she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia and that’s when they found the cancer and by then it was stage four. It was, there was nothing they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days. [...] I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."
I've added ellipses to the transcript at those points where there are audio cues of an editing cut.  At the first cut, about the 15 second mark, there is a caption on the screen which says:
Mitt Romney and Bain Capital made millions for themselves and then closed this steel plant.  Reuters, 1/6/12
The second cut occurs at about the 22 second mark.  About ten seconds later, while Soptic is talking about his wife hiding her illness, a second caption appears on the screen:
Joe eventually found work as a custodian.  The job paid less than half his previous salary.
The message here is completely defensible, because it's true.  Romney made millions of dollar by closing down a steel plant.  The workers at that plant were unable to find jobs which paid as well or offered as good benefits as the jobs they had lost.  As a result of their descent out of the middle class, the families of those workers suffered real consequences, up to and including premature death.  Mitt Romney, who profited tremendously by throwing them out of work and causing the downgrade of their standard of living, does not understand or really care about their suffering.

This ad makes no outrageous charge against Romney, but simply and starkly spells out the human cost of economic "dislocation."  It is also completely on message with the broadest themes of the Obama campaign, that Romney is an out of touch elitist who seeks to profit at the expense of average Americans.

I'm proud of this ad.  I'll put it on my phone and defend it at the door when I talk with persuadable voters.

This is the message we need to communicate to win this election.  This is the message we need to communicate to take back our country and to restore our democracy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:37:50 AM PDT

  •  what this shows is something completely (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, phonegery, scarvegas, ladybug53

    normal -  or what goes for normal on the reich side.

    They listen to part of the ad. Whenever any democrat stands up and shows a spine, they go apeshit, regardless of the actual message. They take just a portion of what they heard, fold, spindle, puncture, bend, mutilate, and otherwise turn it into something it never was, and make their gnu and depraved version into the "truth."

    This is SOP for them. They really could not, did not, or were incapable of understanding the original message. But the original message does not matter. Only bits and pieces are needed for them to misuse as fodder for their outrage machine.

    In normal circumstances, the GOP whiners would go crazy (case in point, Dick Durbin's complaints about US torture in IraqNam) and the Dems would eventually cave in, fearful of their own shadows.

    What really pisses off the GO Peers is that we ain't cavin' this time. Not even Ed Rendell. Harold ford. or most of the DCCC. They see strength in the White House, and it empowers them, something they never experienced in their political lives before.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:48:30 AM PDT

  •  yes, only the media pundits are saying that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, phonegery, scarvegas, ladybug53

    not wanting to bring attention to their corporate sponsors that kill American jobs and outsource them overseas.
    There are literally millions of Joe's that have lost their jobs and healthcare during the past 2 decades, and especially during the Bush Error, due to Rmoney and other outsourcers.
    And outsourcing American jobs has just been accepted as the norm.

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:52:13 AM PDT

  •  Might want to think about editing that title (7+ / 0-)

    The "his" pronoun follows the only named subject of the sentence ("Romney") and links "wife" as a direct object.

    Your title suggest that you are making a point that the former Governor of Massachusetts has not been accused of murdering Anne Romney.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:03:49 AM PDT

  •  I'm saying it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, GrumpyOldGeek, scarvegas

    Romney killed this guy's wife. There.

    •  Well, apparently you'd be wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      It's been reported elsewhere ad nauseum that the woman had her own insurance for years through her own employer.

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

      by Neuroptimalian on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 12:38:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I completely disagree. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    valion, Neuroptimalian

    I think the only way to view this ad is that the speaker holds Romney's responsible for that tragic death.  

    Point 1: he says that the plant's closing, and his losing his job, meant that "his family" lost their insurance (which wasn't true as to his wife, since she had insurance until something like a year later, when she lost her job because of an injury).  So, point 1is "plant closing is responsible for wife not having insurance."

    Point 2:  he says that "shorty thereafter" his wife was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 22 days and having no insurance may have delayed her seeking care.  Unless five years is "shortly thereafter," this statement linking the two events -  loss of his job and her cancer diagnosis -- is not true.  At any rate, point 2 is "having no insurance helped cause her death."

    Point 3: Put them together and add "what [Romney]'s done."  He says (1) Romney caused my family not to have insurance, (2) shortly thereafter my wife died of cancer likely due to the fact that she was uninsured, and (3) then "I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone, and furthermore I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned."  So, point 3 is Mitt Romney doesn't realize what he's done (closing the plant and loss of insurance, resulting in the death).  

     How is that NOT a message that Romeny's decision to close the plant caused the woman's death?  

    As I said yesterday, the message that financial decisions to close plants hurt lives is perfectly fair game, but this particular ad sends the message that Romney is to blame for this tragic death, and THAT message is over the top and not defensible.

    •  Hmmm.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, scarvegas, ladybug53

      Let's do a little thought experiment, shall we?  Let's make the plant closing the dependent variable, and keep everything else equal.

      Let's imagine the plant does not close.  Soptic keeps his job at full salary, and he keeps his full health insurance.  Mrs. Soptic suffers her injury and loses her job.  Some time later (for you, five years is long, but for Mr. Soptic (and me) it is not), Mrs. Soptic begins to suffer early symptoms of her cancer.

      In those circumstances, with full health coverage and Mr. Soptic's good salary, does Mrs. Soptic visit the doctor for a diagnosis?  Or does she "not say anything because she knew we couldn't afford" the treatment?

      Looked at that way, your argument falls apart.

      Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
      ¡Boycott Arizona!

      by litho on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:03:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sHE HAD (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neuroptimalian

        her own insurance that she did NOT lose.

      •  That "but for" argument (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neuroptimalian

        does not equal causation.  I can think of a million things that could have happened differently in his life, or her life, that could have lead to a different outcome.  Each of those million decisions, or decision points, is not a cause of her death under any notion of causation that we go under in this country.

        I'm a lawyer, and to put it in legal terms, there's a difference between what is called "cause-in-fact" and "proximate cause."  "Cause in fact" is your "but  for" test -- a million instances where, if "A" had gone differently, B would not have happened. "Proximate cause" is where the link is strong enough to hold someone responsible.   For example, I decide to go to the store to buy some frivolous item I don't need.  You are speeding, taking a woman in labor to the hospital, run a stop sign, hit my car and kill me.  There are several "cause in fact" factors, under the "but for" test -- "But for" my deciding to go to the store, the woman getting pregnant, your being friends with the woman, the woman going into labor at the time, my deciding to take a car rather than walk, your deciding to drive her rather than call an ambulance, my death would not have happened.  But there are probably only two (speeding and running a red light) where there's a sufficient link to claim someone is responsible for the event.

        I can give you a million instances of "but for" or "cause in fact."  Suppose the wife had married somebody else who had a job that was not lost with a plant closing?  So, different husband would have provided health insurance even if she had lost her job.  "But for" marrying Mr. Soptic, she might have had a husband with insurance.  Does that mean Mr. Soptic caused her death by marrying her?  

        Or suppose Mr. Soptic had gotten a different job, in a different city, where no plant closed.  "But for" Mr. Soptic taking this job years ago, she might have had insurance.    Does that mean Mr. Soptic caused her death by taking that job in that city?

        Or supposed Mr. Soptic had decided to go into a career in the military or government  where he would have had insurance benefits. "But for" Mr. Soptic deciding against a government/military career, she would have had insurance.  (Or any other of millions of decisions he or she could have made along the way that would have changed the course of his and her life.)  Again, is the decision not to do that a cause of her death?

        Suppose she had gotten pneumonia earlier, say while she still had insurance in 2001 and the tests would have picked up cancer then.  Does that mean that staying healthy in 2001 caused her death?

        And (the most significant example) SHE lost HER insurance because of an injury, presumably not on the job (since there's no mention of her getting disability or anything like that).  If I recall, it was a rotator cuff injury.  Say she got it, oh, I don't know, playing tennis one day.  There are a million thinks that could have happened so that she would not have gotten that injury (like even giving up tennis or whatever activity she was doing when she was injured).  So, "but for" her doing the activity, she would not have been injured and would not have lost her health insurance and may not have died.  Under a "but for" test, she would be every bit as responsible for her own death as Romney, because if she had not done "A," she would not have been injured an lost her own health insurance.  There's an even closer link between HER losing HER insurance and her death than there is between HIS losing HIS insurance and her death.  So, under a "cause in fact" analysis, there's more causation assigned to whatever she did to get injured than there is to Romney closing the plant.  (That shows you why we don't use this kind of analysis to assign responsibility or blame for a bad event.)

        I use these as examples of why saying "but for A, B would not have happened" is NOT proof that A CAUSED B as we understand responsibility or blame in this country.  Not the same thing at all.  

        •  Why don't you go back (0+ / 0-)

          and look at the title of my diary?

          The cause of Mrs. Soptic's death was her cancer.  Mr. Soptic makes no other claim regarding her death.

          His real claim, which is inarguable, is that the loss of his job led to his loss of insurance.  And the lack of insurance made it difficult for the family to cover the (unrelated) costs of her illness.

          There is a link between the plant closing and the death of Mrs. Soptic, but that link is neither direct nor causal.  And the ad, under analysis, really says nothing more than that.

          Is it fair to point out that link?  Absolutely.  The ad highlights two core Democratic issues, economic fairness and the right to health care.

          Economic dislocation has real consequences.  Among those consequences is premature death.  Let Republicans defend that.  I see no reason a Democratic would even want to.

          Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
          ¡Boycott Arizona!

          by litho on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:37:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  And of course the Federal Government is never (0+ / 0-)

    responsible for this.

    Economic dislocation has real consequences.
  •  Faux noise is saying that Romney killed his wife (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho

    Wait. Romney didn't kill Ann.

    I'll start over.

    Faux Noise says that the guy killed his wife.

    Wait. That might look like some other guy killed his wife.

    Wait. Whose wife killed that guy?

    Oh crap. I give up.

    I'm so sorry for Joe Soptic's loss and I'm so sorry that Joe Soptic is spot on when he tells us that Willard doesn't give a crap about those people.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:16:41 AM PDT

  •  Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho

    on "day one."

    That's the other subtext of this ad. Under the ACA, if you lose your insurance because you lose your job, you can get another insurance policy without having to worry about the pre-existing condition exclusion.

    Romney wants to take away the solution to that problem. His "solution" is for the uninsured to move to Massachusetts.

    Seriously? That's ridiculous.

  •  Be careful or you'll be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho

    identified as not one of the villagers if you continue to not follow the narrative the pod has chosen.....

    "We thought about it for a long time, "Endeavor to persevere." And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union."

    by voodoochild62 on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:14:05 AM PDT

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