Political rhetoric often ignores nuance, preferring to dismiss attacks or ignore them in lieu of some other counterattack. Conventional wisdom says that nuanced explanations are not only confusing to many voters, but potentially reinforces the original attack by keeping it in the news. But Stephanie Cutter, the Deputy Campaign Manager for Barack Obama bucks this conventional wisdom and willingly enters the weeds of nuance to the delight of all of us who appreciate complete accuracy.
In the past she’s created detailed video responses to the attack ads of conservative SuperPACs. Some commentators questioned the move, but the video went viral and successfully armed thousands with accurate talking points to confront SuperPAC lies.
Now, Cutter has written a detailed takedown to FactCheck.org. FactCheck wrote an article alleging that the Obama campaign and the Washington Post unfairly “overreached” in painting Mitt Romney as an outsourcer based on moves taken by Bain Capital between 1999 and 2001. FactCheck based its criticism on the timeline — pushed by the Romney campaign — that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital in 1999 and therefore bears no responsibility for anything Bain Capital did from 1999 on.
Cutter cites interviews given by Ann Romney, Romney lawyers, and federal SEC filings filed by Bain Capital to prove that Mitt Romney did not leave Bain Capital until 2001. It’s detailed and scathing, employing a stream of evidence ripping apart the claims that Mitt Romney had no role in Bain’s outsourcing.
I’m not denigrating the importance of forging simple messages, but I reject the idea that campaigns must accept a zero-sum struggle between simplicity and detail. Cutter’s decision to tenaciously go after lies coming from Mitt Romney and his affiliated SuperPACs with reams of evidence may not make for a 15-second political ad, but it has a powerful impact in arming many of us with access to evidence and nuanced analysis that we can proliferate through social media and personal communication, which has far-reaching implications for the campaign because Americans are increasingly likely to trust the sources of people they know, personally or virtually, than “official” news channels. In this world, recognizing the importance of providing complete accuracy to those of us likely to talk politics functionally arms an entire legion of volunteer campaigners.