Stephanie Cutter Is My Hero

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.

4 comments for “Stephanie Cutter Is My Hero

  1. July 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Stephanie Cutter, YOU STUPID IGNORANT PEA-BRAINED MORON! How could you be so supportive of Obama in view of what he’s done to this country! He’s run up more national debt than all previous U.S.presidents COMBINED! He has destroyed the economy, He takes all these expensive vacations at taxpayers expense! He playd more golf during his first year in office than George W. Bush did in his entire term! Unemployment among blacks is over 14%! More people are going on government assistance than ever before! He is a ABSOLUTE DISASTER!! Where is your common sense! How you can you be so supportive of him after all the misery he has caused??

  2. July 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    OK…let’s go through this bit by bit:

    >>>He’s run up more national debt than all previous U.S.presidents COMBINED!

    This is false and has been debunked more than once (e.g. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/05/politifact_nj_obama_added_more.html or even better http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/ezra-klein-doing-the-math-on-obamas-deficits/2012/01/31/gIQAnRs7fQ_story.html).

    >>>He has destroyed the economy,

    When he took office, the Dow was trading around 8000. It’s now 12,600, over a 150% of the January 2009 number. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. The economy was shedding 750,000 jobs/month when Obama took office. It’s now added jobs for over 2.5 years. Yes, he’s really ruined the economy…

    >>> He takes all these expensive vacations at taxpayers expense!

    Everything a President does is at tax payer expense to the extent they bring a Secret Service detail and many key advisors with them. But three one week trips to Martha’s Vineyard and a couple trips to Hawaii is hardly troubling. This story from last August put it best (http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-20093801.html) noting: “So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch.”

    >>> He playd more golf during his first year in office than George W. Bush did in his entire term!

    True. Almost always with advisors and sometimes with Boehner which make those more working events, but I digress. It’s worth wondering how much golf Bush would have played had he not decided to give it up during the war.

    >>> Unemployment among blacks is over 14%!

    This is bad, though since 1980 black unemployment has mostly hovered between 10-15% with only the boom of the late 90s bringing it below 10% for any length of time. (http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/02/news/economy/black_unemployment_rate/index.htm). With that context, unemployment of around 14% is in line for a recovery from a massive recession.

    >>> More people are going on government assistance than ever before!

    This number requires some shady accounting. Basically you need to say that targeted tax credits and government loans count as “assistance.” That may or may not be fair, but the sentence makes it sound like more people are getting something like welfare than ever before, which is not a fair statement.

    >>> He is a ABSOLUTE DISASTER!! Where is your common sense! How you can you be so supportive of him after all the misery he has caused??

    I guess because I remember how disastrous this economy was in early 2009 and I recognize the remarkable turnaround it’s undergone in just 3 short years and I respect that the policy options that Obama has tried to enact and been blocked by Congress would expand the economy even greater than he’s done so far.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have problems with the Obama administration, but these are none of them.

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