If Mitt Romney thought his new campaign video depicting unemployed Iowans was a way to counter the image that he lacks basic human empathy for those more vulnerable than himself — he's wrong.
According to Romney's campaign site, the video, called "A Few of the 23 Million" says: "Today, in the Obama economy, twenty-three million Americans are out of work, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work. These are the stories behind the statistics. These are a few of the twenty-three million."
As the DesMoines Register reports: "Interviewed for the campaign ad are Jason Clausen, a craftsman who worked on Mason City’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel but lost his own house and ended up in a homeless shelter; Deborah Ragland, a jobless Webster City woman whose unemployment benefits have run out; and Troy Knapp, an Alden man who lost his job and digs graves to help make ends meet."
Iowan Knapp says under Obama's economy the company he worked for shut down.
“In Webster City, Frigidaire was there for a hundred, you know a hundred years or whatever and they just up and said hey, we’re done here, you know?” he said.
But the Romney campaign leaves out a lot of context which makes it misleading to the viewer.
It is true that the 74-year- old company announced in 2009 that they were shutting down their plants.
But what the Romney campaign failed to relay was that the Swedish company had eliminated more than 1,000 Iowa jobs starting in 2006, a year before Obama even announced he would run for office.
"The announcement surprised no one at the Webster City plant, veteran employees said," UPI news reported Oct 24, 2009. "We knew it was coming. When they built the plant in Juarez (Mexico), we knew it was going to happen sooner or later. We were just waiting for the date," said longtime employee Dick Goldberg.
But Knapp says the company shutting down wasn't the only problem.
"My dad doesn't like me getting unemployment," Knapp says. "He hates it. Because he grew up in that mentality that you don't get unemployment. You don't live off the government. You do everything, you pay for everything your own way."
Promises from Obama during the 2008 election haven't been fulfilled, Knapp says.
"That's the problem," Knapp says. "A lot of people around here when Barack was running and all that, everyone believed, everyone had hope. They all thought 'Man, this guy's gonna get something done.'"
He continues, "When he is in office now it just seems like nothing's getting done. It seems like it's all talk. You can say whatever you want. But it's not about saying what everyone wants to hear, it's about doing it."
Knapp's situation mirrors many Americans not just those in Webster City. The problem is that it is a situation that starts between within a very important relationship that we have throughout our lives: parents. Hearing reference his dad when it came to unemployment made me wonder how often this happens when it comes to Obama. That is assigning anger to him that doesn't have anything to do with him.
But this is a charged topic in part because we often cling to the beliefs (even misbeliefs) of our parents to not lose their love as children and if not looked at and worked through, whether we realize it or not, even as adults, in a way still seeking their approval, their love.
Knapp proves this: My dad doesn't like me getting unemployment
Dr. Justin A. Frank M.D., who practices and teaches psychoanalysis in Washington, DC where he is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the George Washington University, wrote about this topic in his book Bush on the Couch, based on the presidency of George W. Bush, that as human beings with extensive histories, we often attribute to politicians unresolved feelings from relationships of our past.
The psychiatric term displacement describes an unconscious psychological compromise in which one expresses negative emotions about another person or thing, while the actual source of rage or disappointment remains obscure. For example, a man who is actually angry with his domineering wife focuses his unhappiness on his boss's shortcomings.
Two forms of protection result: the accuser finds some relief by venting his feelings without consciously recognizing the real source of his frustration -- which might cause even more anxiety -- and the genuine object of his fury remains unaware that these feelings are actually aimed at her.
The same pattern of displacement is familiar to families of alcoholics, where, for example, the children of an alcoholic father rail against the uncle whom they feel is responsible for their father's drinking. It is too dangerous to confront Dad directly.
The problem is that attributing to Obama something that belongs between relationships creates a new problem without solving the original problem.
Does not represent Iowans' current economic reality
Finally the video does not represent Iowans current economic reality as Politico notes, "some of the video was shot in Iowa, when there was still snow on the ground, meaning this has been in the can for some time." the article states. And that its imagery that fits with the sense of bleakness that Romney's campaign is seeking to convey."
But the campaign is conveying the wrong message. According to our local newspaper, the DesMoines Register, "Iowa is doing better than many other states, with an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, compared with 8.2 percent nationally, according to the latest figures, from March."
screenshot from handout
Iowa Unemployment Rates shown above county name are March 2012;
rates shown below are March 2011.
The state’s economy is showing relative strength, with four straight months of growth in the Iowa Leading Indicators Index.
Iowa has 13,300 more jobs this March than in March 2011. Unemployment insurance claims have dropped for 29 months, and analysts are optimistic that Iowa is well into its recovery.
A valid critique
And I'm not saying the Obama administration is without spot or wrinkle. As Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times "there is a valid critique one can make of the administration’s handling of the economy." I agree when Krugman says "the administration did less than it could and should have in 2009, especially on housing. Furthermore, Mr. Obama was an active participant in Washington’s destructive “pivot” away from jobs to a focus on deficit reduction."
But as Krugman wrote earlier this year, the same applies here, "that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people — and perhaps more to the point, the news media — forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out."
Romney's worse enemy: himself
After listening to these stories, Romney hopes you come to this conclusion:
“Hope and change has not been kind to millions of Americans," says a voice over in Romney's ad, "but they still believe in this great country, and deserve a leader who believes in them: Mitt Romney.”
Maybe you can help me answer this question: How does believing in 23 million people out of work, get them jobs?
Let's say that Romney believes in Troy Knapp who lost his job because the company decided to open up a multimillion dollar plant in Mexico where they could pay employees $2.50 an hour. How does Romney "believing" in Troy help him make ends meet?
It doesn't. In fact, it does worse: it appears to blame the victim leaving them burdened with no solutions, except well, his belief in them.
Romney is on the most important job interview of his career and it is up to him to convince us that he is worthy of the position of Commander in Chief, not the other way around.
"A Few of the 23 Million" loses sight of this. It instead illustrates that he doesn't value those who struggle enough to offer them real solutions or even truth, but says hire me anyway, what I say is good enough for you even if it isn't the truth.
Maybe the words, meant for Obama, is best meant for Romney that: "It seems like it's all talk. You can say whatever you want. But it's not about saying what everyone wants to hear, it's about doing it."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com