There's basic dishonesty and then there's f-you dishonesty--dishonesty so blatant, so consciously abusive of facts that everyone knows, that it deserves a category of its own. Kato Keilin: dishonesty. O.J.: f-you dishonesty.
Romney's new ad about Jeeps and Italy is f-you dishonest. You probably know the background. Bloomberg News moved a confusingly worded article last week suggesting, if you didn't read it closely, that Jeep (under Chrysler, owned by Fiat) was sending all its production to China. Romney said this on the trail.
I originally cut Romney a break here--some aide handed him a news article that was sloppily or strangely written, he read it on the fly, he decided to throw it in there. Not such a crime.
But then Chrysler ripped Romney and said no way, this is not true. Chrysler is thinking about putting plants in China down the road to try to increase market share there. But as for the here and now and the U.S. market, Chrysler is not only not cutting back domestic Jeep production but expanding it, investing $500 million in the Toledo, Ohio Jeep plant.
At that point, even most political campaigns would have just dropped it. They wouldn't apologize, because campaigns don't do that, but a normal campaign would just drop it and try to move on.
So what did Romney's campaign do? It cut a TV ad doubling down on the claim, cleverly worded so as to suggest that the Obama administration sold out America (and Ohio) by selling Chrysler to the Italians who are moving production to China.
Jon Cohn of TNR has a good write-up here that goes into more detail on domestic auto industry employment, which was cratering before the bailout and has picked up briskly since. The "say anything" credo of the Romney campaign continues and mushrooms. I think this one might backfire though. Are the workers and voters of Toledo amused being knowingly misrepresented and used like this? I'd like to see an Obama ad featuring some of the workers at this very plant.