The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler fact-checks Americans for Prosperity's latest 30-second television ad on the ineffable evils of Obamacare and finds that it is, ahem, "misleading," which is like assessing Goebbels' rhetoric as "disingenuous," Stalin's Russia as "harsh," or the Bieber's musical abilities as "questionable."
I don't intend that as a criticism of Kessler. The poor man labors within the respectable confines of mainstream journalism, which dictates that a spade must never be called a spade, a lie a lie, or malefactors of way too much wealth a malevolent pack of propagandistic skunks. The latter appraisal of AFP is incontestably more accurate than two, three, or even four "Pinocchios," which are cute little characters of storybook fiction who can hardly do justice to real-life prevaricators and fabulists.
Still, Kessler is battling an even greater obstacle to human enlightenment than Prosperous Americans for Falsehoods Etc.: humans. As Mother Jones noted earlier this month, university researchers of the human condition have found that "presenting people with information confirming the safety of vaccines triggered a 'backfire effect,' in which people who already distrusted vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate their kids." Similar backfires occurred upon clarifying, for instance, "death panels," Obama's religion, and the nonexistent Qaeda-9/11 connection. Concluded Mother Jones' Chris Mooney, "next time you feel the urge to argue back against some idiot on the internet … pause, take a deep breath, and realize not only that arguing might not do any good, but that in fact, it might very well backfire."
All of which leads me (and, eventually, perhaps Glenn Kessler) to this simple conclusion: Congressional Democrats are wasting their time arguing the merits of Obamacare over the opposition's lies. Western civilization may have indeed experienced some material benefit from the Age of Enlightenment's empirical struggles, but muddled humans are still savagely muddled--and they respond, as Republicans correctly determined decades ago, to pounding negatives far more than edifying positives.
That general principle should guide the Dems in their rhetorical exertions in this, an election year. Defend Obamacare by correcting the record? Pshaw. Attack Republicans. Defend nothing.
Merely a brief history of the GOP's peculiar grandeur--a massive recession, titanic debt, a fabricated war, government shutdowns, ruinous extortion--intoned with metronomic relentlessness on the campaign trail and in grainy, b&w television ads should adequately appeal to American humanity's darker side. True, it's a pity it's come to this, but this is what works. Just ask any Republican strategist.