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What is Political Spin?

Updated on February 6, 2017
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When I was a young boy in the 1950's before television, I used to listen to a program on the radio called Captain Midnight. It was sponsored by Ovaltine, a chocolate powder milk drink that was really supposed to be good for you. I found I could get a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring (It was really a badge.) by sending in a label from a bottle of Ovaltine. After receiving my badge, I would run home from school and decode the message. It was a simple message like Obey Your Parents or be kind to everybody. Here is a YouTube video of one of Captain Midnight's Commercials, just for those of you who can remember that far back.

What's happening today with the spin that politicians are putting on campaign rhetoric, reminds me of the days of Captain Midnight and the decoder ring.

I was on a hub page, where the author said this is what Obama said in his speech in Roanoke Virginia, he based his enire hub on this premise:“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

You be the Judge

Most of the comments were negative and lamenting about how Obama is stressing that business people cannot do it on their own without the help of the government. So I copied the actual transcript of what was said in that part of the speech and pasted into the comment field, with the comment: "You Be The Judge." Again most of the comments were still negative. It was as if they were using my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring and reading a secret message that was embedded in his transcript. Some of the comments would get off track and off on a tangent, so I re posted the transcript three times. It didn't matter, they were interpreting it based on what they believed he said, not what he actually said.

So I decided to do some research and here is what I found on the Daily Beast website. All of the text is actually what Obama said, the part in bold is what Romney used as an attack against Obama. I now understand their interpretation of what was actually said. They were using a Romney Decoder Ring to support their own vaule and belief systems.

Obama's Speech/Romney's Attack

Source, the Daily Beast:

All text = What Obama Said

Bold = What Romney said Obama Said

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires."

Conclusion

There always seems to be the trials and tribulations of the candidates during an election year. But here is the truth. The incumbent is in a position to be much more specific about issues because they have lived through the trials and tribulations of issues during their time in office. The opposition cannot speak in specifics, because they really don't know what is ahead of them until they get in office. They can pledge the moon, but until they get into office, they will not be able to speak in specifics, but everything will be in hypothetical's and hyperbole.

They will use relative terms like, we can do a better job, failed policies, not a real recovery, our plan is better, balance the budget and we will dismantle (fill in the blank)

They will attack their opponent by placing adjectives in front of nouns like failed (fill in the blank) policy; job killing (fill in the blank); (fill in the blank with some percentage) of gdp; entitlements.

Last Thursday (10/11/12), Stephen Colbert had brilliant segment of Formidable Opponent, where he debated himself about Mitt Romney's positions. And in it, there was one key question he asked which lays to waste Romney's entire tax proposal.

Stephen just laid it all out. If Romney's simply going to close enough loopholes that the wealthy still pay the same amount, what's the point of doing all this anyway

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    • peoplepower73 profile image
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      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      I complied with the Hub Page style tip noted below:

      "Uh-oh! It looks like you have a large number of Amazon or eBay products grouped together. We recommend placing one relevant product next to the text where the product is mentioned."

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      movingout: It's amazing the emotion that is involved in this game of politics. I imagine, it's almost the way the people thought during the civil war! Thanks for stopping by and the votes.

    • movingout profile image

      movingout 4 years ago from Georgia

      Peoplepower73, great hub, voted up! Amazing how this campaign has become a game of telephone for so many!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      JayeWisdom: You can get on your soap box all you want. They say that Obama has never seen the inside of lemonade stand. Well Paul Ryan in 12 years in congress was able to pass two bills. One is on changing the taxes on arrows (like in bow and arrows) and the other was about changing the name of a post office in his district. They have no room to talk. Thanks for dropping by and you didn't usurp my hub.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      The GOP propaganda machine that spews out non-facts to suit its very limited agenda targets only the narrow-minded. They must be using a GOP Decoder Ring!

      However, it could not have been working last week when Paul Ryan stated in an interview (on camera for the record) that rape is "a method of conception." There's no way to get a positive sound bite out of that statement! I'd like to get the transcript for that interview.

      Bloggers jumped on it right away, but the mainstream media seems to be letting Ryan get by with that horrible statement...in spite of skewering Akins for his rape comment. When you think that a VP is only a heart attack or plane crash away from the presidency, it is extremely frightening that the #2 person on the GOP ticket describes rape in such a manner without even referring to the feelings of the woman victimized by such a crime. A female blogger wrote that Ryan and his ilk think of all women in their child-bearing years as "Easy-Bake Ovens" with no purpose other than baby-making.

      Sorry....I didn't mean to get up on my soapbox and usurp your hub in the comments section. I just got carried away!

      Very good hub. Up+++

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Hi DeborahNeyens: I'm glad you liked my Capt. Midnight decoder ring analogy. Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine! Thanks for dropping by.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      As some of the comments to this hub point out, people hear what they want to hear, no matter how far removed from reality it may be. Love the Captain Midnight Decoder Ring analogy.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      adjkp25: Thanks for the comments. That's exactly how I feel. I don't want politicians and the media telling me this is what I want and this is what the American people want. I want to stay informed and make my own decisions. Thanks for stopping in and the vote up.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      This is a prime example why i don't hold too much stock in sound bites. If this was before the internet it would be cumbersome to look up what was actually said. However the internet makes the transcripts very easy to obtain, if you elect not to you are doing yourself a disservice and allowing someone else to feed you what they believe you need to hear.

      Voted up

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Ginger Ruffles: Yep! You got the message. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to drink your Ovaltine!

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

      LOL, a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring and secret messages...yes via Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers and more!

    • profile image

      SassySue1963 5 years ago

      @peoplepower You have to click the other button. The one that sorts it by Share of Federal Taxes Paid.

      I'm honestly trying to understand how you come to any other interpretation of this speech.

      ""There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back" there I only used the words you wanted me to. That is enough. If it is not Government who they are supposed to "give back" to then who is it? If you mean those less fortunate, most of the wealthy in this country DO give back but they do so through charities and/or their time serving non-profit organizations.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      SassySue1963: As my Father used to say: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." I tried, but if you are decoding it with a different decoder than me, then this is an exercise in futlitiy. I gave it my best shot.

      By the way, I think your tax chart has a typo in it. The paragraph heading says 71%, it should say 17%. When I analyzed the chart there was no way I could correlate it to 71%. If you can, please explain how you did it.

    • profile image

      SassySue1963 5 years ago

      lol Why would you remove the sound bytes? President Obama DID say those words in bold. They really are not that out of context as you are trying to claim. Especially the first part. The second part may be construed as out of context some, and I can agree they should have included the part about the roads and bridges. It does not change the message of the speech. You're successful, you owe a debt to the government who helped you. That is why I'm raising taxes. I fail to see how you interpret this speech, given to justify the tax hike, as anything other than that. Whether you use the entire speech, or the sound bytes.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Davesworld: I went to your hub and you can see my reply there, Thanks for hi-jacking my hub!

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      There is so much silliness here that it cannot be addressed inside a comment box, so I went and wrote a Hub:

      https://hubpages.com/politics/Obama-Says-Governmen...

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Hi Barbara Kay: Yes I have a new saying: "Listen to the words." It's as if many of the people have made up their minds as to how they are going to respond before they even read the words. I think the big moneyed interests have caused this competition by funding the attack ads. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this piece.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      Everyone seems to hearing what they want to hear. I wish politicians would just talk about what they would like to do if elected instead of slamming the other ones. Romney is good at doing that.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      An AYM: I agree with you. It's interesting how they can read so much into sound bites that are taken out of context. If it fits their agenda, then it must be fact. But that's the way propaganda is supposed to work. I'm just trying to advertise the facts and let them come to their own conclusions...sometimes it works and somtimes it doesn't. It's almost like an anorexic person looks in a mirror and sees themselves as fat. Hey I like that metaphor! Thanks for dropping by and your thoughtful comments.

    • profile image

      An AYM 5 years ago

      I like your post. It's frightening how strong of opinions can be formed on such a lack of knowledge. Things like this are why I take political fervor with a grain of salt until I read it for myself too.

      Voted up. More people should present their thoughts surrounding political issues like this. Rather than just screaming the alternative stance, we all get further when we encourage knowledge and information.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Hi Davesworld: In that phrase, he is talking about the infrastructer, like road bridges and the internet. The problem with this is, it was a 42 minute speech. Romney only focused on this part and then took it out of context. So what you are passing judgement on is only a very small part of the entire speech. I know you won't read the entire speech transcript. So you are entitled to your opinion. However as far as the American Dream goes Obama is a perfect example of what can happen in this country: A man of bi-racial ethnicity coming from a meager background and rising to the level of President. Of course, that's my opinion. Thsnks for the comments

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      "if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own."

      This is enough, all by itself. Your are willingly forgetting that the entrepreneur paid for government services just the same as you and I pay for them. And the more successful the entrepreneur became, the more he or she paid. This is not what America is all about and a complete repudiation of the "American Dream." Damning indeed.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Ron Hawkster: It's as if they are spell-bound with some magic potion. And if you break the spell, their whole house of cards comes crashing down. I like to do the research and get to the root cause of these issues, but they accept these things based on if it fits their agenda.

    • Ron Hawkster profile image

      Ron Hawkster 5 years ago from United States of America

      Hi Peoplepower,

      I share your frustration. In some of those cases you can tell people have trouble having an intelligent discussion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. There are no rules of debate online, and people say what they want. There is no consequence. Some just don't know how to have a real debate. They think it's war and doesn't matter who says what so long as they get to have the last word. There is a lack of intellectual honesty and so one starts getting more careful whether it's worth it to get into a debate with them.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Hi Ron Hawkster: Not a problem, we all need a good laugh now and then. I was just experessing how I felt about these guys after presenting what was really said and they kept reading somethink else into it, like the had a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring (badge) that the the secret message that I was not seeing. Thanks for reading it and making light of it.

    • Ron Hawkster profile image

      Ron Hawkster 5 years ago from United States of America

      PeoplePower, I decided to decode your first paragraph using my Captain Tomorrow Afternoon ring and see what it decodes. The original text: "When I was a young boy in the 1950's before television, I used to listen to a program on the radio called Captain Midnight. It was sponsored by Ovaltine, a chocolate powder milk drink that was really supposed to be good for you. I found I could get a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring (It was really a badge.) by sending in a label from a bottle of Ovaltine. After receiving my badge, I would run home from school and decode the message. It was a simple message like Obey Your Parents or be kind to everybody. Here is a YouTube video of one of Captain Midnight's Commercials, just for those of you who can remember that far back."

      The decoded message says:

      "boy, listen to Ovaltine. chocolate was good for you. get a bottle of Ovaltine, Obey Youtube commercials."

      (I can't highlight those words in the original text, so you're going to have to trust me that those words came from the original text in that order.) (P.S., sorry for wasting your time. I was just trying to have fun.)

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      If you remove Romney's sound bites, what is it that is so damming about what Obama said? Thanks for dropping by.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      I see no indication that the full quote is any less damning towards Obama than the parts that the Romney ad quotes.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Patty Kenyon: Yes they their opinion is already set, so it doesn't matter what the transcript says. They decode the words to fit their agenda. Thank you so much for dropping by. I hope this gets shared with many people.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Interesting information!!! It is interesting how words are twisted to work to the benefit of the person doing the twisting!! Thanks for sharing!!