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What is Political Spin?

Updated on February 6, 2017

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."


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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