Friday, August 31, 2012

Ed Morrissey Offers Hot Air About Janesville Plant

My first contribution to "MRCWatch" yesterday dealt with NB's Matt Vespa and a brief piece he penned about matters related to the now-shuttered General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan had said some things about it that weren't true, some MSNBC hosts had objected and Vespa attempted to take them to task but only succeeded in making a first-rate mess of the issue. I noted that every fact-checking operation had refuted Ryan's remarks but that the righty blogosphere was defending them. One such defense comes from Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air. The venue is appropriate. Morrissey's conclusions are not.

Ryan had trashed the Obama for promising, during a visit he made to the Janseville plant as a presidential candidate, to keep the plant open then allowing it to close in 2009. Obama never made any such promise though, and GM decided to close the plant before he ever became president. The plant was essentially closed in December '08--its main line was discontinued, its workforce (thousands of employees) was fired and only a skeleton crew of a few dozen people were kept on for a few more months to finish a last pending order by Isuzu.

Morrissey concedes the decision to close the plant was made in '08--that, alone, puts him a head over some of the clowns who have attempted to defend Ryan--but while insulting Ryan's critics as being without research skills, he, himself, makes a complete mess of the basic facts of what happened and when.

Morrissey flushes any hint of intellectual honesty right up front by playing the same game as the rest of Ryan's defenders, pretending as if that skeleton crew finishing that final order meant the plant was still open for business in 2009 and that Obama made a "promise" to keep it that way. He quotes Ryan from the RNC speech:

"President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

"Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight."
The bolding there was by Morrissey. Continuing from this quote, he writes:

"Ryan acknowledged that the plant had already been slated for shutdown in 2008. That was his point. People voted for him [Obama] because they thought Obama represented hope to get the plant back in operation. In fact, that had been known since at least February 2008, when Obama came to Janesville to speak, and specifically addressed the plant closure in his remarksdelivered at the plant itself--and promised to keep it and other plants like it open 'for the next hundred years'." [emphasis by Morrissey]

Here, Morrissey has been snagged by one of Ryan's lies. While Ryan directly implies, in the part Morrissey bolded, exactly what Morrissey said--that it was known at the time of Obama's campaign stop that the plant was going to shut down--that is, in fact, false. Obama's visit to the plant occurred in Feb., 2008; GM's decision to close it was first made and announced four months later, in June. Obama, lacking a time-machine, never addressed the plant closing in his remarks at that stop. So where did Morrissey get that notion? Well, after insulting the reading comprehension skills of Ryan's critics, he either completely misreads what Obama said or chose to misrepresent it. The former is the most likely explanation because the poor fool quotes Obama very noticeably not saying what Morrissey attributes to him:
"It was nearly a century ago that the first tractor rolled off the assembly line at this plant.  The achievement didn’t just create a product to sell or profits for General Motors. It led to a shared prosperity enjoyed by all of Janesville.  Homes and businesses began to sprout up along Milwaukee and Main Streets.  Jobs were plentiful, with wages that could raise a family and benefits you could count on.

"Prosperity hasn’t always come easily.  The plant shut down for a period during the height of the Depression, and major shifts in production have been required to meet the changing times.  Tractors became automobiles.  Automobiles became artillery shells.  SUVs are becoming hybrids as we speak, and the cost of transition has always been greatest for the workers and their families.

"But through hard times and good, great challenge and great change, the promise of Janesville has been the promise of America--that our prosperity can and must be the tide that lifts every boat; that we rise or fall as one nation; that our economy is strongest when our middle-class grows and opportunity is spread as widely as possible.  And when it’s not – when opportunity is uneven or unequal--it is our responsibility to restore balance, and fairness, and keep that promise alive for the next generation.  That is the responsibility we face right now, and that is the responsibility I intend to meet as President of the United States. …

"Those are the steps we can take to ease the cost crisis facing working families.  But we still need to make sure that families are working.  We need to maintain our competitive edge in a global by ensuring that plants like this one stay open for another hundred years, and shuttered factories re-open as new industries that promise new jobs.  And we need to put more Americans to work doing jobs that need to be done right here in America.
That's the full portion of the Obama remarks quoted by Morrissey and it's Morrissey's bolding as well. Obama refers to a point in the past when the plant shut down, talks about steps that can be taken to make sure that never happens again and Morrissey decides this is a reference to a coming plant shut-down, one that had neither been announced nor even decided until months after these remarks.

He concludes:

"Ryan had it exactly right, and the fact checkers have made a mockery of their own profession by stepping all over their own biases to refute Ryan."

In Morrisey's defense, at least he can honestly say facts are definitely not his own profession.


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