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How to Build a Swift Boat: Deficit Spending

by John P. Reisman last modified Nov 24, 2020 05:49 PM
Ads that appeal to our patriotism are hard to ignore. Centrists and Centrism, like other political ideals, hold to particular values, have hero's, have convictions about how we examine the data. The perspective of the Centrist Party is based on evidence. Centrism strongly supports the tenets of traditional conservatism as well as responsibility models held from more centrist democratic concerns. Modern Republicans/neo-conservatives are too liberal in their support for corporatism that feeds corporate socialism, as opposed to supporting the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people. And the Democratic Party is too liberal in its 'ideals' about how much the government can do or spend on these ideals. Centrism remains about pragmatic and well reasoned consideration of facts within the context of short AND long-term consequences.
How to Build a Swift Boat: Deficit Spending

How would President Reagan feel about being used in a deceptive Swift-boat Ad?

Ronald Reagan was a truly great president. He cared deeply about America and how the world could become safer by spreading democracy and freedom. He was a likable, personable, strong leader that held character not as a sales pitch like modern politicians, but as a part of his very being. Would President Ronald Reagan approve of having his words used in a video that so directly amounts to a lie by using facts so completely out of context as the video below? Highly unlikely.

Alright, how to build a good swift-boat: First find good appeal to emotion arguments that fire up your base.

  1. Republicans don't like Democrats.
  2. Republicans don't like President Obama.
  3. Republicans don't like big government.
  4. Republicans don't like regulations.
  5. Republicans don't like anyone getting in the way of getting what they 'think' they want that supports their perception of what is best.

What does all this mean from a Centrist or traditional conservative perspective? Well Centrism is about evidence based approaches to creating solutions that work for the short and long term considered together.

Is this video telling you the facts in context? No. It is a political advertisement that is designed to generally mislead you for a political purpose. It is literally constructed with logical fallacies including:

The use of logical fallacy is unreasonable and in this case should be considered unethical. To use an unethical argument to promote a political ideology as 'more' ethical is not merely a contradiction, it is hypocritical.

Let's take a look at the data in context. The below graph is from the data construct used to indicate deficit spending. It is the same data used by the creators of the political video advertisement above. When understood in context it tells a completely different story than the one told in the misleading video.

[click to enlarge]


Source: Table 15.6—Total Government Surpluses or Deficits (-) in Absolute Amounts and as Percentages of GDP: 1948–2011

The fact is that the only surplus occurred during the Clinton administration. The large increase that occurred in 2009 was due to the economic crisis that was 'allowed' to occur due to policies of the George W. Bush administration, largely because they were not paying attention. The result was that the American people were forced to bailout corporations that were behaving badly.

An interesting side note: Some of the leaders of many of these corporations have often openly, and loudly, stated they are against socialism..., that is until they needed socialism in the form of government support to bail them out for their mistakes.

The deficit would have spiked in 2009 and weighed on the economy even if Senator McCain had won the presidency. America was saddled with a massive credit bubble that burst due to a distinct lack of regulatory quality in the market system, largely because the previous George W. Bush administration was asleep at the wheel when it comes to objective economics.

What is also clear in the data used in the video is that since 2009 when President Obama took office he has systematically been reducing the percentage of deficit spending. The video is simply representing these facts out of context and blaming the bubble burst and consequent deficit spending increase on President Obama when in fact the massive increase was due to the previous Republican (Bush/Cheney) administration.

Now why were these facts not illustrated or discussed in this video? Simple, because the video is 'only' a marketing piece designed to sell you something. It absolutely misrepresents the facts. It is not representative of the truth. It is apparently designed to 'trick' you into buying a fantasy. Kind of like selling junk food and telling you it's healthy if you eat lots and lots of it.

This video is a disservice to true conservatives and gives conservatism a bad name. It is selling you a false argument based on misrepresentation of facts. Just because it's wrapped in pretty paper and bows (music and professional editing) does not mean it has anything to do with the truth.

What does this video really support? Oligarchy and plutocracy. It is not representative of well reasoned conservatism. It's not about facts, it's about trickery. It's about misleading you, the voter. It's not ethical, it's not even rational. What it is is an ad designed to sell you a product that isn't what it 'attempts' to represent itself as.

We the people need to recognize the truth about such political trickery, whether it comes from the left or the right. President Obama may not be the most engaging speaker, and both President Obama and Mitt Romney are committing puffery to make themselves look good. But this video, like most of its kind are simply not helping. In fact one 'should' argue that all such things that mislead, misdirect, or evade the truth to such grand extent are despicable.

Professional production used to mislead is certainly one of the best tools to trick voters into buying a fake argument. But if a political party is stating that 'they' are the more ethical party with the most integrity, and using nefarious methods to accomplish that goal then there is really only one conclusion one should draw. The method is a trick, a lie, a rouse, a fraud. It is unethical and one might even say immoral. Anyone that thinks this method is 'okay' because it helps your favorite candidate win is simply deluding themselves. You can't win by deception and then claim to be honest. Such a win is 'not' a win, it's a loss for all of America.


Americans can't afford to allow themselves to be convinced by 'misrepresented' information. When it comes to our economy and our national security at this critical time we must not pay attention to swift-boat ads that when understood in context demonstrate clear misrepresentation of the facts behind the data.

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