Conservatives are stooping incredibly low in a last-ditch effort to ensure that their candidate wins Georgia’s 6th Congressional District’s special election.
Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are going toe-to-toe for the spot that was left vacant by Tom Price when President Donald Trump appointed him secretary of Health and Human Services.
In an attempt to pull Handel ahead, Pro-Trump super PAC Great America Alliance is trying to sway black Georgia voters away from the Democratic Party by twisting the words of former President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reports.
In Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” he describes a conversation he had with a Chicago barber named Smitty back in the 1980s.
While cutting his hair, Smitty spoke to Obama about racial and political tension in Chicago prior to the election of the city’s first black mayor Harold Washington. He explained that before Washington, black people felt neglected by the Democratic Party.
In the audio version of the memoir, Obama directly quotes Smitty in his own voice. Great America Alliance has now taken that audio, cut out all the references to Washington, and used what was left to mislead voters into thinking Smitty’s words actually belong to Obama, giving the illusion that they apply to this particular election.
The ad begins with an introduction from conservative political activist Autry Pruitt, who is black and moonlights as a Trump surrogate. His portion of the ad argues that Democrats take black votes for granted.
“Hi, my name is Autry Pruitt, a fellow black American working hard every day, just like you,” Pruitt says. “It may seem out of season, but all of a sudden, Democratic politicians have started coming around again. We normally only see them every other November, swarming around and making promises to get our vote. But nothing ever changes for us, does it? Here’s what President Barack Obama had to say about it.”
Pruitt then segues into Obama’s passage:
“Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant,” Obama is heard saying. “But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey.”
After the snippet from Obama plays, Pruitt then tells listeners not to “sell out for another Christmas turkey.”
However, the excerpt — when read in its entirety — paints an entirely different picture.
“Had to be here before Harold to understand what he means to this city,” Smitty said. “Before Harold, seemed like we’d always be second-class citizens.”
“Plantation politics,” the man with the newspaper said.
“That’s just what it was, too,” Smitty said. “A plantation. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey. White folks spitting in our faces, and we’d reward ‘em with the vote.”
Politifact, a fact-checking resource run by the Tampa Bay Times, rightfully rated the misleading ad as “Pants of Fire.”
However, Pruitt spoke out to defend the PAC’s use of Obama’s words.
“The clip of President Obama was absolutely in context on this issue and helps make our point in the ad, which is why we used it,” Pruitt reportedly told PolitiFact.
Despite Pruitt’s attempt to defend the ad, Great America Alliance’s own co-chair, Eric Beach, used language that implies the spot was framed artistically rather than accurately.
According to CNN, Beach said the ad was an “outside the box” way to show “creatively” the history of Democrats’ treatment of black voters.
Using those phrases to sugarcoat the PAC's deception is almost as bad as Kellyanne Conway’s infamous “alternative facts.”
As senior adviser to Obama, Eric Schultz, aptly put it:
“Deceptively using President Obama’s voice to suggest people sit out of the democratic process is a form of voter suppression and it not only signals weakness, it runs counter to our American values.”
Sneaky falsehoods and fabrications of this nature are the very tactics that got Trump elected. As his presidency — thus far — is proving to be a total disaster, it won’t be so easy to keep pulling the wool over America’s eyes.
As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”