AR-Sen: Lincoln Uses Indian Imagery In Mailer

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    Last Friday, I mentioned this racist anti-Halter ad, and opined:

    One would hope that the [Blanche] Lincoln campaign would denounce the ad tomorrow if not sooner (though, at this point, I won’t hold my breath).  After all, given that Lincoln repeated the falsehood about Halter sending jobs to Bangalore as recently as Thursday on NPR, until she does denounce the commercial, she has to share some of the blame for its existence.

    When Lincoln did denounce the ad, I appropriately updated the post and noted that Lincoln had termed the ad “offensive.”  Given the hullabaloo that arose after this ad first appeared, I (naively) assumed that Lincoln would distance herself somewhat from the “Bill outsourced jobs to India” lie.

    Man, I hate it when I am wrong.

    This past week, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) condemned an outside group for running racially-tinged attack ads against her primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, slamming him for outsourcing jobs while serving on the board of a tech company. On the ground in Arkansas, however, her campaign has been distributing mailers that make the same charge using similar imagery.

    The Huffington Post was passed along a four-page mailer paid for by “Friends of Blanche Lincoln” that charges “Dollar Bill Halter” with profiting from a company that sent American jobs to India. The mailer includes pictures of the Taj Mahal on three of the four pages, as well as outlines of a presumably Indian skyline.

    “When Bill Halter was getting rich on corporate boards, outsourcing just meant more profits,” the mailer reads. “But now that Halter’s running for office, he’s suddenly upset that ‘our jobs are being shipped overseas.’ Can we really trust Bill Halter to stop outsourcing – after his company sent American jobs to India?”

    [***]

    Lincoln officially condemned the ad saying it was “offensive and doesn’t belong in Arkansas.”  In addition, she expressed her regret over AJS’s “participation in the campaign.”  Her campaign told the Huffington Post that she has had “no contact” with the group.

    Her mailer, however, has allowed critics to charge that she’s comfortable with AJS’s message even as she distances herself from the group’s taint.

    “The mailer isn’t just racist and disgusting it’s a lie,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the union conglomerate, AFL-CIO, which is backing Halter.  “Halter’s company never moved a single job overseas. It does however show how desperate and worried DC insider Lincoln’s business backers are getting about the race.”

    The Lincoln campaign, for its part, said the mailer is simply an effort to present information on Halter in a “straightforward manner with documentation” and doesn’t cross the line.

    “Sen. Lincoln believes Bill Halter should be held accountable for his record leading a company that outsourced jobs to India,” said Charlie Gocio, a spokesman for Friends of Blanche Lincoln.  Americans for Job Security, Gocio added, “chose to present that information using Indian actors in a way Sen. Lincoln believes is offensive.”

    While I disagree with Mr. Vale in that I do not think the mailer is inherently “racist” or “disgusting,” I agree that it is a lie.  As for Mr. Gocio’s alleged “documentation?”  It consisted of an excerpt of an SEC 10-K form, signed by Bill Halter as director of webMethods, Inc., and the Lincoln campaign’s misinterpretation of the same.

    Note, the excerpted SEC form says “increased utilization of our product development center in Bangalore, India … which has lower personnel costs and operating expenses than our product development centers in the United States.”  You know what it does not say?  That webMethods “saved millions by sending American jobs to India.”  You know why it doesn’t say that?

    Because that’s not what happened, because there is a HUGE difference between outsourcing jobs and adding jobs to an existing factory that just happens to be in another country.  In the former situation, jobs that previously were in America are no longer in America because they have been moved to another country; in the latter, the total number of U.S.-based jobs the company maintains is unchanged after the new jobs are added.

    You would think that this wouldn’t be hard to grasp.  You, like me, would apparently be wrong.  The mailer continues:

    Let’s tackle these in order, just for the sake of clarity.

    1. Halter’s Company Bragged About Shipping American Jobs to India. No, it didn’t—it explained that it had added jobs to an existing factory in India, having no net impact on American jobs.  I feel like we’ve been over this.

    2. American Workers Were in the Way of Halter’s Profits.  OK, (a) this is incredibly rich coming from someone who signed off on NAFTA and CAFTA.  What kind of jobs do you think get outsourced to Canada, Mexico, and Central America?  (Hint: It’s the ones that those citizens will do more cheaply than Americans.)  (b) If you want to argue that webMethods should have added jobs here in America rather than in India, be my guest (but excuse me if I choke on the irony), but stop calling this “outsourcing” or saying that “American jobs [were] sent to India.”

    3. Can We Really Trust Dollar Bill Halter?1 I love how you imply a certain amount of irony in Halter being “suddenly upset that ‘our jobs are being shipped overseas.'”  Small problem, though: that statement is only ironic if Halter had previously supported shipping American jobs overseas, which he demonstrably has not.  You know what IS ironic, though?  You continuing to make “outsourcing” an issue given your record on such things (see NAFTA, CAFTA references in #2, supra).

    So, to recap, in the Morally Relativistic World According To Blanche Lincoln:

    –Using Indian actors with forced accents and fake backgrounds = bad
    –Lying about Halter’s history of outsourcing, despite evidence completely to the contrary = not bad
    –Putting a picture of Halter over a picture of the Taj Mahal, which is 1,858 miles from Bangalore and therefore has nothing to do with your outsourcing claims except to evoke the same reaction as the commercial you already denounced = fine and dandy

    1 And the award for “Continued Usage Of The Least Clever Derogatory Nickname Ever goes to…”