It would easy to criticize this ad’s central claim, that Obama declared a “war on religion”. Yes, they can quote a newspaper headline to back that up, but it’s clearly not an actual fact. Nothing short of a direct quote from Obama saying “I hereby proclaim that a state of war exists between me and religion” would qualify it as a fact. It’s just a manner of speaking.
But that’s not what’s interesting about this ad, even though that’s all anyone is saying about it. No, what’s interesting is what happens next: the narrator says Romney “believes that’s wrong”. Then we have a clip of Mitt Romney saying something about the Pope. Then an endorsement from a guy who met the Pope. And finally the question “when religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?”
What’s missing here? Well, the ad never actually says Romney will do anything about this alleged threat to religious freedom. It doesn’t even say he’ll repeal the health-care law which allegedly does the threatening, even though that used to be his standard campaign line. It sort of insinuates that he might, but it makes no actual promises to do so.
Now, I think the whole “war on religion” story is bogus, but then, I’m not Romney’s target audience, who presumably does believe Obama wages war on religion. What I wonder is, does it not strike that target audience as curious that all Romney is willing to say is that he believes ‘war on religion’ is wrong? He is not willing to say he would do anything about it. It is almost like he is a cynical businessman using slogans to rally people to his side without actually committing to doing anything for them. Surely, that could not be so!