Time was when Republicans decried the “postmodernism” they believed pervaded American Universities, by which they meant, I think, a sort of broad cultural relativism. Postmodernism, as I understand the core of it (which is very little), takes a dim view of any notion of objective truth; all beliefs, whether ethical or scientific, should stand or fall on pragmatic grounds, if on any grounds at all. But now Republicans seem to have adopted just such a postmodernist stance when it comes Mitt Romney’s political campaign. As reported by Buzzfeed–
Mitt Romney’s aides explained with unusual political bluntness today why they are spending heavily — and ignoring media criticism — to air an add accusing President Barack Obama of “gutting” the work requirement for welfare, a marginal political issue since the mid-1990s that Romney pushed back to center stage.
“Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O’Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. “It’s new information.”
The welfare ad has been the center of intense dispute, with Democrats accusing Romney of unearthing old racial ghosts and Romney pointing out that the Obama Administration has offered states waivers that could, in fact, lighten work requirements in welfare, a central issue in Bill Clinton’s 1996 revamping of public assistance.
The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Romney’s ad “four Pinocchios,” a measure Romney pollster Neil Newhouse dismissed.
“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” he said.
I don’t always agree with fact checkers myself; no one is infallible, and no one is completely unbiased. But some people value rationality and objectivity (those old-fashioned modernist notions) more than others, and strive to achieve them by at least trying to base their beliefs on well-verified evidence. The Romney campaign should dispute fact-checkers all they like, but they should dispute them with logical argument and counter-evidence, not with only a pragmatic or political end in mind.