You should not infer anything when the Google registers
a nearly-tenfold increase in the number of hits
for a given string in a single week.
Using Google hit counts to conclude anything significant about the real
world is a totally bogus methodology.
Just one item this week:
Jonathan Bernstein, writing at the Washington Post
promises to detail the "Anatomy of a phony Romney talking
point." Turns out: it's complicated. Although Bernstein does his
best in a short blog post to point his shaky phony-blaming
finger at Romney.
What phony thing did Romney say? Bernstein refers to
an NYT blog post by Michael Barbaro: "Now Who's Out of
Touch? Romney Tries to Turn the Tables on Obama". Barbaro noted
the Romney campaign's newly discovered ability to respond quickly to the
silly things President Obama says. (Just as the Obama campaign has long
done with the silly things Mitt says.)
So what silly thing did the President say? In this case, it was in an
interview with a Iowa TV newsperson,
Matt Breen asked, "One of those companies I
mentioned said, specifically, that they had to close, and move 111 jobs
to Wisconsin, because of health care reform you put forward, and
Congress passed. What's your reaction?"
"That's gonna be hard to explain, that the only
folks that have been impacted in terms of health care bill are insurance
companies required to make sure that they're providing preventative care
or not dropping their coverage when you get sick, so this particular
company probably wouldn't have been impacted by that," said President
Romney, reported the NYT blogger, jumped all over the "hard to
A gaffe? Mr. Romney treated it that way, and in his speech at a factory
that makes air filters, he called the statement "something else that
shows just how much out of touch" the president is.
"He said he didn't understand that Obamacare was hurting small
business," Mr. Romney said. "You have to scratch your head about that."
And Romney cited a 2011 survey
of small business owners
performed for the US Chamber of Commerce; 75% of those surveyed
claimed "the healthcare law makes it harder to hire more employees."
So what makes Romney's talking point "phony"?
Ah, said Bernstein: it's phony because
Obama was responding to Breen's question
about a particular company, Nemschoff Chairs.
(Nemschoff makes furniture for the health care market; that
turns out to be important.)
Nemschoff, as it turns out, is not closing up shop entirely,
just its facility in Sioux Center, Iowa. And, although it's
not great news for the 111 Nemschoff employees losing their jobs
in Iowa, some (smaller)
number of jobs will open up in Wisconsin, the company's other
Oh, it's possible that the company in question claimed that
Obamacare was responsible. But I'll put heavy, heavy money on the
proposition that this move was made for simple, boring business reasons
that had nothing at all to do with anything coming out of
So, Bernstein claims, Obama was totally correct to
find the facts behind
Breen's question "hard to explain"; therefore Romney's deduction
that Obama is "out of touch" is, like, totally phony. Q.E.D.
Bernstein apparently failed to spend a few seconds Googling
for what the company actually
said a couple weeks ago
about the closure:
[…] representatives from Nemschoff's Parent
Company Herman Miller, Inc. [blame] the new healthcare law and
federal regulations for the slow down.
Herman Miller Inc.'s Mark Sherman said, "One
of the big challenges we continue to face is a lot of healthcare
customers have delayed spending on their facilities because of long term
uncertainty surrounding the healthcare reform act. We also have more
cost with new federal regulatory requirements."
Bernstein's post went up at 10:50am on Wednesday June 13.
At 2:09pm later that day, perhaps after noticing that Bernstein's
claims were unsubstantiated, and contradicted by the company itself,
Greg Sargent proceeded to … double
It turns out that the company didn't close because of Obamacare at
all, according to a company spokesperson. What's more, the company
sees lack of demand as the key problem -- a lack of demand that
is partly due to the drive to repeal or modify Obamacare, not to
the implementation of the law itself.
Sargent hectored company spokesman
Mark Schurman (who I would bet is the same guy as the
"Mark Sherman" quoted above) to spin his previous remarks:
"The ongoing uncertainty surrounding what health care reform will
take place has caused some health care provider customers and other
related aspects of the industry to defer investments in their
facilities," Schurman said.
"The issue is not the administration's proposed reforms," he
continued. "The issue is that there is no certainty as to what reform
is going to look like. Is it going to be repealed or modified? Is it
going to be decided in June by the Supreme Court, or the election? Or
decided through a series of lawsuits?"
"The uncertainty is caused by the ongoing debate," Schurman said.
"Were there no ongoing debate, there would be no uncertainty."
Sargent apparently didn't ask Schurman to reconcile his current comments
with the ones he made when the closing was announced.
So the adjusted Sargent/Bernstein argument
seems to be:
hey, Obama and the Democrats may have punched through wildly
unpopular legislation of dubious constitutionality, but
none of the resulting uncertainty is their fault.
Therefore job losses based on that uncertainty are not their
fault either. Therefore Romney's talking point about job losses
caused by Obamacare are phony. Again, Q.E.D.
Here's why that's nonsense:
One of Obamacare's selling points was cost containment: to decrease
the share of national income spent on health care. (You may not believe
that can be accomplished via massive state subsidies, regulations,
mandates, penalties, taxes, etc. You would be correct. But, still,
that was the argument.)
So, even if Obamacare were implemented flawlessly, and delivered
what its supporters promised, the American
sector would find itself under new spending constraints. That was the
Obviously, one of the first things to be cut back: cosmetic high-end
Specifically, it's child's play to
foresee a declining market in fancy furniture from a Herman Miller
So, whether caused by "uncertainty" or not, the
outlook for Nemschoff Chairs looks less than healthy, thanks
Probably Obama, in his honest private moments, understands this:
any massive government-run shakeup in the private sector is going
to produce winners and losers. Nemschoff Chairs is almost certainly a loser.
Expecting Obama to be honest about this is silly, but when
he pretends to be puzzled instead, that's phoniness.
Now, I'm not sure if the political writers at the WaPo
understand that. But if so, they get a fancy Nemschoff
chair to pull up to the table at this week's