Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick Fact Check...

VP Debate: Those Pesky Facts
By Tommy ChristopherOct 3rd 2008 10:44AM
Filed Under:eBreaking News, Joe Biden, Debates, 2008 President, Sarah Palin
Ah, the morning after. You had a reckless blast last night, doing or saying whatever felt good in that moment. Now, it's time to wake up and face facts. You're not really a movie-producing fireman-cop, and she isn't really on the pill. is the political equivalent of that buzzkill friend who cluelessly salts your game whenever you bring him or her out with you. They have already analyzed last night's Vice Presidential Debate, and although both candidates practiced elasticity of veracity, the winner of the FactCheck Derby was clearly Joe Biden. Just on volume, Biden had fewer miscues, but when you weight them for the seriousness of the error, the contrast is stark.

You can check out their full report, but here's my rundown.

Palin: Falsely claimed that we are now at pre-surge troop levels. Even with scheduled withdrawals through February, 2009, we will still be 6,000 troops north of the pre-surge force size.

Biden: Said McCain voted "the exact same way" as Obama on troop funding. In reality, although McCain opposed a funding bill that included timelines for withdrawal, and urged the eventual veto, he didn't actually show up to vote on it. I'd give Biden only half a point off, since what he said is true in spirit, if not to the letter.

Palin gets a full point off, even though you could argue for more based on the grossness of the error, and its greater political significance.

Palin: Repeated again a false claim that Obama voted to raise taxes on families making only $42,000 a year, one that FactCheck has debunked twice. The lie is willful, since the McCain had already been forced to change their lying estimate once by FactCheck.

Biden: Again, inaccurately claimed that McCain had voted the "exact same way," when he had, again, skipped the vote. In an abundance of fairness, I'll deduct a full point for each, even though Palin's lie is much more egregious, and the defense to Biden's mistake isn't really helpful to McCain.

Palin:-2 Biden:-1.5

Palin: Falsely claimed McCain's health care plan would be "budget neutral." Independent estimates put the plan's cost, including revenue offsets from taxing employer-based plans, at $14-163 billion for just the year 2013.

Palin:-3 Biden:-1.5

Palin: Falsely claimed that Obama's plan calls for healthcare to be "taken over by the feds," and that it would be "government run." This is a popular fallacy by the right, but it isn't true. Obama's plan calls for more choices in publicly funded health care.

Palin:-4 Biden:-1.5

Biden: Said that McCain said he wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain. FactCheck's defense of McCain is that he didn't say he wouldn't, just that he wouldn't commit to doing it. They also said that McCain probably didn't understand the question. This should actually be a point in Biden's favor, but I will generously call it a push.

Palin:-4 Biden:-1.5

Palin: Said "But when you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category." However, independent estimates show that several hundred thousand small businesses, at most, would pay more under Obama's plan.

Palin:-5 Biden:-1.5

Palin: Disagreed with Biden's assertion that the current U.S. commander in Afghanistan said that "surge principles" would not work there. The general did say that, and she got his name wrong. This could easily be two points or more, but I will only knock off one.

Palin:-6 Biden:-1.5

Palin: Said that it is untrue that the U.S. is killing civilians in Afghanistan. According to an analysis by the AP, however, the US is killing more civilians than insurgents are.

Palin: –7 Biden: –1.5

Biden: Said his "clean coal" line was taken out of context. In fact, his statement just didn't make sense, and his record shows clear support for clean coal.

Palin: -7 Biden:- 2.5

Palin: Overstated the case that McCain "sounded the alarm" on Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae. I'd only take a half-point here.

Palin: -7.5 Biden: -2.5

Palin: Misstated oil imports at $700 million, instead of true estimate of $493 million.

Palin: -8.5 Biden:-2.5

Biden: Biden said McCain intends to deregulate health care. Fact Check got this wrong. I'll write a whole post about it later.

Palin: -8.5 Biden: -2.5

Biden: repeated several times the Obama campaign's fair, but technically unclear, assertion that McCain's plan gives $4 billion a year to oil companies. It does, but as part of more massive giveaways to all corporations. This is a push.

Palin: -8.5 Biden: -2.5

Palin: Criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill, saying "that's what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks." The bill did give breaks, but took away others, and the net effect was a tax increase for oil companies.

Palin: -9.5 Biden: -2.5

Biden: Misstated Iraqi surplus as $80 million instead of $79 million. Push, he was rounding up.

Palin: -9.5 Biden: -2.5

Biden: Misstated the number of times McCain voted against alternative energy. It was 11, not 20.

Palin: -9.5 Biden: -3.5

Eventually, there may develop a "FactCheck Effect" that causes candidates to toe the line of accuracy more closely, to avoid these information hangovers. Maybe not, though. Everybody loves to brag about that great night, and nobody ever remembers the morning after.

Tommy Christopher co-hosts "Unusable Signal" , on BlogTalkRadio Tues & Thur at 9pm, and Wed, Fri, & Sat at 11pm. Click here for the Unusable Signal homepage.

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