Lies . . . And The Pols Who Tell Them

The Obama campaign and its surrogates are trying to attach the liar label to John McCain and Sarah Palin in much the same way the exaggerator label was (wrongly) tied to Al Gore in 2000. But according to PolitiFact, a fact-checking feature of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, the Obama campaign has just as much to answer for. At last check:

Obama’s statements by ruling:

* True: 39
* Mostly True: 24
* Half True: 21
* Barely True: 12
* False: 18

Biden’s statements by ruling:

* True: 7
* Mostly True: 4
* Half True: 5
* Barely True: 4
* False: 4
* Pants on Fire: 2

McCain’s statements by ruling:

* True: 25
* Mostly True: 20
* Half True: 19
* Barely True: 21
* False: 22
* Pants on Fire: 6

Palin’s statements by ruling

* True: 4
* Mostly True 1
* Half True: 3
* Barely True: 0
* False: 0

According to this analysis, Sarah Palin is the most truthful of the bunch!


9 responses to “Lies . . . And The Pols Who Tell Them

  1. Can you please share the methodology or tell us where we can see it? I’m having a hard time believing the Palin numbers.

  2. Methodology:

    Just go to

  3. Thanks Steve,

    I did go to PolitiFact, it’s a very cool site and everyone should see it for themselves. Now that I’ve spent a couple of hours reading through their scorecard, your satire about Palin being the honest one in the race really cracks me up.

    PolitiFact has only been tracking her for what, three weeks now? They’ve been tracking McCain, Obama and Biden for well over a year. At the rate she is going, Palin will close the gap well before the election.

    You know I’m an Obama supporter, so take this for what it’s worth: the “methodology” used (or not) by PolitiFact is a bit dubious. It is highly subjective, and a poor attempt at trying to quantify the lying in this election. While McCain’s total “False” answers are about the same as Obama’s, McCain leads in the dreaded “Pants on Fire” category of False-ness. Obama’s pants are lined with asbestos apparently.

    Also, there were a few Obama “False” statements that seem a bit nit-picky, don’t you think? Like the “false” statement on Exxon’s record profits that wasn’t true in the quarter Obama said it, but was true in previous financial quarters as well as the quarter that began six weeks later. PolitiFact updates the entry to acknowledge his prescience, but refuses to upgrade the “False” score card.

    Also, and this was weird, PolitiFact graded this as False (from Obama’s remarks at Saddleback Church):

    “The fact is that, although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion, over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down.”

    The details section of this entry includes a report from the Centers for Disease Control’s Abortion Surveillance Report. According to the CDC, the abortion ratio of 16 per 1000 women has been the same since 2000. OK, so how was Obama’s statement false?

    Sorry for the long post, but there is a boatload of info on PolitiFact. Thanks for pointing it out. I hope others check it out too, because the St. Pete Times and CQ are doing great public service with this.

    After reading through it today, I’m more convinced than ever that not all lies are equal. Others can make their own judgments on this, but exaggeration while making a point is different from misleading voters. And honest mistakes get made too.

    Your post counts them all the same Steve.

  4. Oh please!

    If you want to talk equivalency, let’s talk about Tony Rezko. End of discussion, and you know it.

    There are a lot of fact-check sites out there. If all you do is read Daily frickin’ Kos or the rest of the leftosphere, all you get is the same kind of slime liberals have long accused conservatives of flinging. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    These are the same fact-check sites both candidates are using in their ads. Do I agree with each of their assessments? Hardly! But the deceits of the Obama campaign are well-documented for anyone who cares to be honest. Here’s another source –

    In particular, here’s their entry on attacks against Sarah Palin:

    I don’t find it any less disgusting than this one:

    I’m against this crap on both sides. I guess that’s the difference – people supporting Obama gave up on their principles long ago and and are now deep into the rationalization of “anything to win”, the prism of ideological blind spots, and the so-close-we-can-taste-it-don’t-take-it-away-from-us thirst for power that they cannot see clearly the utter falsity of their campaign even as they attack the same falsity in other one.

    Obama makes “mistakes,” McCain is a “liar.” Palin is a “liar,” Biden is not um, a “liar and plagiarist.”

    Both campaigns are lying to you, dear readers. I don’t care who you vote for, but admit it. Just frickin’ open your eyes and admit it.

    P.S. You also cherry-picked that stat on abortion.

    David Foster Wallace got it right: The reason why doing political writing is so hard right now is probably also the reason why more young (am I included in the range of this predicate anymore?) fiction writers ought to be doing it. As of 2003, the rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked. 95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. Conservative thinkers are balder about this kind of attitude: Limbaugh, Hannity, that horrific O’Reilly person. Coulter, Kristol, etc. But the Left’s been infected, too. Have you read this new Al Franken book? Parts of it are funny, but it’s totally venomous (like, what possible response can rightist pundits have to Franken’s broadsides but further rage and return-venom?). Or see also e.g. Lapham’s latest Harper’s columns, or most of the stuff in the Nation, or even Rolling Stone. It’s all become like Zinn and Chomsky but without the immense bodies of hard data these older guys use to back up their screeds. There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or “dialogue”); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying.

  5. So it wasn’t satire?

  6. I’m not sure what part you thought was satire. My comment at the end about Sarah Palin was light-hearted, as evidenced by the exclamation point. But the post also makes another point: an independent fact-checking site hasn’t found Palin to have lied at all, while Obama has been found to have made many false claims – just like everyone else.

  7. Steve,

    I think you’re drawing a moral equivalency that all lies are created equal. I agree with Peter. There’s a huge chasm between saying sarah palin was against earmarks despite the fact that she hired lobbyists to secure earmarks (a McCain lie) and the kind of exaggeration or selective lie of the Obama campaign (the Exxon one being a good example).

    They simply are not on the same moral plain. In my experience, Republicans are far more comfortable with naked lies whereas Democrats tend to like to parse things to make their statements true.

    Given that even Karl Rove, a mouthpiece for the right if ever there was one, said the McCain camp were being less than 100% truthful, I’m comfortable that they’re (Republicans) bigger liars than we (Democrats) are.

  8. Not at all. For example, I would never equate Bill Clinton’s non-material evasiveness about Monica Lewinsky in a civil lawsuit serving as a perjury trap as the equivalent to George W. Bush’s reckless handling of the facts in the run-up to the Iraq War.

    Similarly, I wouldn’t equate so-called Troopergate with Obama’s lies about Tony Rezko . . . nor Palin’s record on earmarks vs. Obama’s.

  9. Pingback: Liars « Division Street

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