Last week, the media and various Democrats cried foul over Paul Ryan’s speech. In particular, they focused on five “lies” that he told and went into their usual post-truth case of the vapors. We went back and forth in the comments, but it’s worth putting the case against and the case for. To be blunt, some of these are disagreements over interpretation, not disagreements over fact. For examples, the fact-checkers call Ryan out for blaming only Obama for the debt downgrade by … blaming only Republicans for it (Moody’s blamed everyone).
You can call these lies if you want. I call it standard-grade political bullshit. I expect more from Ryan because I respect him. But that sort of truth-shading can be found anywhere. To pick one example almost at random, why don’t we try the President:
Time’s flattering cover profile of the president, headlined “What Obama Knows Now,” is filled with questionable assertions ceding whole chunks of factual policy narrative to Democrats, such as that “virtually all economists” agreed that the stimulus was necessary (tell that to these 200 economists, including a handful of Nobel laureates).
But Tim Carney really gets into this:
Obama’s pattern is this: Make a promise; break the promise; insist that you’ve kept the promise, and hope the press gives you a free pass. When called out, resort to absurd word parsing. This is how Obama campaigns, and it is how he governs.
Candidate Obama said lobbyists wouldn’t work in his administration or fund his campaign. But about 60 registered lobbyists landed senior jobs in his administration, including a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as Treasury Department chief of staff.
Still, in his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama said, “we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.” When I pressed the White House on this, it defended the claim, writing: “As the President said we have turned away lobbyists for many, many positions.”
This sleight of hand is not a one-off. Obama does it over and over.
Obama has also made claims — basically unchallenged — that Libya wasn’t really a war, that he hasn’t raised taxes on the middle class and that Obamacare cuts the budget deficit (it does, technically, but only over the span considered by the CBO and only if the SGR cuts are included). And that’s not to mention his outright lies on the War on Drugs, lies backed up by his lackies at the Center for American Regress. When these statements are addressed by the fact checkers, they do not apply the same rigorous standard they applied to Ryan. Instead, they delve into the subtleties about how what had he said was technically true … for a politician.
Look, I think we should call politicians out when they lie by omission or commission. I wasn’t happy with some of the things Ryan said. All I ask is that the standard be applied to everyone: Republican, Democrat, liberal conservative or fascist-anarchist.
As I watch what DNC coverage I have time for, I’ll be keeping an eye on the fact-checkers and see if they apply the same standard to Obama/Biden that they did to Ryan. I suspect their coverage will be highly superficial. Mine won’t be.