The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Perpetuating the Lie that Romney is a Liar

with 4 comments

My liberal friends like to remind me often that my candidate for President, Mitt Romney, is a liar.  They then parade the fact checkers out as proof to their premise that Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, habitually breaks the 9th commandment.

The most recent accusation came in the form of this article at ThinkProgress.org with the headline: “At The Last Presidential Debate: Romney Told 24 Myths In 41 Minutes”  If you’re not familiar with ThinkProgress, I would characterize ThinkProgress.org as the Liberal equivalent to Ricochet.com on the right.  If you’re not familiar with either one you’re not missing anything but extreme partisanship, hyperbole, and group think (My opinion of course).

So I decided to go through these 24 myths and research their explanations to see if  the man I think is best suited to preside in this nation is indeed a dirty rotten scoundrel and a liar.

This will be a rather long post as I am including each “Myth” and the explanation given by ThinkProgress with my retort underneath in bold italics.  Bear with me as I hope this exercise will show that the true “Myth” is in our perception of another’s words as seen through our own world view.  This is not to say that President Obama and Mitt Romney have been 100% accurate in the debates or on the campaign trail when addressing each other or the issues, but it is to say that both men are explaining their positions in the best light possible and their opponents in the worst.  That’s politics and by its nature that is going to include elaborations, hyperbole, and yes  inaccurate depictions from each.

I think overall the fact checkers bring it all back to reality, but that doesn’t mean you should never check the fact checkers too!

The 24 “Myths” as presented by ThinkProgress.org

1) “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.” Romney has his geography wrong. Syria doesn’t share a border with Iran and Iran has 1,500 miles of coastline leading to the Arabian Sea. It is also able to reach the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Geography gaffe, not a lie.

2) “And what I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so [in Syria], first the president saying, well we’ll let the U.N. deal with it…. Then it went to the Russians and said, let’s see if you can do something.” While Russia and China have vetoed multiple resolutions at the U.N. Security Council on Syria, the United States has also been working through the Friends of Syria group and other allies in the region. Obama’s approach “would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.”

I see a very sharp difference of opinion here but nothing to indicate a whopper being told. TP does not refute Romney’s initial premise, rather they try to clarify Obama’s position.

3) “Former chief of the — Joint Chiefs of Staff said that — Admiral Mullen said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This — we have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy. We need to have as well a strong military.” If Romney is worried about the national debt, why does he want to increase military spending from 3.5 percent of GDP to 4 percent? This amounts to a $2.1 trillion increase over a ten-year period that the military says it does not need and Romney has no plan to pay for it.

Again sharp difference of opinion nothing more.

4) “[W]hen — when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred, for the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake.” Obama spoke out about the Revolution on June 15, 2009, just two days after post-election demonstrations began in Iran, condemning the Iranian government’s hard-handed crackdown on Iranian activists. He then reiterated his comments a day later in another press conference. Iranian activists have agreed with Obama’s approach.

Obama made two statements, a few brief words, and did nothing more, in Romney’s opinion and that of many others in this country, it could be seen as relative silence on the issue. I disagree here with Romney’s interpretation because Obama did acknowledge the situation if barely, but this doesn’t meet the definition of a lie.

5) “And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Romney’s claim that he will create 12 million jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.

Here’s the problem with this one. We’re talking about projections and estimates. One side says they believe their projections and estimates to be accurate and the other side says they don’t. As I’ve read the pros and cons on Romney’s plan it has become very apparent that both sides rely heavily on semantics and varied interpretations of the studies attributed. Frankly this is a Nancy Pelosi moment. “We won’t know what Romney’s jobs plan will do until we implement it”.  No lie just a lot of guesswork and pontificating.

6) “[W]e are going to have North American energy independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and our renewables.” Romney would actually eliminate the fuel efficiency standards that are moving the United States towards energy independence, even though his campaign plan relies on these rules to meet his goals.

An argument about different environmental opinions on standards and not explained very well here.  Not a lie though.

7) “[W]e’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers.” Paul Ryan’s budget, which Romney has fully endorsed, calls for spending 33 percent less on “Education, training, employment, and social services” than Obama’s budget.

So spending less means no training or education possible?  More money doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality. #7 is a joke and Think Progress is showing its stripes here. 

8) “And I’ll get us on track to a balanced budget.” Romney’s $5 trillion tax cut plan and his increases to military spending could explode the deficit.

Same Princeton economist and others EconomistsForRomney.com refute this opinion. again no lie here folks.

9) “Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education principles that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.” Education experts have faint praise for his proposals while he was governor. “His impact was inconsequential,” said Glen Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. “People viewed his proposals as political talking points, and no one took Romney seriously.”

Think Progress doesn’t like his proposals on education. Imagine that! Now a quote Think Progress surely could have found to balance it’s report “Governor Romney’s education reform plan addresses the single biggest challenge for our state’s economy, which is supplying the pipeline of skilled workers that technology employers need for sustained future growth,” said Massachusetts High Technology Council President Christopher R. Anderson. “The Governor’s plan rightly focuses on attracting and retaining the best math and science teachers, while giving them the support and tools they need to prepare students for the competitive global economy.”  No lie here but some serious bias on the part of TP in my opinion.

10) “So I’d get rid of [Obamacare] from day one. To the extent humanly possible, we get that out.” Romney cannot unilaterally eliminate a bill passed by Congress and his plan to grant states waivers may also be a non-starter.

Correct.  As Romney stated, he’ll get rid of Obamacare “to the extent humanly possible” TP confirms that.  Where’s the whopper?

11) “Number two, we take some programs that we are doing to keep, like Medicaid, which is a program for the poor.” Medicaid isn’t just a program for the poor. While it provides health coverage for “millions of low-income children and families who lack access to the private health insurance system,” it also offers “insurance to millions of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities” and is “the nation’s largest source of coverage for long-term care, covering more than two-thirds of all nursing home residents.” Medicaid is also a key source of coverage for pregnant women.

Semantics. Medicaid is more than just a program for the poor, OK…but not going into more detail certainly isn’t a lie. 

12) “[W]e’ll take [Medicaid] for the poor and we give it to the states to run because states run these programs more efficiently.” A Congressional Budget Office analysis of Paul Ryan’s proposal to block grant Medicaid found that if federal spending for Medicaid decreased, “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” As a result, enrollees could “face more limited access to care,” higher out-of-pocket costs, and “providers could face more uncompensated care as beneficiaries lost coverage for certain benefits or lost coverage altogether.”

Very tricky handling of this by TP. Romney says give it to the states to run, but doesn’t say cut federal funding. TP turns to “what ifs” by pointing to Ryan’s budget proposal, which is just that, a proposal. Muddy analysis by TP, but yes you could accuse me of splitting hairs. Still no lie being told here.

13) “Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…That, in my view, is making — is making our future less certain and less secure.” The U.S. Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, but it is not making America less secure. The navy has actually grown in the sheer number of ships under Obama and Romney’s plans to increase shipbuilding is unrealistic. As one historian told PolitiFact, counting the number of ships or aircraft “is not a good measurement of defense strength because their capabilities have increased dramatically in recent decades.” Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’” he said.

According to NPR, analysts are divided on whether there is a need for a larger Navy.  However, in the same Politifact report used to glean the historian’s quote it says “In recent years, the number of active ships has fallen low enough to approach its 1916 level.  In both 2009 (the most recent year of the Heritage report) and 2011, the number was 285.  So Romney has a point. However, even using this metric — which, as we’ll argue later, is an imperfect one for measuring military strength.” So they’re arguing a perspective of “perfection”?  Really?   A lie?  No.

14) “And then the president began what I have called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”

I concede. It is clear the President never used the words “sorry” or “apologize”  and did give praise to America while at the same time knocking America for sins perceived by Obama. It’s obvious Romney and others interpreted this as being apologetic to gain favor of other nations and therefore labeled it an Apology Tour. I think he should have changed the title and focused on what I see as a weakness in Obama and the First Lady.  That being their apparent lack of belief and conviction in US exceptionalism in the world.

15) “And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they noticed that as well.” They haven’t noticed because it’s not true. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN, “President Obama is doing . . . more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].” “When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issues, security, I think it’s a highly satisfactory record, from an Israeli point of view,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres.

TP quotes two Israeli Liberals, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres to bolster their premise and the Obama narrative that Obama is doing so much more for Israel than ever before. This one made me laugh out loud honestly. If you’re up on recent headlines you probably chuckled too. Read up on Barak and Peres and see where their political ideologies lie and you’ll see why TP didn’t want to mention Israel’s Prime Minister or conservative Jews at all. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro recently engaged in a sharp, un-diplomatic exchange in September over Netanyahu’s frustration with the Obama Administration’s Iran policy, according to US congressman, Mike Rogers of Michigan who attended the meeting.  It is very clear Israels highest officer is not happy with Obama’s policies concerning Israel.  Of course liberals are going to say what liberals want to hear.  Think Progress not being very balanced or objective here and ignoring the other side completely.

16) “And — and — we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they — they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer.” Obama hasn’t wasted time on Iran. In July 2012, Obama signed into law the most effective sanctions ever put into place against Iran, targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors. These sanctions were imposed unilaterally by the U.S. and come in addition to the four rounds of sanctions the UN has enacted since 2006. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the sanctions “very effective,” and Romney has said he would continue them if elected.

The fact is Iran is moving forward with its nuclear plans regardless of what you believe those plans to be.  I give the President credit for what he has done with sanctions.  This seems to be nothing more than bickering about whether Obama wasted time or not. Silly.

17) “I would tighten those sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil, can’t come into our ports. I imagine the E.U. would agree with us as well.” Almost no Iranian oil has come into the United States since Ronald Reagan signed an executive order in 1987 banning all U.S. imports from Iran. The nation received a small amount of oil from Iran after the first Gulf War, in 1991.

TP is right on this one. Wondering where Romney got his info here.  Can’t find an explanation at this point.  Still, he is offering his opinion, right or wrong.  Not a lie.

18) “I see jihadists continuing to spread, whether they’re rising or just about the same level, hard to precisely measure, but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very strong.” Obama’s policies appear to have gravely weakened al Qaeda Central, the lead arm of the organization in Pakistan and Afghanistan principally responsible for 9/11.

Obama himself has fallen back on the rhetoric that Al-Qaeda is no longer a threat and is subsiding. We know that isn’t true. All TP dare say is Obama’s policies “appear” to have weakened Al-Qaeda. Much different from the language being used only weeks ago.  Analyst Seth Jones is leading the argument that al-Qaeda is doing better than we realize, that “the obituaries are premature”

19) “It’s not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people.” The Romney campaign routinely touts government military spending as a way to create jobs and boost businesses.

Governments administer. It is with rare exception that government creates anything or even manages anything well. When government tries to do what the private sector does it generally does it less efficiently and more costly and there is plenty of proof to back that up. Romney is right on that one.  If you live around a military base you’ll see the effect of military spending on business and business creation in the private sector. This is just another item where TP sees the world through a different lens. No lies here.

20) “My plan to get the [auto] industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these [auto] companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy.” Romney’s plan for the auto bailout would have ensured the collapse of the auto industry. In his editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Romney advocated for letting the private sector finance the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Auto insiders, however, have said that plan was “reckless” and “pure fantasy.”

TP is the liar here. They mention Romney’s Op-Ed but fail to reveal the truth of it, just as Obama ignored and refuted Romney in the debate. The facts as presented by ABC News. Romney DID in that original Op-Ed, at the very end, say that there should be post-bankruptcy guarantees for financing. “The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk,” he wrote. It is not clear if such post-bankruptcy guarantees could have freed up pre-bankruptcy financing. And it is not something Romney has advertised on the campaign trail. But it is accurate. By the way GM builds more automobiles OUTSIDE the US than in it and its CEO was in China just last year touting his plan to bring more work to China. Listen in to GM’s CEO Dan Akerson addressing reporters in Shang Hai China: 

21) “Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks is great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.” Ryan’s plan, which Romney has endorsed, “could cut spending on non-defence-related research and development by 5%, or $3.2 billion, below the fiscal-year 2012 budget, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the long-term, Ryan’s small-government approach would shrink funding for research and development to historically small sizes.”

Cutting spending doesn’t eliminate research or the need for it.  That’s just a dumb argument.

22) “One is a path represented by the president, which at the end of four years would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt heading towards Greece.” The U.S. is not headed down a path like that of Greece. Greece, contrary to popular belief, had a revenue problem rather than a spending problem. While its spending was high compared to US standards — 50.4 percent of GDP compared to 38 percent of GDP in the US — its spending was average among European nations. As CAP’s Michael Linden and Sabina Dewan note, “Over the past 10 years, Greece has consistently spent less, as a share of GDP, than the European Union as a whole.” However, it generated less that 40 percent of GDP from revenue — one of the lowest rates in the EU.

All TP does here, is attempt to explain away Greece’s problems so they don’t look anything like ours.  Romney is not the first to use this analogy. Yes we can go the way of Greece.

23) “I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle.” Given Romney’s 844 vetoes as governor, Massachusetts legislators dispute this claim. As the New York Times has noted, “The big-ticket items that Mr. Romney proposed when he entered office in January 2003 went largely unrealized, and some that were achieved turned out to have a comparatively minor impact.”

Important distinction TP refuses to acknowledge, the line-item veto. Yes Romney issued some 800 vetoes, and yes, the Legislature overrode nearly all of them, sometimes unanimously. But it’s ridiculous to say Romney did not get things done as governor working with that overwhelming majority of Democrats.  Romney got praise and criticism from both parties in Massachusetts which I believe shows he was bipartisan.  Even Ted Kennedy praised him.  In 2006, Kennedy had only praise for Romney: “To our governor, and to our Senate president and our speaker, we all say, ‘Well done.’  TP’s perception is the myth here.

24) “We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment, and that of our friends, we should coordinate it to make sure that we — we push back and give them more economic development.” Romney’s website promises to “Reduce Foreign Aid — Savings: $100 Million.” “Stop borrowing money from countries that oppose America’s interests in order to give it back to them in the form of foreign aid,” it says. In November of 2011, Romney said he would start foreign aid for every country “at zero” and call on them to make their case for U.S. financial assistance.

TP seems to be contradicting its own premise here. Romney is saying he wants to reduce and redirect foreign aid and TP says Romney wants to reduce and redirect foreign aid… maybe you can figure out what point they’re trying to make here.  Bottom line, no lies.

What we have here are 24 points where liberals simply differ in ideology and perspective from conservatives and where a conservative articulated his ideas and opinions including those inevitable mistakes and inaccuracies due to being a human and not a computer.  That doesn’t stop Think Progress from using a misleading headline leaving the lazy reader who doesn’t go through all 24 points to assume Romney is the guy my Facebook friend Tom calls “disgraceful” and a “habitual liar”. I think Tom spends a little too much time at ThinkProgress.org.  Time to round out your daily reading my friends.

I fear too many “fact checkers” are what has been termed Vigilante Fact Checkers.  Atossa Araxia Abrahamian wrote, “The vigilantes work with a very different goal. They’re guerrillas; they live to pounce, to catch their enemies at their most vulnerable moments, and to parade their heads around on a stick, declaring smugly: untruth!”

Read more of Abrahmian’s article 

When a lie is exposed and proven to be an intentional attempt to mislead by any political figure I am all for making it clear and shouting it to the rooftops.  I just happen to believe most of the statements being touted as lies these days are no such thing and we need to hold to the definition of the word, taken in the proper context, and not rely solely on our perception of it.

Lie – Show IPA noun, verb, lied, ly·ing. noun
1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

If you know the intent of another’s heart, you have a sense the rest of us don’t possess.

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Written by DCL

October 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on yasniger and commented:
    The other side plays dirty too.

    Like

    yasniger

    October 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    • Yes. Dirty politics is not exclusive to either side of the aisle, but I would argue it seems to be more acute on the left these days. Just my personal observation as I peruse media of all types.

      Like

      DCL

      October 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  2. “Fact checking” is the new “spin doctoring”.

    Like

    MishaBurnett

    October 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm


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