Post-debate fact check round-up
Edit by Brendan: added table with links to text for easier access to information. This is just my formatting, content and viewpoint is BD's.
|Some Palin errors||Some Biden errors|
|Hezbollah in Lebanon|
|McKiernan's name||McKiernan's position|
|Positions on Iraq||Afghanistan spending|
|Obama's tax plan||McCain's tax plan|
First, factcheck.org compiled the factual shortcomings of both candidates:
● Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
Biden incorrectly said “John McCain voted the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on opposite sides.[Update:] Factcheck.org offered a correction because McCain did vote against a funding bill that had withdrawal timetable strings attached, and Obama voted against a funding bill that didn't have those strings. Here's the full context of what Biden said:
Number two, with regard to Barack Obama not quote funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing. You've got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis.
The "exact same way" phrasing can be interpreted as that Obama voted against a funding bill, but McCain also voted against a funding bill, just of a different color (no racial tinges intended). The "exact same way" language wasn't the clearest way for Biden to express it, but it can be interpreted that he wasn't factually challenged on this one.[End update]
● Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.
● Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income level.
● Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain's plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.
● Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the government of Spain. Actually, McCain didn't reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.
● Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.
But their list is nowhere near complete.
On Lebanon, Biden gaffed on Hezbollah, which is surprising for a fella who's spent so time on the Foreign Relations Committee:
In Thursday night’s vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.] What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one. Nobody – nobody – has ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Not the United States. Not France. Not Israel. And not the Lebanese. Nobody. Joe Biden has literally no idea what he’s talking about. It’s too bad debate moderator Gwen Ifill didn’t catch him and ask a follow up question: When did the United States and France kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon? The answer? Never. And did Biden and Senator Barack Obama really say NATO troops should be sent into Lebanon? When did they say that? Why would they say that? They certainly didn’t say it because NATO needed to prevent Hezbollah from returning–since Hezbollah never went anywhere.
ABC News is so in the bag for Obama. They correctly noted that Palin got General McKiernan's name wrong, but they failed to mention that Biden got McKiernan's position wrong. Which mistake is more pronounced? Biden kept saying that the "commanding general" in Afghanistan stated that the surge strategy wouldn't work there. Biden was wrong, as McKiernan's transcript makes clear, and it demonstrates that (like with Obama) he rejects the Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan. [Update] Even NPR isn't buying it .
General David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan this week said "Afghanistan is not Iraq. .. What I don't think is needed -- the word I don't use in Afghanistan is the word surge."
On the other hand, speaking today, McKiernan said more troops should be rushed to Afghanistan "as quickly as possible." So while he doesn't believe in using the word surge because it resonates of Iraq, he does believe in rushing more troops to Afghanistan -- a surge by another name. [End update]
Biden also made an outrageously false comparison of expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Biden is telling absurd lies about Afghanistan tonight. In particular, he's repeatedly claimed that "we've spent less in Afghanistan in seven years than we spend in a month in Iraq."
He's made that claim, or claims to that effect, repeatedly. It is, to put it bluntly, a complete Goddamned lie .
According to the Congressional Research Service, spending on the war in Afghanistan since 2001 has been $172 Billion. Spending in Iraq is, as the Democrats repeatedly mention, a little under $10 Billion a month.
In other words, Biden's number is off by, oh, something like 2000%. Perhaps Obama's Sub-Committee ought to have held some hearings on Afghanistan after all.
I wouldn't call it a lie, but it's definitely a major factual error. [Update:] CNN has a different take , but it makes Biden's comments no less misleading because he was comparing all of the apples in one barrel with an orange or two in the other. Their verdict was "true", which if you look at it that way, the facts are accurate, but they said nothing about the misleading nature of the comparison. CNN is so in the bag for Obama.[End update]
Politifact weighed in and found two "barely true" comments by Biden and one "barely true" comment from Palin.
Joe Biden flubbed on his understanding of the Constitution and the vice president's role:
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is wrong about the Vice President and the Constitution -- the Vice President does have a legislative role, and the VP doesn't just preside over the Senate in case of a tie. The VP only votes in case of a tie, but voting isn't the same as presiding. Good grief.
Also, Joe, Article I of the Constitution deals with the legislative branch, not the executive. Again, good grief.
And, yes, the VP's legislative duties are in Article I. But that cuts precisely against the point that Biden was trying to make. Here's what Biden said: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. . . . The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous." This is wong on multiple levels at once. Article I -- which deals with the legislative, not the Executive branch, says: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." The Vice President presides over the Senate by right, whenever he/she wants to, regardless of whether there's a tie vote.
What's more, Vice Presidents, until Spiro Agnew, got their offices and budgets from the Senate, not the Executive Branch. The legislative character of that office is traditional -- treating the VP as part of the Executive Branch, and a sort of junior co-President, is a recent and, to my mind, unwise innovation. That's discussed at more length in this article from the Northwestern University Law Review.
Here's one on Biden and elections in the Palestinian Authority:
Here's what the president said when we said no. He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, "Big mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them." What happened? Hamas won.
I'm not sure what Obama said, but Biden was in favor :
If ever there was a time that proved that "good policy makes good politics"--and that politics makes strange bedfellows--today's global program to advance the cause of liberal democracy surely must be it.
What events are creating this critical mass the president is talking about? There's January's free elections in Iraq and Palestine, March's free municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, Egyptian President Mubarak's commitment to allow competitive elections for president, and the Lebanese people's demands for Syrian withdrawal and for free parliamentary elections.
[Update:] Glenn Kessler has more :
Biden claimed that Obama warned against the administration's decision to push for Hamas participating in Palestinian legislative elections in early 2005. Obama had only been a senator for a few days when the election took place, but if he made such statements they did not appear in news reports or transcripts that are contained in the Nexis or Factiva news databases.
Obama was one of 70 members in the Senate who signed a letter a month before the Palestinian election expressing concern that Hamas was participating without disarming. The letter did not say a victory in the election would give Hamas credibility, but urged Bush to insist that Hamas adhere to "a basic set of principles before they can run for political office." Biden did not sign the letter.
On meeting Ahmadinejad without preconditions:
PALIN: Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, the Castro brothers, others who are dangerous dictators are one that Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with without preconditions being met first.
BIDEN: Can I clarify this? This is simply not true about Barack Obama. He did not say sit down with Ahmadinejad.
Biden was speaking an untruth. Here's what Obama said at a debate, and Joe Biden was at that debate:
QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.
Emphases mine. The Corner has more . Biden even said that Obama's comments were "naive".
[Update I:] Biden touted a couple of legislative accomplishments:
And, by the way, a record of change -- I will place my record and Barack's record against John McCain's or anyone else in terms of fundamental accomplishments. Wrote the crime bill, put 100,000 cops on the street, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which John McCain voted against both of them, was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia, led by President Clinton, obviously.
McCain voted against Violence Against Women Act, but Biden failed to mention that the Supreme Court voted against it, too:
In United States v. Morrison, the Court ruled that much of Biden's law was an unconstitutional power grab by Congress of rights reserved to the states.
And Biden is the one who with a law degree. On Bosnia, McCain supported Bill Clinton's efforts on Bosnia and Kosovo. I saw Fred Thompson on Special Report last night, and he said it was McCain who talked Thompson into supporting those efforts. Biden may or may not have been a catalyst, but it's misleading to allude that McCain did not back those operations.
On the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Biden said:
Number two, with regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported.
Another false statement. The Senate vote was mostly party line .
When the roll was finally called on October 13, the resolution to ratify the CTBT (including the six safeguards that Daschle had submitted as an amendment) was defeated by a 51-48 vote with one abstention. (See the voting record .) Forty-four Democrats voted for ratification as did four Republicans: John Chafee (R-RI), James Jeffords (R-VT), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Arlen Specter (R-PA). Fifty Republican senators and one independent (Robert Smith of New Hampshire) voted against ratification, and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) voted "present." The treaty fell 19 votes short of achieving the necessary two-thirds majority necessary for ratification.
From the WA Post Fact Checker , Palin stretched the truth on Biden's agreement with McCain on Iraq.
Sarah Palin just asserted that Sen. Joseph Biden backed John McCain's military policies until this presidential race. That is flatly false. Biden was an outspoken opponent of President Bush's troop increases in Iraq as soon as Bush announced them after the 2006 elections. As Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, he led the most heated hearings before the troops were actually deployed.
Palin also repeated the untruthful claim that Obama voted for 94 tax increases, which is false according to factcheck.org .
On the McCain health care plan, Biden said:
And then you're going to have to replace a $12,000 -- that's the average cost of the plan you get through your employer -- it costs $12,000. You're going to have to pay -- replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped. So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."
According to the WA Post Fact Checker:
Joe Biden mischaracterized McCain's proposal for giving Americans a tax credit to pay for their own health insurance programs in return for taxing the health benefits they receive from employers. He suggested that the average American family would lose around $7,000 on the deal, receiving a $5,000 tax credit in return for having to pay $12,000 for their own health care program. In fact, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center has calculated that most American families would come out slightly ahead for the next decade at least. Higher-income Americans with expensive health care plans would be somewhat worse off after 2018.
Biden was telling half stories on his claim that McCain supported tax breaks for big oil. More from the WA Post Fact Checker:
Sen. Joseph Biden accused John McCain of offering big oil companies $4 billion in tax breaks. That is misleading. The figure comes from the share that the oil companies would get from McCain's corporate income tax cut proposal. He has not proposed a tax break solely for oil companies.
[Update II:] Here's one the fact checkers at CNN got right.
The Statement: During the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2, Democratic nominee Joe Biden described Republican presidential nominee John McCain as a long-time supporter of deregulation of the banking industry and added, "As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry (is) deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry."
Verdict: Misleading. McCain does want to overhaul state oversight of health care, but the deregulation he is calling for is not nearly as extensive as what was done to the banking system.
But count on CNN's fact checkers when it comes counterinsurgency doctrine because they don't understand it .
“Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple,” Biden said in answer to a question about whether he supported equal benefits for same-sex couples. He went on to invoke the Constitution three more times. “The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution.... same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.” And, “It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.” Italics added. Biden cannot actually mean what he says -- because the implications of his statement contradicts his (and Barack Obama’s) asserted position opposing marriage for same-sex couples. (They support civil unions, which Biden forgot to mention.) Alternatively, he may mean what he says -- but simply be unwilling to acknowledge that the consequence of that view is that the constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry. Either way, it’s inconsistent to make the argument that there is a constitutional right to be free of discrimination as a gay or lesbian person and to oppose gay marriage.
[Update IV:] Everyman Joe tells us to go to a restaurant that's been closed for twenty years :
“Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington [and] go to Katie’s Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me.” (CNN’s transcripts says ‘or,’ but Biden clearly says ‘and’ in the video.) While there was a Katie’s in Wilmington, it has been closed for over twenty years (read down through the comments at the link for details). It also was not on Union Street. (Also just mentioned on Hot Air ; Michelle Malkin mentions it, and has a great ‘Joe Depot’ photoshop to boot.)
That one is pretty small beer, but it goes to show that Biden does not discriminate between big whopping gaffes/untruths and the small ones. He's an equal opportunity gaffer!
Conclusion: Now that the fact-checking dust has settled, it's pretty clear that Biden lapped Palin several times over when it came to untruths, falsehoods, gaffes and misleading comments. If people think Biden won the debate, then it's only because he baffled them with more bullsh*t.