Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Left's post-modern approach to truth

David Harsanyi takes apart the so-called factcheckers who have taken it upon themselves to declare Republican attacks on Obama lies. We are now seeing a new definition of "lie" as "a truth that Democrats don't like." Contrary to what the media have declared,
The following assertions, for instance, are true:

Obama did cut over $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare.
The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism.
The Janesville, General Motors plant was closed down under Obama (though Ryan made a more nuanced assertion that we’ll cover below)
Obama did blow off the bipartisan debt commission.
Obama’s waivers do allow for the relaxing of work requirements in welfare reform.
If you have been reading AP or watchinhg MSNBC, you'd think that these are all lies. But you would be wrong. Factcheckers are even rushing to defend Obama from Republican attacks on his "You didn't build that" speech. But what they are objecting to is the Republican interpretation of his speech, not any actual facts. They might object to the how the Republicans interpret the full context, but, even as Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post wrote, it is a "bit of a judgment call." And judgment calls are not facts even though Kessler then goes on to give the Republicans Two Pinocchios for something that he himself agrees is a judgment call. As Ben Smith writes,
The convention's fixation on Obama's "you didn't build that" line, meanwhile, may have caricatured the president, a bit — but far less than Obama has flatly claimed. Obama invoked the phrase in his own battle with an Ayn Randian straw man — "people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart"— and he was making the case for a robust and respected government role in the private sector, a core of the electoral argument. To say he was taken out of context was to say his words were meant to be trivial and meaningless — that he was merely saying that his audience had not in fact constructed the road outside with their hands, an absurd interpretation.

John Hayward takes apart the media's immediate rush to judgment that Ryan was lying when he said that Obama had come to Wisconsin and claimed that, if he were elected president, that GM plant in Janesville, the plant would be open for another 100 years. As Ryan then went on to say, "the plant didn't last another year." Democrats and the meda hurried to repeat the Obama talking point that this was a lie. But that is exactly what Obama did say in his February 2008 about the Janesville plant.
“I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday, and I know how hard your Governor has fought to keep jobs in this plant. But I also know how much progress you’ve made – how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you’re churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that’s the future I’ll fight for as your President.”
So Obama said exactly what Ryan said he said.
Hilariously, PolitiFact tries to claim Ryan’s comments about the Janesville plant were “false” because Obama only said he “believed” the plant could be kept open by a government run in line with his philosophy… and even though PolitiFact admits that most people attending the speech took this as a promise by Obama, one writer at the Detroit News interpreted it to mean Obama was merely saying he thought the plant should be “viable,” so that’s “not quite the same thing as pledging to keep the Janesville plant open.”

In other words, you have to judge Obama’s speech with the very same benefit of the doubt you refuse to allow Paul Ryan, in order to conclude that Ryan’s not telling the truth. Every single one of Paul Ryan’s words matter; none of Obama’s do. That sounds like a good reason to vote for Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.

What remains is the inference between Ryan’s factually accurate statements. He did not claim, or imply, that Obama actively shut down the plant. He’s faulting Obama for promising to keep it open, and then failing to deliver on that promise. Could Obama have made good on that promise, and kept the Janesville plant open?
The whole point of Ryan's speech was that Obama made grandiose promises in his 2008 campaign that he couldn't possibly keep. Obama doesn't even realize that it isn't the job of the president to decide which plants should remain open and which closed.
Ryan did not actually criticize Obama for failing to keep the Janesville plant open. He criticized Obama for promising to keep the plant open. This criticism remains valid even if there was no possible way any President could have kept the plant running. Obama is the one who should have done the research and determined if his promise was realistic, before he made it – and that’s the entire point of this passage in Ryan’s speech, buttressed by the rest of his remarks on Wednesday night. To a large extent, the furious liberal “fact checkers” are complaining about something Ryan didn’t say.
The media defenders of the President don't even understand that there is something bizarre about a presidential candidate making such promises and the arrogance of thinking that a president has such power.

The factcheckers missed the point that Ryan was making. They didn't know the facts of what Obama promised or the timeline of the closing the plant. They imagined that Ryan was saying the sort of thing they say all the time about Bain Capital when they blame Romney for the jobs lost when some businesses that Bain had invested in later failed. The Obama campaign inundated them with emails and tweets during Ryan's speech and the media bought it and now they have to try to twist what Ryan said to defend the supposed reporting they did.

If you want to have a laugh on these self-important factcheckers, read Ned Rice's hilarious send-up of how they would have covered Clint Eastwood's speech.
“I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, 'what’s a movie tradesman doing out here?'”

Mr. Eastwood did not, in fact, know what we were all thinking.

“So I -- so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here.”

Numerous reviews of the videotape have confirmed that President Obama was not, in fact, sitting in the chair during Mr. Eastwood’s remarks.

“I was even crying. And then finally -- and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country."

The number of unemployed Americans did not reach 23 million until after President Obama’s inauguration so Eastwood’s statement makes no sense chronologically.

“But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?” (LAUGHTER)

Eastwood was suggesting that someone in the chair had just told him to shut up when, as has been noted, there was clearly no one in the chair.

“OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.”

The idea that giving Khalid Sheik Muhammed a public forum with which to advance his violent agenda as “stupid” is Mr. Eastwood’s opinion, not a fact.
Read the rest. It's close enough to the true factcheckers to be hilarious.