After staring in some amazement at PolitiFact’s ostensibly unbiased rulings on the truthfulness of various statements made during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, I finally realized what the problem is: PolitiFact’s self-described Truth-O-Meter is clearly broken. Thankfully, however, it’s broken in a way that’s both predictable and fixable. You see, if you simply turn the Truth-O-Meter two notches to the right for any claim made by a Republican, and two notches to the left for any claim made by a Democrat, its reading actually becomes surprisingly accurate.
“Can we stay on Medicare?” Mitt Romney asked debate moderator Jim Lehrer after several minutes of back and forth on the issue between himself and President Barack Obama. It was a characteristic moment in Romney’s strong performance in Denver, when the former governor of Massachusetts sensed an advantage on a topic and kept pushing. It was also an indication of how these days, Republicans talking about Medicare are playing on their home turf.
Yesterday, when speaking via video to the AARP, President Obama said, “But what I’m not going to do, as a matter of principle, is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security and suddenly turn it over to Wall Street.”
Yet last year, during the budget ceiling debate, President Obama said he'd be up for cutting Social Security.
Addressing the audience at an AARP convention today, Paul Ryan declared, "The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare." He explained to those in attendance how Obamacare would turn "Medicare into a piggy bank," while also putting "15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare’s future." Ryan added, "The president doesn’t talk much about what Obamacare will really mean for seniors." Why? "People don’t like it."
In his speech Wednesday night, Bill Clinton said, "President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No president—not me or any of my predecessors—could have repaired all the damage in just four years."
At the official kickoff of his reelection campaign, President Obama offered a tacit (although unintended) admission of four years of failure, declaring, "We have to move forward, to the future we imagined in 2008. ... That’s why I’m running for a second term as president of the United States." This peculiar yet revealing emphasis on the future, the past, and the imaginary neglects only two things: the present and reality. Lacking laudable achievements to tout in the present, Obama wants voters to focus on the future they imagined in the past.
Shortly after Paul Ryan’s speech ended last night, the left wing blogosphere and commentariat launched an attack on the vice presidential nominee for his supposed mendacity. They attacked from many angles, but the most substantial assault was on Medicare.
Perhaps if we all ignore PolitiFact, they'll go away. But for the time being, the supposedly independent organization continues to crank out skewed and partisan work. There's no better example of this than the the current jihad the "fact checking" organization is waging against the Romney-Ryan health care plan.
The Villages, Fla. “This is my mom Betty,” vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said as he took the stage at a campaign rally with his 78-year-old mother in Florida’s largest retirement community. “She's why I'm here,” Ryan continued. “She and her grandkids are why I'm here.”
Lanhee Chen, the Romney campaign's policy director, is circulating this memo (below). The memo seems similar to what Yuval Levin and Jeffrey H. Anderson have written about Medicare, Obamacare, and the 2012 election.
The end of Medicare and Medicaid as we know them—through reform, the Ryan way, or -bankruptcy, the Obama way. The direction of the country—via the Romney-Ryan right track, or the Obama-Biden wrong track. Those are the choices, made stark by the addition of Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket.
“Old age puts more wrinkles in our minds than on our faces; and we never, or rarely see a soul that in growing old does not come to smell sour and musty. Man grows and dwindles in his entirety.”—Montaigne
Before the sun had set on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the Obama campaign was out with ads talking of the “End Medicare as we know it.”