A lot of people are buzzing about this blog post by Tom Bruschino, assistant professor of history at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Bruschino was contacted by PolitiFact and asked to weigh in on Mitt Romney's claim that "Our navy is smaller than it's been since 1917. Our air force is smaller and older than any time since 1947."
I encourage you to read Bruschino's post in full, as it includes Bruschino's full exchange with PolitiFact. But long story short, eventually PolitiFact rate's Romney's claim as "Pants on Fire." After going thorough the substance of the claim, Bruschino is surprised. "My opinion, for what it is worth, is that since Romney's base statement was factually accurate when it came to most numerical metrics, it would seem that he could be given credit for a half-truth," he writes. In response, PolitiFact dug in with a defensive blog post.
However, it gets worse for PolitiFact. Politico's "Morning Defense" email summarizes the controversy and includes this choice nugget:
EPIC FAIL - It’s PolitiFact that deserves the “Pants on Fire” for incomplete reporting, because Romney was just repeating a point Navy leaders themselves have made numerous times over the past year. Here’s [Secretary of the Department of the Navy] Mabus, speaking last April at the Navy League’s annual meeting: “One of our main areas of focus has to be the size of our fleet. The CNO has repeatedly said, and I repeatedly have strongly supported him, that the minimal number of ships we should have is 313. We have 288 today in the battle fleet: the lowest number since 1916, which – during that time, the intervening years, our responsibilities have grown somewhat. But if Congress funds the shipbuilding program that we have laid out, we will reach a fleet of 325 ships in the early 2020s.”
When it comes to assessing the size of the Navy and its readiness, who are you going to believe—Pulitizer prize-winning PolitiFact or your lyin' Secretary of the Navy?