Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fact-checking the First Lady

Michelle Obama took the stage last night at the Democratic National Convention to deliver a rousing speech--as expected--and has been rewarded today with gushing commentary--as expected--from mainstream media pundits. No doubt, it was a nice speech. She recounted hers and Barack's upbringing and their life together with their children. Michelle gushed over her husband and his many admirable qualities, as she saw them.

But what did she really say in it, apart from the story-telling and the platitudes? Any specifics in there to speak of? Well, a couple. Let's start with the current state of the nation, with regard to the economy and the plight of the middle class:
That's how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again — jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.
I'm certain frequent readers of this blog know right were I am going with this. First, there's the bogus "job growth" meme to talk about. Then, there's the idea that all of these created jobs are ones "you can raise a family on." That doesn't seem like a defensible position to take at all, given that median household income has dropped by some $4000 during the President's first term. Interestingly enough, such a loss in income could conceivably prevent the average family from accessing contraceptives for all of the President's term (given a cost of $1000 per year for contraceptives). But I digress. The point is, median income is declining, not rising. Thus, unless one wants to posit that all of the lost income has been borne by the wealthy (which flies in the face of the actual evidence), one must accept that the middle and lower classes are eating this loss, by and large.

Now couple that lost income with rising consumer prices--not to mention the destruction of long-term savings--and what do we get? Even if it was allowed that the Obama Administration had created boatloads of new jobs, there's no way any reasonable person might suppose all of these new jobs entailed vastly higher salaries, apart from those in the Federal Government. So we'll have to call "no joy" on this portion of the speech. It's just not true, in the least.

Next, we have the American Dream and what that concept actually means to the President and those who champion him. Michelle Obama says the following:
Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it . and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.
A highly laudable sentiment, to be sure. But is it true? Because on its face, the above is an argument for "equality of opportunity," not "equality of outcome." And frankly, given the specifics Ms. Obama relates on her own background and the President's, it's pretty clear they both had the opportunity they needed, otherwise how could they be the current President and First Lady, given such humble beginnings? Moreover, growing entitlement spending and other Federal handouts doesn't create opportunity, at all. It creates dependence. Obama's actual policies are creating a larger and permanent underclass of unemployed people, there's no way around this. The record lows in the labor participation rate coupled with the steady drop in income and a consistently high unemployment rate make this abundantly clear. Thus, we'll have to call "no joy" once again on this statement by the First Lady. Another falsehood.

I could go on. And on. And on. But I'm guessing that at some point readers might say "hey, you're not really checking facts, just offering a competing narrative that's a product of your own ideology." Well, yeah. That's what a fact-checker actually does, after all.

Cheers, all.

4 comments:

  1. http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/02/credulous-fact-checkers-fall-for-20-scam/
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/pants-on-fire-politics

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  2. Two more
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/fact-checking-a-clarification/261945/

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/fact-checking-a-clarification/261945/

    He makes very good points at the end.
    I also had a good chuckle about this whole issue when I read AW. I mean, when Kessler (a fairly liberal guy himself) weighed on the SEC filings issue and said the Obama campaign was full of crapsome people responded "that he must live in alternative universe". When he and the other "fact check" said that Reid's accusations with regards to Romney's taxes were bull, it was simply ignored. Now, when Ryan made some self serving statements in a speech (even if some of them were technically correct like the thing with the GM plant), people are suddenly up in arms.

    I won't even go into DNC chair openly lying about what Israeli ambassador said, being called out, denying she said anything and confronted with her own recording being completely ignored. And the "civility police" for some reason is silent about three different major DNC people comparing GOP to Nazis in three days. Things are bad. In Israel, the tenor of the political discource was alwasy more loud and polarizing, but I think US is headed to a worse situation. It's a shame.

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  3. Thanks for the links, Dm. And yeah, Wasserman-Schultz is an absolute train wreck. She's actually catching some heat in her district; someone may reign her in pretty soon, I think.

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  4. I saw a while ago an interview with her on CNN where she was completely hammered for misrepresenting an LA Times (I think) article in a fundraising letter. She tried to divert and say "this is not important", but when a usually friendly journo goes after you, this means things are really bad. In that interview she tried to say that Romney's stated positions don't matter and you can't separate him from a party platform. I wonder what is she going to say if asked about the recent DNC kerfuffle. She already tried to say Obama hadn't seen it in advance, but that's just weak (even the fact checkers agree :-) )

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