Saturday, September 8, 2012

Civility Watchdog: Vice President Joe Biden's Address to Democratic National Convention

On September 6, 2012, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the Democratic National Convention. Below are some of the highlights concerning civil, productive debate:
"Let me tell you about how Barack saved more than 1 million American jobs. In our first days in office, General Motors and Chrysler were on the verge of liquidation. If the President didn’t act immediately, there wouldn’t be an industry left to save."
Comment: This is at least an exaggeration, if not a distortion. It's far from clear that the U.S. auto industry would have disappeared if GM and Chrysler hadn't been bailed out: (1) Companies that go through bankruptcy don't necessarily go out of business, so GM and Chrysler might still have survived without a bailout; (2) Even if GM and Chrysler had gone out of business, there would still be Ford; (3) Besides Ford, there are many other car companies that have factories in the U.S., such as Toyota, Subaru, and Honda. These companies employ auto workers in the U.S., even if they aren't U.S. companies (much like Chrysler, which isn't a U.S. company anymore, either; post-bailout, it is now owned by Italy's Fiat).

"We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors say -- we shouldn’t step in, the risks were too high, the outcome too uncertain. The President patiently listened. But he didn’t see it their way. He understood something they didn’t. He understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the Americans who built those cars and the America they built."
Comment: It's a derisive distortion to say that people (for instance, GOP candidate Mitt Romney) who opposed the auto bailouts somehow didn't understand that this was an issue that affected real people and not just cars. Of course they understood that, but they disagreed about whether bailing out GM and Chrysler was the best course of action regarding a whole host of people.

"Let’s just say it straight: The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years have fundamentally different visions, and a completely different value set."
Comment: Is this true? Obama and Romney have nothing in common when it comes to values? This isn't just an exaggeration?

"Governor Romney believes that kids-the kids we call DREAMers -- those immigrant children who were brought to America at a very young age, through no fault of their own -- he thinks they’re a drag on America."
Comment: This is another derisive distortion. There are reasons to oppose the DREAM Act that don't depend on viewing immigrants who were brought here illegally as children as "a drag on America". For instance, someone might agree with the proposal that military service should be sufficient to give DREAM Act children legal residence, but not with the proposal that going to college should render the same result.

"I told you the choice is stark. Two different visions. Two different value sets. And at its core, the difference is, we have incredible faith in the decency, and the hard work of the American people. And we know what has made this country great -- its people. … I’ve got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan, it has never, never, ever, been a good bet to bet against the American people."
Comment: Republicans don't have faith in the decency and the hard work of the American people? That's just another derisive distortion. And, just because Romney and Ryan support different policies than Obama and Biden doesn't mean that they're somehow betting against the American people.

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