"A gunman whose name we do not need to memorialize took advantage of our gun control laws to slaughter some 20 children and seven adults in a Newton, Connecticut elementary school. In addition to the gunman, blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut (and most other states). They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman. What a lethal, false security are the Gun Free Zone laws. All of our mass murders in the last 20 years have occurred in Gun Free Zones. The two people murdered a couple of days earlier in the shopping center in Oregon were also in a Gun Free Zone. Hopefully the Connecticut tragedy will be the tipping point after which a rising chorus of Americans will demand elimination of the Gun Free Zone laws that are in fact Criminal Safe Zones."-- Executive Director of Gun Owners of America Larry Pratt, December 15, 2012, referring to the December 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Comment: Is this politicizing or exploiting the situation? Or even rooting for failure? I don't think so. It's reasonable to respond to a mass shooting by discussing what policies could help prevent such tragedies (which is not to say that Pratt's ideas about what accomplish that goal are correct). It could, however, be argued that Pratt's discussion of gun policy was "too soon". Also, is it really the case that gun control advocates are complicit in murder? Isn't that demonizing, or at least exaggeration?
"The assault weapons ban enacted under President Clinton was deficient and has expired. Mr. Obama talked about the need for “common sense” gun control after the movie theater slaughter in Aurora, Colo., and he hinted during the campaign that he might support a new assault weapons ban, presumably if someone else introduced it. Republicans will never do that, because they are mired in an ideology that opposes any gun control."-- New York Times editorial, December 14, 2012, referring to the shooting that day at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Comment: First, this is a distortion (or at least an exaggeration). Republicans do not oppose all gun control whatsoever. In fact, they support many gun control laws, just not as many as Democrats and the editors of The New York Times do. Second, The New York Times editorial page is indulging in "ideologues" rhetoric. Lastly, The New York Times editorial page correctly points out that President Barack Obama earlier indulged in "common sense" rhetoric.
"The issue right now that's relevant is the acknowledgment that if we're going to raise revenues that are sufficient to balance with the very tough cuts that we've already made and the further reforms in entitlements that I'm prepared to make, that we're going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up. And we're not going to be able to get a deal without it. And understand, Julianna, the reason for that. It's not me being stubborn. It's not me being partisan. It's just a matter of math. You know, there's been a lot of talk that somehow we can raise $800 billion or $1 trillion worth of revenue just by closing loopholes and deductions, but a lot of your viewers understand that the only way to do that would be if you completely eliminated, for example, charitable deductions. Well, if you eliminated charitable deductions, that means every hospital and university and not-for-profit agency across the country would suddenly find themselves on the verge of collapse. So that's not a realistic option. When you look at how much revenue you can actually raise by closing loopholes and deductions, it's probably in the range of $300 billion to $400 billion."-- President Barack Obama, December 4, 2012, during interview with Julianna Goldman on Bloomberg TV.
Comment: This is exaggeration and derisive caricature. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that major tax expenditures -- "loopholes and deductions" in Obama's words -- amount to $12 trillion in revenue over 10 years and $800 billion in just the year 2012. It's open to discussion how accurate their predictions are, but it the CBO numbers indicate that raising $800 billion over 10 years by closing loopholes and deductions (as Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) proposes) is entirely plausible. There may be good policy reasons not to close those loopholes, and closing them may be very unpopular with voters, and Obama is entirely within his rights to demand that Republicans specify which exemptions and deductions they would ended. But that's different from saying that raising $800 billion is wrong just as a "matter of math". Doing what's unpopular isn't comparable to doing something mathematically impossible or logically contradictory, as Obama describes. Obama is exaggerating, and derisively implying that Republicans are unable to do basic math.
"[A]s the clock ticks down towards the New Year, nearly every single American is facing the real prospect of what’s called the Fiscal Cliff. If we don’t act by the end of the year, 28 million more families and individuals will be forced to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax, 21 times as many farmers and ranchers will be hit with the death tax, and the average middle-class family would see their taxes go up by at least $2,000."-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT), December 1, 2012, during the weekly GOP address.
Comment: The "fiscal cliff" label (which didn't originate with Hatch) is metaphorical language. Is it accurate or inflammatory? Is it an exaggeration? If the President and the Congress don't reach an agreement by the end of the year, do we really face a situation akin (metaphorically speaking) to going over a cliff? Or is it more akin to a slope, or a hill?
OBAMA: Well, Governor Romney's right. You are familiar with jobs being shipped overseas, because you invested in companies that were shipping jobs overseas. And, you know, that's your right. I mean, that's how our free market works. But I've made a different bet on American workers. You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we'd be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.-- President Barack Obama, October 22, 2012, during the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, FL, between Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
Comment: First, Obama is again making a flawed argument about outsourcing: just because Romney outsourced jobs while a member of Bain Capital doesn't mean he'll do that as president, any more than Obama as president organized protests just like he did when he worked as a community organizer. Second, Obama is again questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the bailouts of GM and Chrysler by saying that he was betting on American workers (the implication being that those who opposed the bailouts were betting against American workers). Lastly, even if GM and Chrysler were to go out of business, there would still have been a US auto industry, because Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and other car companies would still have been operating car factories in the US and hiring US auto workers. To say we'd be buying (presumably, all or the bulk of our) cars from China is an exaggeration.
OBAMA: I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong.-- President Barack Obama, October 22, 2012, during the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, FL, between Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
Comment: Really? Every opinion Romney has offered on foreign policy has been wrong? Even on policies where he has agreed with Obama? This is an exaggeration.
BIDEN: "These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Period."-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Comment: I'm not sure how to clearly measure which set of sanctions is more crippling, but Biden's definitive statement here seems exaggerated. What about the sanctions on Cuba, or on North Korea? Haven't they been roughly as bad as the ones on Iran?
BIDEN: "[T]his is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do."-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Comment: Again, another false statement, an exaggeration. Even just limited to the topics of foreign policy and defense, there are lots of things Obama promised to do that he has not done. He hasn't closed the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, or ended the use of military commissions to try terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, or reached an agreement with Russia to take more nuclear weapons off of "hair-trigger" alert, or gotten the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ratified, or doubled the budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), or formed an international working group to aid Iraqi refugees, or doubled the number of Peace Corps volunteers, or recognized the Armenian genocide, all of which he promised to do.
RADDATZ: "I just want to you about right in the middle of the crisis. Governor Romney, and you’re talking about this again tonight, talked about the weakness; talked about apologies from the Obama administration. Was that really appropriate right in the middle of the crisis?"-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
RYAN: "On that same day, the Obama administration had the exact same position. Let’s recall that they disavowed their own statement that they had put out earlier in the day in Cairo. So we had the same position, but we will -- it’s never too early to speak out for our values. We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting; when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights. And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us. They’re more brazen in their attacks, and are allies are less willing to -- "
BIDEN: "With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey."
RADDATZ: "And why is that so?"
BIDEN: "Because not a single thing he said is accurate."
Comment: Not a single thing? Biden may legitimately disagree with much of what Ryan said, but it's false -- an exaggeration -- to say none of it is accurate. For instance, the Obama administration did disavow the statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, so Ryan is correct about that, at least.
As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, "Tell him: You can do it." Obama grinned. "That's the only advice I need," he said. "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer." "Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked. "You know, kids have good instincts," Obama offered. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"-- President Barack Obama, October 11, 2012, during interview with Douglas Brinkley for Rolling Stone Magazine.
Comment: If Obama believes Romney has engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, then he should just say so and defend that claim. There's no need for him to refer to Romney with profanity, implying that Romney cares nothing about the truth. Plus, given that Obama has also engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, would Obama apply the same profanity to himself? Probably not. Finally, do kids really have good instincts? Isn't much of the point of kids' education teaching them things that they don't know instinctively, things that they need to know if they're going to thrive and prosper (or at least avoid drinking cleaning fluids?)?
"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."-- Vice President Joe Biden, September 6, 2012, addressing the Democratic National Convention.
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).
"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."-- Vice President Joe Biden, September 6, 2012, addressing the Democratic National Convention.
Comment: Is this true? Obama and Romney have nothing in common when it comes to values? This isn't just an exaggeration?
"This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S."-- Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME), July 7, 2012.
Comment: This is distortion and exaggeration. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka "ObamaCare") is nothing like the Gestapo.