Friday, October 01, 2004

Debate Misstatements--A partisan (but objective!) scorecard

A big part of the spin in the '04 Gore-Bush debates was the myth -- grounded, as all myths are, in reality -- that Gore couldn't resist his tendency to "embellish." Here, it seems that both Bush and Kerry made a few statements that were either factually incorrect, or didn't quite make sense. From a quick survey of this morning's coverage of the debates, it seems that neither are getting nailed especially hard on inaccuracies. Here is a list of 8 important debate misstatements I've seen documented in the media this morning:

1. On whether Bush went to the UN before invading Iraq (Kerry says no, Bush says he did). The LA Times:

Bush, for example, eager to blunt Kerry's charges that he charged unilaterally into the Iraq war, contended that his administration had "used diplomacy every chance we get." In fact, though Bush sought United Nations approval for the war in early 2003, it had become clear that the administration's patience for diplomacy was nearly exhausted. The administration rebuffed proposals from other countries that would have extended international weapons inspections and delayed the March 2003 invasion.

But this we knew.

2. On how 10 million Afghans have registered to vote, when there aren't 10 million eligible voters in Afghanistan. (Via Keywords)

3. On whether Pakistan's Abdul Qadeer Khan has been "brought to justice." This was, in my view, the most glaring and horrific of any statement by either candidate. The LA Times again:

Bush also sought to portray efforts underway as projects completed. Outlining his administration's progress against nuclear proliferation, he asserted that the network of Pakistani physicist Abdul Qadeer Khan had been "busted" and "brought to justice."

However, Khan himself was pardoned by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February, and of 11 staff members at the top-secret Khan Research Laboratories near Islamabad originally believed to be involved in the nuclear trafficking, none has been charged after lengthy detentions and interrogations. International investigations are still underway.

4. On whether the U.S. has trained 100,000 Iraqi troops. Here Bush is not as wrong as the Democrats seem to think:

Bush said there were currently a "hundred thousand troops trained" — close to the 96,681 trained police and military forces cited in a Sept. 22 statement by the Defense Department.

Though Bush's claim is factually true, it has drawn strong criticism as an overstatement by Democrats in Congress and independent military experts. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage acknowledged last Friday to Congress that some of the forces were "shake-and-bake" trainees, with three weeks of training or less. (LA Times)

If there's a credible number close to 100,000, the Dems can't do much with this one, even if 75% of them are "shake-and-bake."

5. On why there are so many insurgents in Iraq. Here I go to Slate:

Bush's counter—that the problems exist because Gen. Tommy Franks won the battle for Baghdad too quickly (the Baathists disappeared, now they're coming back and we're fighting the war we thought we'd have to fight last year)—is deeply unconvincing. For one thing, most of the insurgents are not Saddam loyalists. Many are Shiites who hated Saddam.

Yes-- "we're losing the peace because we won the war too fast" doesn't exactly inspire.

6. On North Korea--bilateral vs. multilateral talks: Slate and others say that China, South Korea, and Russia are all actually encouraging the U.S. to have bilateral talks with North Korea, so Bush's point that bilateral talks would disrupt relations with China doesn't make any sense.

7. On whether Osama Bin Laden is actually in Afghanistan, as Kerry suggested he is. (Instapundit tried to make something of this.) Who cares? Nab the guy, then we'll have a discussion about where he is, ok?

8. Was the subway running during the RNC? Kerry says no. Everyone in New York City says yes.

Admittedly, this list is a bit partisan -- 6 against Bush, 2 against Kerry (though point #7 is really irrelevant). But then, Kerry hasn't been running the country (even ostensibly) for the past four years. Bush should know better.


Anjali Taneja said...

Thanks for the fact-checking, amardeep. True, there's 6 for kerry and 2 for bush, but kerry was in the business of debunking bush's lies, so it would make sense to have more lies on bush's side.

Now if only the mainstream media would actually do this fact checking post debate.

5:51 PM  

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