Sunday, October 7, 2012

Just Give Us the Facts

As I was commenting just the other day, OK, I'm a bit partisan at times. But I am also a small-d democrat. I would like to see the electoral process work.

That's what's really upsetting about Obama's performance in the first debate. Yes, he definitely did himself some short-run damage in public opinion. But the long-run damage is that Romney was able to win the debate while egesting a huge amount of misinformation  and deception.

You probably have heard about some of the more blatant, um, inaccuracies: that under Romney's proposal for health care people with preexisting conditions would be covered (they wouldn't), that half of all the green-energy companies that got support in the stimulus went bankrupt (not even close), and of course the famous $716 billion raid on Medicare. None of these was effectively countered by Obama.

 If this is allowed to stand, democracy in America is pretty much a lost cause. Candidates who are approximately truthful will be crowded out by the most creative, morally untethered fantasists. If there is no price to pay for misleading the public, then it's a race to the bottom. All that is necessary for the triumph of gibberish is for the informed to do nothing.

But the whole debate was just a particularly egregious example of a political failure of Obama throughout his administration. There's a hackneyed old lawyers' adage that begins, "When the facts are on your side, pound the facts." What this administration has consistently neglected to do is pound the facts, even though usually the facts are on their side. We saw this clearly in the health care debate, when neither fact (we're worse than Cuba on infant mortality, yet we have by far the most expensive health care system in the world) nor fiction (death panels, government takeover of health care) was clearly labeled as such by the administration.

The New York Times reports that Obama and the Democrats raised $181 million in September (back when Obama was far ahead in the polls). How about spending some of that money calling out some of the false claims that Romney made in the debates? That would be good for Democrats. And democrats.

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