VP candidates play fast and loose with facts

Friday, October 3, 2008

We doubt there were "high fives" in either of the campaign headquarters following Thursday night's vice presidential debate, but no heads should be hanging, either.

In the end, it's doubtful many of Gov. Sarah Palin's fans were dissuaded from voting for her ticket, and Sen. Joe Biden kept his notoriously untamed tongue under control enough to avoid creating a new controversy.

We can't imagine the pressure Biden and Palin felt, despite Biden's years in the Senate and Palin's beauty pageant experience and short political career, and perhaps it's too much to expect them to have encyclopedic memory when it comes to facts and figures raised during the debate.

But here are a few of the errors noted on the factcheck.org Web site:

* While troop levels are gradually coming down in Iraq, they'll remain higher than pre-surge levels through early next year. Palin claimed they had already returned to pre-surge levels.

* McCain and Obama actually voted on different sides of a controversial troop funding bill, not the same as Biden claimed.

* Obama didn't really vote in favor of increasing taxes on families making as little as $42,000 a year, as Palin claimed. That bill wouldn't have affected a family of four unless it made at least $90,000 a year.

* On the same bill, Biden incorrectly claimed that McCain voted the same way as Obama, which he did not. McCain's vote actually was for an unrelated amendment.

* McCain's health care plan could cost the government billions of dollars each year, not be "budget neutral" as Palin claimed. Details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates, however.

* McCain didn't actually reject a meeting with the president of Spain, as Biden claimed. McCain simply refused to commit himself one way or another during an interview.

* Obama's tax proposals might increase taxes on several hundred thousand business owners, not "millions of small businesses" as Palin claimed.

All of the errors and misrepresentations probably didn't make a difference to the listeners, who are tuned in more via their emotions than intellect.

But the truth should count for something.

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