The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

September 10, 2012

Sunday Forum: Conventions rallied, but often reached

Get ready for 60 more days of half-truths, misstatements, overstatements and sometimes flat-out fibs leading to Election Day.

In a back-to-back preview of what’s to come, Democrats stretched the truth at their national convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week, just as Republicans did at their gathering the week before in Tampa, Fla.

There’s little that can stop it. If Democrats and Republicans don’t have much in common politically these days, they do share an open disdain for truth-squad results that don’t go their way.

Republicans and conservatives, riled by blistering assessments of the veracity of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s convention speech, howled that media fact checkers are nothing more than liberal toadies of the Democratic Party. Democrats also have waged war on fact checkers. President Barack Obama’s campaign complained to the independent group FactCheck.org after it said Obama unfairly blamed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for the actions of Bain Capital, the company Romney co-founded, after he left the business in 1998.

“We have blowback from everyone we critique,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, which oversees FactCheck.org. “It’s business as usual and we just accept it.”

At the Democratic convention, several speakers took liberties with facts, from claims about Romney’s tenure as the governor of Massachusetts to the impact of Republican plans for Medicare and Pell Grants.

Here’s a look at the rhetoric and the reality:

Democrats

President Barack Obama: “We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.”

The facts: Obama has claimed an increase of some 500,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 29 months. But this is cherry picking by the president. From the beginning of Obama’s term 31⁄2 years ago, manufacturing jobs have declined by more than 500,000, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing jobs have been on a steady decline for nearly two decades.

Even though there has been a modest uptick in manufacturing jobs this year, unless there is a major turnaround, it seems unlikely that Obama’s goal of 1 million new manufacturing jobs can be reached by his target date of 2016.

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