FactCheck on the Biden-Palin Debate

Factcheck.org has the skinny:

  • Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
  • Biden incorrectly said “John McCain voted the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on opposite sides.
  • Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.
  • Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn’t address taxes at that income level.
  • Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain’s plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.
  • Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said “he wouldn’t even sit down” with the president of Spain. Actually, McCain didn’t reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.
  • Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.

The debate was good. If debates are more about “getting to know” the candidates rather than getting to the truth behind the issues, I’d say Biden did pretty well. I knew next to nothing about Biden except that he has run for President a bunch of times and doesn’t like the latest SCOTUS Justices nominated by the Bush Administration. The fact that he hasn’t been paid much attention to until now helps him a good deal. Obviously, he is no stiff. He also had an edge when it came to offering up answers that sounded substantial, but he did seem to lapse into lecturing a bit after being needled.

Palin exceeded the low expectations everyone, including me, had for her. That moral victory in itself plays to her favor in a significant way. The first few minutes she seemed nervous, but as time wore on she found her personality and charmed a few smiles out of her opponent. Her answers tended to dodge and “go back” to things already addressed, but she wasn’t always on the defensive either. In the “who would I like to have for a neighbor?” category, I think she scored a lot of points.

The moderator asked a lot of good questions that didn’t get answered, of course. That’s the way it goes, but this debate was far more enjoyable than the first Presidential one.

What did you think?


8 thoughts on “FactCheck on the Biden-Palin Debate

  1. I think she won. Jonah Goldberg made a good point that Biden seemed to have gravitas only because he was very comfortable delivering outright lies. He did not once respond to anything Palin said with anything that was remotely truthful, instead claiming repeatedly that Obama voted for bills in ways that he didn’t. Team McCain should make a point of that.

    Most egregious was his refutation of the “myth” (to the degree that something that happened on national television, and which was the source of thousands of news-stories can be regarded as myth… Welcome to the Hopeface memory hole) that Barack Obama never said he would meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions.

    Biden offered a special correction to say that Obama never said “sit down with Ahmadinejad”. This is technically true, insofar as Obama never referred to taking a seated position, but otherwise false. Then he said that five secretaries of state are encouraging us to “sit down, and talk, talk, talk”, and that this is Obama’s platform.

  2. northhc says:

    I think Palin is irritating. As a woman and a McCain supporter, she just seems like a bad fit for the job. It was hard for me and Tim not to side with J.Biden during the debate. She never seemed to answer a question straight.

  3. northhc says:

    Shoot. I see my comment posted as northhc. I’m not really. Forgot to logout of a site I’m making on WordPress. The above comment was from Kathy!

  4. I think Kathy just violated federal tax laws.

    Jim Geraghty has a good tally of Biden’s lies and hallunications


    My favorite.

    BIDEN: Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie’s Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years.

    REALITY: Katie’s Restaurant is no longer in business; locals remember it on Union Street 25 to 30 years ago.

    He also said we worked with France to remove Hezbollah from Lebanon, which didn’t make sense on any level. Again, it’s easy to be direct and answer a question when you are producing rote fabrication or inaccuracy. I think Christians, of all people, should value veracity and ideas over smoothness.

  5. Amanda says:

    On a superficial level, I couldn’t get past either of their physical quirks: Gov. Palin’s winking or Sen. Biden’s fake tan and obvious (and huge!!!) veneers.

    On a less-ridiculous note, I thought Gov. Palin was better on almost everything with the exception of speaking ease. As Kevin said, Biden was way better at smoothly lying outright, but Palin was more relateable, down-to-earth, and believable. I thought both candidates deserve praise for their (fairly) congenial rapport…my final thought is that this was probably one of the most boring debate exchanges I’ve witnessed. I suppose that’s somewhat of a good thing?

  6. Elton says:

    I hate debates such as these for the follow reasons:

    1. Neither party has credibility if you have to fact check their claims.
    2. Question dodging is a time-honored practice. You tend to notice this practice from the person you don’t like.
    3. Victory is declared much later by pundits and historians compared to the lay people who tend to view success based on eloquence and spewing of factoids and names.

    Just about the only usefulness of these debates is if you have a Mike Dukakis. Elections go as James Carville said 16 years ago: “it’s the economy, stupid.”

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