Lie Hard II – Lie Harder: How The Presidency Was Won – Obama Edition

This is part two of my pseudo-scientific examination of truthiness in presidential politics. It was prompted by this vague feeling of dread that Romney and Ryan were lying a lot. I was desirous of quantification (and hopefully confirmation) of my feelings. So like any good empirical scientist, I set off on an expedition to prove what I already felt was true. I found me a data source and produced some pie charts.

Methodology: I did an existing data study to produce the pie chart graph shown on the right. The data set consisted of the last 20 “Truth-O-Meter” responses to statements by Barack Obama as evaluated by PolitiFact.com.

I did not “cherry pick” the source data. I merely used the 20 most recent statements by Barack Obama at the moment I happened to look. I then counted each type of rating and produced the chart.

Additional analysis and source data is provided after the jump.
According to my (admittedly limited) study Obama is only “honest” 40 percent of the time. He’s “half” honest 35 percent of the time. And he’s “dishonest” (mostly false or worse) a whopping 25 percent of the time.

Is this level of honesty good enough for the position of President of the United States? America will make that decision come November. Is it okay to lie? Does integrity in factual statements matter? Or are other traits more important?

Tomorrow I’ll post some conclusions regarding my “study” (ha) and some pithy observations. Stay tuned!

No doubt some of you will fell that PolitiFact.com is biased. There may or may not be some validity to that. All human endeavors are subject to bais. I merely selected them because they are convenient to use for an existing data study and they have a stated goal of finding impartial truth. We may disagree on how effectively they reach that goal but at least it is their goal. Some news media operates without striving for that standard.

SOURCE DATA

True: 3
Mostly True: 5
Half True: 7
Mostly False: 3
False: 1
Pants On Fire: 1

Total: 20

Rated statements by Barack Obama (via PolitiFact.com Truth-O-Meter):

1. Mostly True
Says under the Romney-Ryan budget … “the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college tuition would be eliminated.”

2. Half True
Says Paul Ryan “tried to change the whole game” for Social Security.

3. Mostly True
“His new running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year.”

4. Half True
Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan “could raise future retirees’ costs more than $6,000.”

5. True
“Mitt Romney says class sizes don’t matter.”

6. Mostly True
Says that as Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney “condemned coal-fired plants, saying they kill people.”

7. Mostly False
“In Florida, they’re already talking about how the Ryan-Romney plan will end Medicare and replace it with a voucher.”

8. Half True
Says “Paul Ryan supports banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.”

9. Mostly True
Says Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan “want to turn Medicare into a voucher system.”

10. True
Says Mitt Romney “wants to end tax credits for wind producers.”

11. Half True
“We do know that Romney personally approved over $70 million in fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious ‘Son of Boss’ tax scandal, one of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history.”

12. Half True
Says Mitt Romney “paid only 14 percent in taxes — probably less than you.”

13. True
Says Mitt Romney opposes requiring employers to cover contraception and would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

14. Half True
Says Romney would add “trillions” to the deficit while Obama would “cut the deficit by $4 trillion.”

15. Mostly True
Mitt Romney is proposing a tax plan “that would give millionaires another tax break and raises taxes on middle class families by up to $2,000 a year.”

16. Pants On Fire
Says Mitt Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.”

17. Mostly True
“Gov. Romney’s plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top.”

18. Mostly False
Says he could be “the first president in modern history to be outspent.”

19. Mostly False
Says Mitt Romney’s carried interest income was a tax “trick.”

20. False
Mitt Romney “says the Arizona immigration law should be a model for the nation.”

6 responses

  1. Thanks for going to all of this work. It’s a tough job, and as I said previously, even the fact checkers need to be fact checked. But it’s an imperfect world. (Except for you and me!)

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    1. Woot! I forgot to add that any mistakes in these two posts are my own and entirely without bias. 🙂

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  2. The best thing I like about this post is my mental image of you going mental as you scrounged through the truths and lies.

    Did it make you feel dirty? 🙂

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    1. I learned a thing or two. There was one thing that really set me off. I shall try to remember it.

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  3. […] Lie Hard II – Lie Harder: How The Presidency Was Won – Obama Edition […]

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  4. Thanks for this post, Tom. I’m getting increasingly more nervous as the election approaches. Honestly, I have no idea what to do. All the mudslinging from both camps gets confusing. Honestly, Obama & Romney both sound like tools at this point, and I don’t really think I want either of them running our country. I know I don’t want to vote for Romney, and don’t really like the Republican ideal, but Obama had done things during his term that aren’t so good… so, crap, I really have no idea what’s going to happen. Wonder if an Independent ever has a chance of winning.

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