Saturday, August 15, 2009

Inheriting the (partisan) wind

Over at the Monkey Cage, John Sides decided to tabulate Politifact's scoring of truths and lies on the health care debate. His analysis produced these provocative tables, finding that a) Democrats have been more honest than Republicans; and, b) Obama has been more honest than either Democratic or Republican members of Congress:Needless to say, these claims provoked sharp commentary on both sides. Some questioned the scoring mechanism, and, to be fair, it's hard to know the right way to score this stuff. (If Obama predicts that health reform will save money and a critic predicts it will bankrupt the government, which one's lying?) It also reminded me of James Carville's lament in 1992: "If Bill Clinton says 50+50=104, and George Bush says 50+50=104,000, the media will say they're both stretching the truth."

But beyond the methodological questions, would any analysis like this actually settle a debate? Would either side accept a study saying their side is less truthful?

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