I've just been looking at the coverage of the debate and recent ads by factcheck.org and came to the startling conclusion that, much like the MSM, they seem to be "out to get" John Edwards. I mean, a company called "fact check" should probably, you know, stick to the facts. Instead, they play fast and loose with the facts, maybe they live by the "depends what the definition of is is" motto from the 1990s. Either way, I thought I would offer a counterpoint to their checksof the debate, and of the recently released ads.
First, Yucca mountain. In the debate wrap-up, factcheck.org focuses on Edward saying he changed his mind based on the stolen documents. They completely ignore his statement about changing science.
Edwards' Weak Alibi
Edwards said he had changed his position on a proposed nuclear waste site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain because of allegations of forged documents.
Actually, this isn't what Edward said. What Edwards said:
Former Sen. Edwards: Well, I'm opposed to Yucca Mountain. I will end it for all the reasons that have already been discussed, because of the science that's been discovered, because apparently some forgery of documents that's also been discovered -- all of which has happened in recent years.
In response to a charge from Clinton that he voted twice in favor of making Yucca a nuclear waste site, Edwards said:
Edwards: I said the science that has been revealed since that time and the forged documents that have been revealed since that time have made it very – this has been for years, Hillary. This didn't start last year or three years ago. I've said this for years now – have revealed that this thing does not make sense, is not good for the people of Nevada, and it's not good for America.
Actually, Edwards had changed his position when he signed on as the 2004 running mate of presidential candidate John Kerry, who was opposed to the nuclear repository. That was long before the documents scandal erupted in March 2005.
It seems to me that John Edwards is saying each and every time that he will end it mostly because of the changes in the field. Also, because of the forged documents, but first and foremost because of the changing science. All of which has happened in recent years. It appears that factcheck.org has never heard of, or thought of, reinforcment. Everything Senator Edwards said fits perfectly with the idea that he changed his mind of Yucca mountain at some point in the past and that decision has been reinforced by continuing changes in the science and the discovery of forged documents. All of these things have happened since Edwards supported Yucca mountain many years ago.
Next, about speaking English to become a citizen. Factcheck.org challenges Senator Edwards by pointing out that In fact, the law already requires, with few exceptions, that applicants for citizenship "must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language." They go on to say:
Edwards falsely implied that immigrants generally can become citizens without being required to learn English.
Edwards: I think if you want to become an American citizen and earn American citizenship, you should learn to speak English.
Actually, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, applicants who wish to become naturalized U.S. citizens already "must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language." The only exceptions are for those with physical or mental impairments, those who have been legal residents for 15 years and have reached age 55, or who have been legal residents for 20 years and have reached age 50.
Let's look into what was actually said at the debate.
Williams: Senator Edwards, in touching on immigration here...What would be the problem with English as an official language, as a bedrock requirement of citizenship?
Former Sen. Edwards: Well, at least from my perspective, what we need to be doing is we need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to create a path for citizenship for 11 million to 14 million who are here who are undocumented we need to give them a real chance to earn -- I'm not for amnesty, but I am for being able to earn American citizenship.
Williams: But what about speaking the language?
Former Sen. Edwards: I'm about to get to that...Second, I think if you want to become an American citizen and earn American citizenship, you should learn to speak English.
Now, I think that we should help with that process. We should help make sure that those who are living here, and they're not English-speaking as their first language, get a chance to actually learn English.
But I think that should be a requirement for becoming an American citizen.
If anyone, besides factcheck.org, needs fact checked here, it is Brian Williams. He asked, TWICE, if Senator Edwards thought there was a problem with English being a bedrock requirement of citizenship. Senator Edwards answered, that "if you want to become an American citizen and earn American citizenship, you should learn to speak English."
Perhaps he should have said "as is already the law" and put Brian Williams in his place. But, as it is, he was actually answering the question as asked, not once, but twice. The only ones who are "echoing a Republican line here in appealing to anti-immigrant sentiment" would be Brian Williams and Factcheck.org.
Now, onto the latest ads by Senator Edwards. First, the two ads that Factcheck.org did not attack.
Dime - That John Edwards is the only candidate never to take a dime of Washington Lobbyist and PAC money. I guess they completely agree that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have taken Washington Lobbyist and PAC money.
Ban - That John Edwards is the only candidate who would ban Washington lobbyists from working in his White House. Both of the other candidates have lobbyists on their staff already.
Now, for the ads they challenge.
Deal - that John Edwards is the only candidate who opposed NAFTA and other trade deals that send foreign jobs overseas.
Narrator:Which Democrat opposed NAFTA and other trade deals that send American jobs overseas? John Edwards is the only one.
John Edwards: I'm John Edwards and I approve this message.
The ad titled "Deal" says that "John Edwards is the only one" among Democrats who opposed NAFTA and other trade deals. Of course, none of the current Democratic candidates, Edwards included, was even in Congress when NAFTA was implemented, so such a pronouncement rings a bit hollow.
Hillary Clinton wants us to believe her role as First Lady included much decision-making influence. Well, her husband passed NAFTA. You can't have it both ways. Beyond that there is a first-hand basis for saying that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton support the kind of trade deals that have killed the economy here in North and South Carolina.
In contrast to most of the Democratic presidential candidates who oppose the Peru NAFTA expansion, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois support it. Clinton and Obama’s support for the Peru FTA – after both opposed the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which contained identical provisions and now campaign against NAFTA in Iowa, should make voters wonder just what sort of trade policy Clinton and Obama really support. None of the senators running for president voted today, although all four have issued public statements taking positions on the Peru pact.
Clinton’s support for the Peru FTA suggests that her recent call for "a time-out" on trade agreements apparently begins only after she votes for one more NAFTA-style agreement. The fact that Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to announce his support for the Peru NAFTA expansion two months ago makes his recent attacks on Clinton regarding NAFTA bizarre.
Factcheck goes on:
Edwards has been an outspoken critic of the agreement for some time, but he may be forgetting one of his Democratic counterparts. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is also a strong opponent of NAFTA, and yes, he's still running for president, even though he hasn't been included in some of the recent debates. He even promises on his Web site that, if elected president, he "will end America's participation in NAFTA and the WTO."
Dennis Kucinich received 0% of the caucus support in Iowa and 1.4% of the New Hampshire Primary votes. In Michigan, with only he Gravel and Clinton on the ballot (Dodd has dropped out), he received 3.66% of the vote. Heck, Dodd received .65%, so he is only 3% above a candidate who dropped out and Mike Gravel (who received .4%). If factcheck.org insists on including candidates for the Democratic nomination in their attacks on Edwards, candidate who have 0 delegates, and less than 2% support in any real primary/caucus state; then, I insist that they include all the hopeless candidates in their factchecks of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as well - all fourteen of them.
Beats - in which Edwards lays out how he is the only candidate to beat all the Republicans in head-to-head match-us in a recent CNN poll.
What Factcheck says.
John Edwards For President Ad: "Beats"
Narrator: Who's the only Democrat that beats all the Republicans in the recent CNN poll? John Edwards is the only one.
John Edwards: I'm John Edwards and I approve this message.
The Edwards ad titled "Beats" shows a picture of the two Democratic front-runners he is chasing, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and asks which Democrat "beats all the Republicans in the recent CNN poll." Flash to a photo of Edwards: "John Edwards is the only one." But that's not what "the recent" CNN poll showed.
In fact, Edwards wasn't even included in the most recent CNN poll that compared the Republican and Democratic candidates in head-to-head match-ups.
Isn't that the whole point? It's a ten second ad, is he supposed to explain how CNN is trying to push him out of the race by not polling him - even though they polled a much greater number of Republicans, but that in the last poll when he was included, he did well. Oops, so much for the 10 seconds. This is ridiculous. Factcheck says HE WASN'T INCLUDED IN THOSE POLLS, so how can he talk about them???? The structure of polls matters, what did people think when they were asked about head-to-heads with no John Edwards? Did they know Edwards wasn't being polled? Did they assume he was out of the race?
By the way, he said "the recent" not "the most recent". Can you see the difference there? Maybe "a recent" would have been slightly more correct, but there is nothing in "the recent" that suggests he is trying to fool anyone. In fact, it is only CNN that is trying to fool someone, the American public, by NOT INCLUDING Edwards in "the most recent" CNN poll.
This isn't the first time this has happened. SurveyUSA, which I understand is paid to do match-up polls across the US by a combination of media organizations dropped Edwards from their polls - AFTER HE BEAT EVERY REPUBLICAN by a great margin than ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT.
One has to wonder what Factcheck.org's goal in all of this is. Why are they trying to distort the things that John Edwards has said?