Presidential debates are known for whoppers. Candidates play loose and slippery with the truth. It seems like they make up “facts” to support their positions. Since many political pundits have opined that the current wave of Republican debates have brought these stretches of the truth to unprecedented levels, it’s important to distinguish between facts, lies, and what is just a political opinion.
For example, at last Thursday’s debate in Orlando, Florida, Michelle Bachman said “President Obama has the lowest public approval ratings of any president in modern time.” Approval ratings are a concrete and well documented number. It’s a fixed number which can be checked. For example, President George W. Bush hit a low of 25%. President Obama? His low is 38%. In fact, all 8 Presidents in the past 47 years have had lower ratings at some point of their Presidency. And that’s a numerical fact. Further, according to the Gallup Poll web site, only two Presidents in the past 70 years (Eisenhower and Kennedy) didn’t dip lower. So Michelle Bachman’s “facts” were not even close to being true.
As part of trashing Social Security, Rick Perry called it a “crumbling monument to the failure of the new deal.” Was the New Deal a failure? That’s an opinion that historians, including contemporary ones, have consistently debated. True, the New Deal built many of our country’s dams, bridges, highways, public buildings, etc. It created the infrastructure that helped drive the USA to become the world’s most successful economy. It put millions of people to work who were jobless in the Depression. It created Social Security and many of the underpinnings of the social safety net which helped build the middle class. But to say it was a failure is an opinion, not something which is fact based.