The Cottage on the Moor is a place where I'll keep a fire going on cold winter nights and a breeze flowing through the windows on steamy summer days. There will be a "cup of warm" waiting for you to stimulate your mind. I'll try to keep it fresh by adding something every week or two. So come often. I hope you find worth your while.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Time Now For A Wrap-up
Now that the Wisconsin recall election is over it might be
useful to look at the candidates one last time. I’ve used the truthfulness
ratings of Politifact.com – perhaps the most unbiased and reliable
fact-checking website – to follow the candidates during the long and painful
campaign. It has been clear, all along, that absolute truthfulness is rare in a
political campaign. And absolute truthfulness – though perhaps an impossible
dream – should certainly be the goal of every worthy candidate. It is the wish
of every worthy citizen.
Allowance needs to be made for some slippage, however. All people
sometimes misspeak. All candidates rely upon aids and other sources for their
information and may not always be well served by those sources. So no one
deserves to labeled a liar because of an inadvertent slip-up, later
acknowledged and corrected, or for passing on incorrect information, later
retracted or corrected. Politifact.com tends not to rate statements later
retracted or corrected. It is concerned about those claims made and repeated in
the face of evidence showing them to be wrong, or those which the candidate
resists correcting or makes no effort to correct, as well as those true
statements that have become critical to the campaign.
I do not always agree with the manner in which Politifact.com
parses its analyses but I think it is impartial and applies the same standard
to all candidates. So let’s look at the
final statistics from Politifact.com for the Governor Walker and Tom Barrett.
I am willing to grant a “Straight Shooter” award for the
categories of “True” and “Mostly True”. In those categories Tom Barrett is the
clear winner with 33% of his claims achieving that ranking. Walker stands at
20%. Neither 33% or 20% is a very good record of truthfulness but there is a
clear difference in the candidates.
In my book, anything less than “Mostly True” smacks of
either an attempt to deceive, using just enough truth to mask some untruth, or
an outright attempt to purvey false information, or a pathological urge to tell
a lie when the truth would serve everyone better.
Once again neither candidate comes out looking very good.
What we heard from Scott Walker during the campaign was less than “Mostly True”
a whopping 80% of the time. Barrett has nothing to brag about at 68%.
In two lowest categories of truthfulness – “False” and “Pants
on Fire” – both candidates scored a 42% ranking.
This pitiful picture does not offer much hope for good government.
Both men will continue to serve in offices of high responsibility – Walker as
governor, Barrett as mayor of Milwaukee. Even granting the fact that a
political campaign is a frantic and desperate scramble in which decisions about
what to say and do must be made quickly, little can be said in defense of such pathetic
records of truthlessness. Perhaps those who readily lie in the heat of a
campaign can be cooler heads when it comes to governing. I would hope so. No, I
would like to hope so. I do not, in
fact, have any hope that such is the case.