Monday, August 09, 2004

Cheney Lies to Minnesota Voters

Conservatives have, far and wide, been spinning a recent National Journal ranking of the U.S. Senate. The ranking found that for the limited number of votes cast by John Kerry and John Edwards in 2003 -- as they were each running for president -- Kerry was the most liberal Senator, and Edwards was 4th.

And presented that way, the facts are fine. Conservatives could go after the two Senators for having a very liberal voting record for one year.

But that's not the way spin works. The way spin works -- if you are a Sean Hannity or Ed Gillespie, or (unfortunately) if you are President Bush or Vice President Cheney -- is to distort that basic fact. And that truth then becomes a half-truth.

So instead of just saying, "Kerry was the most liberal Senator last year." Or, "Edwards was the fourth-most liberal Senator last year." The conservatives just say that the two men are ranked the first- and fourth-most liberal Senators. They don't offer the time frame.

In truth, Kerry is the 11th-most liberal Senator, if you look at the same National Journal rankings and consider lifetime voting record. And that would make for a fairly convincing argument by Bush and Cheney, or Hannity and Gillespie. It would be hard to deny the conservatives the right to call Kerry a "liberal."

But to do that, they would also have to use an apples-to-apples comparison for Edwards, who ranks 24th during his Senate lifetime -- a moderate Democrat. And in three of the five years Edwards has been ranked, he's held positions averaging close to 40th -- a conservative Democrat.

And thus, the need for spin.

Now, it's bad enough when conservatives offer half-truths. What Cheney did last week can only be described as an outright lie.

Campaigning on Friday in East Grand Forks, Minn., Cheney offered the following when asked about the differences between Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards:

"John Kerry is, by National Journal ratings, the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts.

It's true. All you got to do is go look at the ratings systems. And that captures a lot, I think, in terms of somebody's philosophy. And it's not based on one vote, or one year, it's based on 20 years of service in the United States Senate. Perfectly legitimate view of the world, if that's the way he wants to view it.

In other words, not only was the truth not good enough for Cheney. The half-truth wasn't good enough for him, either.

Sort of makes you wonder where else Cheney has chosen that third option.



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