Hastert Uses "Truthiness" To Conclude Republicans Will Increase Congressional Majority In November
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said Thursday that the Republicans would "increase our majority in November."
How did Hastert conclude this? I can come up with two possibilities:
-- Hastert is in serious denial.
-- Hastert, lacking actual facts, turned to spin.
That's not to say that Hastert is wrong. We won't know until November whether Republicans pick up or lose seats in Congress. It's just that Hastert's " truthiness" is so easy to pick apart.
According to Reuters, Hastert's main reason for why Republicans will do well in November is: "We are winning in Iraq."
Clearly he was sharing the administration's long-term view of "winning."
The next day, Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker offered a different take on Iraq: "I think we're closer to the beginning than we are to the end of all this."
Schoomaker, asked if we're "winning" in Iraq, said: "I think I would answer that by telling you I don't think we're losing." Clearly, he hadn't conferred with Hastert.
(Note: Anyone taking bets that Schoomaker's candor will result in a quick return to Wyoming, where he "lured out of retirement" by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld?)
Hastert was also reportedly pleased with a recent projection of the Fiscal Year 2007 deficit at only $296 billion -- fourth-largest in our nation's history.
But that total doesn't include "emergency spending" measures for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and other needs. In fact, the same document reveals that the White House will ask Congress for another $110 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, putting the actual FY 2007 deficit at no less than $406 billion -- second only to the FY2004 budget deficit for largest in our nation's history.
What again was Hastert celebrating?
Finally, Hastert was "encouraged by ... a new Gallup Poll that found House Democrats' advantage shrinking from 16 percentage points to 10 points."
But even that innocuous comment seems grounded in spin.
Gallup's editor-in-chief, Frank Newport, actually suggested on Friday that Hastert took Gallup poll results out of context to make the positive-for-Republicans claim.
"There's been a lot of bouncing around in the generic ballot gap ... and not necessarily indicative of any type of major shift in voter sentiment," Newport said.
While Hastert wants Americans to look at the big picture with Iraq, he doesn't want to look at the big picture with polls about Republican job security.
As Newport noted, the average Democratic advantage since January was 12 points -- barely more than the current 10-point advantage. Compare the most recent poll (July 6-9) with one from a month earlier (June 1-4), and you'd find that the Democratic advantage grew by one percentage point.