Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nothing To See Here: The Obama movie

I wouldn't ordinarily watch a campaign mockumentary, but since PolitiFact tagged it for fact checking I decided to give it a whirl and see what might have looked worthy of a fact check to a conservative.

This claim came from the film's narrator:
Not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt had so much fallen on the shoulders of one president.  And when he faced his country, who looked to him for answers, he would not dwell in blame by dreaming idealism.
I'm not quite sure what "he would not dwell in blame by dreaming idealism" is supposed to mean.  If it's supposed to mean that idealistic dreams per se do not necessarily blame others then the statement is trivially true.  But it comes across sounding like Obama did not blame others for the nation's predicament.

Another from the narrator:
He acted first with the Recovery Act, giving help where it was most urgently needed.  The country had been hemorrhaging jobs.  More than 3.5 million lost in 6 six months before he took office.  Middle-class jobs and economic security were vanishing.  The funding would keep teachers in the classroom, cops on the street and first responders ready.  And for those who were hurting: small business incentives, tax cuts for the middle class and job training.  Building bridges, highways, and infrastructure.  Laying the groundwork for a new economy and restoring the possibility of growth.
The description of the recovery act contains a number of discrete claims.  Do PolitiFact staffers pay attention to critiques of the stimulus?  And is it plausible to believe that the stimulus restored "the possibility of growth" when the chart provided by its architect shows recovery with or without the stimulus bill?

Yet another from the narrator:
But in exchange for help the president [Obama] would demand action.  The Bush administration had given the car companies $13 billion dollars.
Doesn't that suggest that Obama demanded steps from the car companies to ensure their future success while Bush simply gave money with no strings attached?  The surrounding context in the film only magnifies the impression.

More tough choices?  Mr. Narrator:
He had promised to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, and bring the troops home.  It was a promise kept.
It amuses me to think of liberals who consider the line above and earnestly wonder "How is that even the least bit questionable?"  Subsequently, the film explains that the end of the Iraq War was part of Obama's plan to focus on the war in Afghanistan.  There's a clue to the tip of the iceberg.

He restored science to its rightful place. [caption reads:  "Restores Stem Cell Research Funding"]
That paired claim may be worthy of a contest to see who can come up with the highest number of legitimate reasons it's a knee-slapper.

And another:
Cracking down on credit card companies and mortgage lenders, so the American people would never have to bail out Wall Street again.
This documentary is actually like a patchwork of Obama campaign commercials.

And yet another:
They changed the way the world sees us.
Okay, I do think that one's true.  But I'm interested in the metrics.  The visuals suggest that other nations now love us.

There's even more:
And a landmark law, so that a woman who does the same job as a man can get the same pay.  [caption reads:  "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Passes"]
That's the purpose of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?  Who knew?

I could add more but the list is already longer than I expected.  PolitiFact only found two (see Addendum below) items worth checking in this beast?  Amazing. 

Addendum:  As I move to publish, I note that PolitiFact evaluated two more claims from the film, including one of the statements from my list.  Look for an analysis of the PolitiFact treatment at Sublime Bloviations.

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