The argument police

To the Washington Post’s “fact-checker” column, a statement that is indisputably true can still be false, if it is cited as part of an argument that it only imperfectly supports.

A few days ago, it was the Romney campaign’s statement that 90% of the 740k jobs lost under President Obama were held by women. The statistic is true, but it’s still somehow false (they actually said “true but false”!) because, er, well, um, it might not really be Obama’s fault.

In the latest example, the Post admits that Romney’s statement that Obama has added nearly 150,000 thousand federal employees is true, but says that the statement is somehow still false (“significant omissions and/or exaggerations”) because it was cited while on the topic of Obama’s legion of new regulators and not all of those 150k employees were regulators.

You see how this works? You want to cite the number of new regulators. There are tons of them (thousands from Obamacare alone), but it’s hard to come up with a precise number. You could try to estimate it, but then the “fact-checker” would quibble with your numbers and call you a liar. So instead you cite a statistic that is apposite (that two numbers are certainly correlated) and indisputable, but you still get called a liar because the figure only imperfectly supports your thesis.

Good lord, can you imagine if that standard were applied evenly? How often does the left cite facts that only imperfectly support their argument (if at all)? Essentially everything they say fits into that category:

A small fraction of Americans have trouble getting affordable health insurance, therefore we must nationalize the health insurance industry. A woman claims to spend over $1000 per year on contraception, therefore Catholics must be forced to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients. Warren Buffett masterfully exploits tax shelters, therefore we must leave the tax shelters in place but hike the top tax rate that Buffett isn’t paying anyway.

(Via Don Surber.)

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