Barbers for Dodd, Gorbie Endorses Rudy
Before everybody relaxes for the weekend, some facts to ponder over Halloween:
Barbers for Dodd
"Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd today announced that his campaign will begin running a new ad entitled "Jim's," highlighting his ability to achieve results as President....The 60-second spot will run in Iowa and on national cable networks and introduces John and Jesse, two barbers at Jim's barbershop in Winterset, Iowa, where the ad was shot."
--Dodd campaign press release, October 24, 2007.
There's one minor problem with the Dodd ad, and we are indebted to the Des Moines Register for pointing it out. "John" and "Jesse" are not barbers. They are not Democratic voters. In fact, they are not even from Iowa. They are actors from Chicago. There is a "Jim's barbershop" in Winterset, but it is run by a registered Republican, Jim Kinser, who let the Dodd people have the run of his store, but has no plans to vote for the silver-haired senator from Connecticut. And just for the record: Dodd never got a haircut there.
"I am sorry for any confusion," said Dodd spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan. She emphasized that "the place that the ad was shot was real," even if the "barbers" weren't.
The Dodd campaign claims that the use of actors is pretty standard in political ads. An obvious example is the recent series of "job interviews" in which New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has trouble convincing the interviewer that he has the experience to be president, despite a long track record of negotiating with dictators, serving as ambassador to the U.N., secretary of energy, and so on. (See Richardson video here.) As far as we are aware, however, the Richardson campaign never claimed that the "interviewer" was a real "interviewer."
We would award this four Pinocchios, but we are subtracting one Pinocchio for the mediocre acting. Despite the press release, it is difficult to believe that many viewers could have been fooled that these were real people.
Gorbie for Rudy
"According to Gorbachev, in his book, he says that Ronald Reagan spent the Soviets out of existence."
--Rudy Giuliani, Republican debate, October 21, 2007
It is an article of faith among conservatives that Ronald Reagan brought down the "Evil Empire" by challenging Gorbachev to an arms race he could not possibly win, through "Star Wars" type projects. Those of us who were there at the time (I was The Post's Moscow correspondent from 1988 to 1993) had the impression that the story was a little more complicated than that. I concluded in my book Down with Big Brother that communism was such an appallingly inefficient system that it ultimately "defeated itself."
But that's a different argument. The question here is whether the last of the Red tsars, Mikhail Gorbachev, endorsed the American conservative view of how communism fell. I took another look through his turgid 700-page memoir, and could not find any quote resembling the statement cited by Rudy Giuliani.
I have repeatedly asked the Giuliani campaign for factual support for the mayor's claim, but they have failed to produce anything. If they come up with an appropriate Gorbachev citation, I will be happy to review my verdict. In the meantime, we award Giuliani three Pinocchios.
UPDATE. FRIDAY 4:15 P.M. The Giuliani campaign has finally provided the citation for the mayor's claim on Gorbachev. It consists of a quote not from a Gorbachev book, but a book called "Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union" by Peter Schweizer. The Schweizer book has become a bible for Reaganites who claim that their hero delivered the coup de grace that finished off the "Evil Empire."
In his book, Schweizer quotes Gorbachev as saying the following in October 1986, shortly after the Rejkavik summit. "The US wants to exhaust the Soviet Union economically through a race in the most up-to-date and expensive space weapons." Gorbachev went on to accuse Reagan of "wishful thinking."
It is a matter of historical record that the Soviet Union did collapse five years later. One can argue about the reasons for the collapse and the role played by various internal and external factors, including an Alice in Wonderland economy, deep-seated ethnic strains, the superpower arms race, and Gorbachev's own policies. Unfortunately for Giuliani, a 1986 Gorbachev quote accusing Reagan of wanting "to exhaust the Soviet Union economically" is not at all the same thing as an acknowledgment by Gorbachev that Reagan did indeed spend the Soviet Union "out of existence."
Founders for Huckabee
"When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, those 56 brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen, they said that we have certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator."
--Mike Huckabee, Republican debate, October 21, 2007.
It's understandable why Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister and Republican presidential candidate, would want to inflate the number of clergymen who were present at the creation. But he is not even close, according to our fact-checking colleagues at Politifact.com. Only one of the Founding Fathers, John Witherspoon, was an active minister at the time he signed the Declaration of Independence. Another three or four were former clergymen.
Huckabee spokeswoman Kirsten Fedewa acknowledged the error while pointing out that at least 29 of the Founding Fathers had studied religion in college. Politifact issued Huckabee a damning "Pants on Fire" verdict for his mistake. We concede that the good minister may simply have been a little confused, so we award him just three Pinocchios.
Some scary stats for Halloween
According to an Associated Press poll:
Sampling error: plus or minus three percentage points.
Readership survey. Which of the following would scare you most if you were to find him/her/it in your closet? (a) a monster, (b) a fact checker, (c) a presidential candidate, (d) Al Gore. Answers by October 31, please.
| October 26, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: 3 Pinocchios, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, History, Other Foreign Policy
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