False equivalency

FALSE EQUIVALENCY…. I tend to like the fact-checking work the Washington Post’s Michael Dobbs has done over the course of the campaign, but this morning, he published an item about “some of the more questionable claims” that didn’t quite work. For example, there’s this quote from Joe Biden:

“In the Senate, John [McCain] has voted with President Bush 95 percent. And that is very hard to believe.”

The claim isn’t quite right to Dobbs, because, he argued, McCain supported the Bush administration position 95% in 2007, but 90% since Bush took office. As Dobbs sees it, Biden was imprecise, and therefore, the claim is “questionable.”

He then notes this quote from Sarah Palin:

“I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.”

Dobbs explains that Palin “is overstating her opposition.” That’s an exceedingly polite way of saying she isn’t telling the truth at all — Palin supported the bridge project, campaigned on a pledge to build the bridge project, and took the federal money even after the project was scrapped. What’s more, she didn’t “champion reform” of congressional earmarks, Palin hired a lobbyist to help get her town $27 million in pork-barrel projects, some of which were condemned by none other than John McCain.

Just as importantly, the claims about Palin and earmarks have been definitely disproven, but Palin and McCain keep repeating them anyway, making their dishonesty all the more breathtaking.

In the Post’s fact-checking piece, these two claims, Biden’s and Palin’s, are offered as relative equivalents. The reader is left with the impression that all the candidates for national office are fudging and spinning on the campaign trail.

But this is a false equivalency. Biden’s claim is completely accurate — McCain really has voted with Bush 95% of the time. Palin’s claim is complete false — she really didn’t reject earmarks.

Why lump them both together as “questionable claims”?