John McCain recently attacked Obama after Obama had focused on the deficiencies of Bush's foreign policy with the statement that he would meet, for example, with the leaders of Iran without any preconditions.
Looks like a job for PolitiFact.
In trying to portray Sen. Barack Obama as a neophyte when it comes to international relations, Sen. John McCain seized on some comparisons Obama made between the relative threat of Iran now vs. the Soviet Union during the Cold War.If I were into minor points, "seized on" is rather prejudicial language. Let's just say that it doesn't particularly fit the paradigm of objective news reporting. But the PolitiFudging hasn't really even started yet.
Uh--where did McCain supposedly claim that Obama characterized the threat from Iran as tiny or insignificant?
The first part of McCain’s recap of Obama’s quote puts the context accurately, that Obama noted the threat from Iran was tiny “compared to the threat once posed by the Soviet Union.”
But McCain veers off the rails when he takes the next step, claiming that Obama characterized the threat from Iran as tiny or insignificant. Obama never said that.
Here is how PolitiFact reported McCain's words:
“Senator Obama claimed that the threat Iran poses to our security is ‘tiny’ compared to the threat once posed by the former Soviet Union,” McCain said before the National Restaurant Association in Chicago on May 19, 2008. “Obviously, Iran isn’t a superpower and doesn’t possess the military power the Soviet Union had. But that does not mean that the threat posed by Iran is insignificant."That is at most an implication that Obama called the Iranian threat insignificant. But finding that implication demands that McCain be read less than charitably. Happily for those with a liberal bent, PolitiFact is up to that task.
“On the contrary, right now Iran provides some of the deadliest explosive devices used in Iraq to kill our soldiers. They are the chief sponsor of Shia extremists in Iraq, and terrorist organizations in the Middle East. ... Should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, that danger would become very dire, indeed. They might not be a superpower, but the threat the government of Iran poses is anything but ‘tiny.’ ”
How should one charitably read McCain?
Obama emphasized that since talking to the Soviet Union took place despite the USSR's considerable nuclear and conventional firepower that therefore talking with a less threatening foe makes good sense. Read with only modest charity, McCain addressed Obama's point directly: Iran, despite its relative weakness in conventional military terms, serves as a major threat because of its rogue nature and willingness to use terrorism. McCain is saying the same thing that PolitiFact notes that Obama admits about Iran, and proceeded after the comments quoted by PolitiFact to use that point to undermine Obama's rationale for having unconditional meetings with Iran.
"... is anything but tiny.
Senator Obama has, Senator Obama has declared, and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the President of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American Presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union. Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment. These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess. An ill conceived meeting between the President of the United States and the President of Iran, and the massive world media coverage it would attract, would increase the prestige of an implacable foe of the United States, and reinforce his confidence that Iran's dedication to acquiring nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and destroying the State of Israel had succeeded in winning concessions from the most powerful nation on earth. And he's unli- unlikely to abandon the dangerous ambitions that will have given him a prominent role on the world stage."
(The Hotline at National Journal)
Let me emphasize the point again. McCain no more claimed that Obama said the threat from Iran was tiny than Obama said the threat from Iran was tiny. If PolitiFact flunks McCain's truthfulness on that point--and they did, just one notch above "Pants-on-Fire"--then they should equally flunk their own truthfulness. But of course they won't. At most you'll see a correction minus the stupid graphic implying an immoral twisting of the truth. And probably not even that.But the ineptitude at PolitiFact gets even more stupefying in this entry. The authors (Update: actually just Robert Farley, unless we count his editor) found a source saying that the threat from Iran is actually worse than the threat from the Soviet Union because Iran cannot presently be regarded as a rational actor.
PolitiFact has apparently succeeded in proving that one of Obama's statements, that the threat from Iraq is tiny compared to that of the Soviet Union, is less than true. Don't expect it to warrant its own entry, even though it helps make McCain's point (according to PolitiFact) that Obama is a foreign policy neophyte.
Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, Dale said, while unapologetically supporting terrorist groups like Hamas, who would have little hesitation about setting off a nuclear weapon in the United States.
“You could definitely say it’s more dangerous than the Cold War,” he said.
This is amazing stuff. A publication that is supposedly set up to separate fact from fiction completely flubs the judgment on McCain and overlooks its opportunity to shine the light of truth on Barack Obama. Granted, the information is buried in the item for those with the inclination and wherewithall to dig it out--but the cheesy Truth-O-Meter proclaims McCain false and renders no judgment on Obama in this case. People will believe the graphic.
Writer/researcher Robert Farley gets the credit (blame) for this one, if I interpret the credits properly.