The pants-on-fire party

Check out Politifact’s “pants-on-fire” list to find out which party lies more. It’s not even close.

I just checked through Politifact’s invaluable compilation of political statements that received its coveted “pants-on-fire” rating since the beginning of the Obama Administration.  How many, I wondered, were from Republicans or conservatives, and how many were from Democrats or liberals?

It’s not even close.

Republican/Conservative pants-on-fire lies: 27

Democratic/Liberal pants-on-fire lies: 2

And that is actually generous to the GOP.  One egregious Democratic lie is from Obama, who said that if you added up the numbers, the United States would be one of the world’s largest Muslim countries.  Completely untrue, but the significance of it is zero.  The other is Joe Biden’s statement that when someone sneezes on an airplane, it goes all the way to the back of the aircraft.  Also totally wrong, but it’s hard to argue that this was done out of political motives or even had any political effect.

Contrast these with Rush Limbaugh’s lie that Obama wants to mandate circumcision, or Newt Gingrich’s lie that the stimulus bill “is anti-Christian legislation that will stop churches from using public schools for meeting on Sundays, as well as Boy Scouts and student Bible study groups.”

Indeed, the list at times looks like a conservative movement Hall of Fame: Gingrich, Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Steve King, Eric Cantor, and of course, Betsy McCaughey.

Just to cover myself, several of the Republican lies were from chain e-mails, not Republican politicians, but they are clearly designed for conservative political purposes.

Now, I’m sure that Republican operatives will just respond that Politifact is a liberal front.  But that would be . . . a lie.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “The pants-on-fire party”

  1. Are we counting the lies from liberal pundits too or just those on the right?

    Maybe you should take a look at what comes out of Nancy Pelosi's mouth.

  2. I like the fact that JZ cited specific examples of prevarications. A general statement about things coming out of someone's mouth leaves me wondering what, specifically, the person said.

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