Jeffrey LewisWaPo "Fact Checkers" Blow it … Again

Update 12:07. The egregious entry that prompted the blog post appears to have been removed.

I generally have stayed away from the election, since my bias is clear and general elections aren’t really fought on the technical details that readers expect from this blog. I prefer Obama, but he’ll need McCain’s vote for the CTBT (and vice versa, of course).

Which brings me to this morning’s outrage. The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Weisman — the ironically named fact checker, can somebody get this guy a foam trucker hat? — claims that Joe Biden was wrong about McCain voting against the CTBT:

Test Ban Treaty
10:04 p.m.
Sen. Joseph Biden asserted that Sen. John McCain opposed the comprehensive nuclear test ban and that virtually every other Republican supported it. That is false. President Clinton never submitted the test ban for formal ratification because it faced overwhelming Republican opposition in a GOP-controlled Senate.

Yeah, Weisman is wrong, not Biden.

Let’s start with the facts: Clinton submitted the treaty. The Senate voted 51-48 on October 13, 1999 to reject the CTBT (roll call in the comments). McCain voted against it. Here is an excerpt from McCain’s statement:

Mr. President, I will vote against ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This is not a vote I take lightly. I am not ideologically opposed to arms control, having voted to ratify the START Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. But, my concerns about the flaws in this Treaty’s drafting and in the administration’s plan for maintaining the viability of the stockpile leave me no other choice.

I didn’t like McCain’s “no” vote, but it was nuanced and left the door open. He said, during the course of this campaign, he would keep an “open mind” on the treaty. So, he does have a defense.

One thing that Biden did garble — Biden said “every Republican has supported” the CTBT. Most Republicans voted against the treaty. I suspect Biden meant to say “every Republican President, until George W. Bush, has supported” the CTBT. The Clinton Administration always used to say that every President since Eisenhower had sought a test ban and that talking point may have been rattling around in Biden’s noggin’ as a way to link McCain to 43. (I honestly don’t know, but will ask around.)

This is the second howler from the WaPo Fact Checkers on arms control issues that seem intended to make the Obama campaign look wrong, when if fact it was right. This “fact checking” enterprise has zero credibility with me.

In case you wonder whether Weisman is carrying water for the McCain campaign, check this and this.

Weisman doesn’t seem to take criticism very well — he seems to have told Brad DeLong to “f***” himself for suggesting one of his stories was a rewritten White House press release. I am so excited that we may have found a hack with a potty mouth who likes to duke it out in the gutter.

Wanna come play in my neighborhood, Jonny? You can reach me at:

armscontrolwonk [at] gmail.com

Comments

  1. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    YEAS—48
    Akaka
    Baucus
    Bayh
    Biden
    Bingaman
    Boxer
    Breaux
    Bryan
    Chafee
    Cleland
    Conrad
    Daschle
    Dodd
    Dorgan
    Durbin
    Edwards
    Feingold
    Feinstein
    Graham
    Harkin
    Hollings
    Inouye
    Jeffords
    Johnson
    Kennedy
    Kerrey
    Kerry
    Kohl
    Landrieu
    Lautenberg
    Leahy
    Levin
    Lieberman
    Lincoln
    Mikulski
    Moynihan
    Murray
    Reed
    Reid
    Robb
    Rockefeller
    Sarbanes
    Schumer
    Smith (OR)
    Specter
    Torricelli
    Wellstone
    Wyden

    NAYS—51
    Abraham
    Allard
    Ashcroft
    Bennett
    Bond
    Brownback
    Bunning
    Burns
    Campbell
    Cochran
    Collins
    Coverdell
    Craig
    Crapo
    DeWine
    Domenici
    Enzi
    Fitzgerald
    Frist
    Gorton
    Gramm
    Grams
    Grassley
    Gregg
    Hagel
    Hatch
    Helms
    Hutchinson
    Hutchison
    Inhofe
    Kyl
    Lott
    Lugar
    Mack
    McCain
    McConnell
    Murkowski
    Nickles
    Roberts
    Roth
    Santorum
    Sessions
    Shelby
    Smith (NH)
    Snowe
    Stevens
    Thomas
    Thompson
    Thurmond
    Voinovich
    Warner

    ANSWERED `PRESENT’—1

    Byrd

  2. AHM (History)

    Yeah, I was wondering about that when I saw that claim last night. I think you’re right on what Biden meant to say (every Republican—and Democract—in the White House has supported a CTBT since Eisenhower).

  3. Bill (History)

    Looks like “Fact Checker” wisely dropped it because that item is not there now.

  4. Joseph Logan (History)

    It would seem that the WaPo fact checkers are largely out of their element on matters related to arms control. I could be wrong about that.

  5. FSB

    I think having a potty mouth is a good thing, and ad hominem attacks kick ass.

    In fact, I want more potty mouth on ACW like the good old days.

  6. Smith (History)

    You be sure to post the juicy tidbits if you two get into digital fisticuffs.

  7. MTN

    I just was watching the News Hour on PBS, which when listing when the vice presidential candidates had “stretched” the truth” cited word-for-word that “Clinton had not submitted the CTBT to the Senate for ratification because of GOP opposition.” I expected a little more out of the News Hour.

  8. Stephen Schwartz (History)

    It gets even worse. On the PBS “Newshour” this evening, senior correspondent Judy Woodruff recapped the debate and near the end of her segment (audio) accused Biden of “stretch[ing] the truth” by, you guessed it, criticizing McCain for voting against the CTBT.

    “In truth,” said Woodruff, “President Clinton never sent the test ban treaty to Congress for formal ratification because of overwhelming Republican opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate.”

    Gee, I wonder where she got that idea? Apparently nobody at the NewsHour remembered that in 1999 they ran long segments on the CTBT on October 6, 11, 12, and 14. Biden was even one of the guests on October 12. Woodruff was working at CNN at the time, but still.

  9. Chris Ritter (History)

    I don’t want to deflect attention from the CTBT, but the question itself at the VP debate should not be lost. It was, “What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?”

    Gov. Palin got the first crack at it: “Uh, nucular weaponry of course, would be, uh, the be all end all of just, too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes again cannot be allowed to acquire nucular weapons. Period.”

    Who knows how she was trying to answer the question, or was trying not to. Palin did manage to indicate she knows the word but may not be fully in command of the concept of “deterrence” before she changed the subject.

    Sen. Biden responded to Palin’s change-the-subject topic, Afghanistan, and then addressed the CTBT.

    Unfortunately, neither really answered the question, which, if one or the other had, might have led to comments on no first use or the Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations. Sadly, that would be too much to expect of a debate such as this. Kudos to Gwen Ifill, though, for posing a bold, important question.

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