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
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.
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