I have several friends of the Republican persuasion who think Obama’s a big fat liar. If I point out Romney’s truth-challenged statements, they make excuses or—if really pressed—retreat into the “all politicians lie” position. (The latter is inarguable, of course, but only because research shows that everyone lies.) So I thought it might be worth putting Romney’s and Obama’s latest PolitiFact ratings (as of July 7, 2012) side by side. With all its bells and whistles, PolitiFact’s Web site mysteriously doesn’t seem to allow such a comparison.
As you can see, Romney’s statements are judged less true than Obama’s overall, and 9% of Romney’s statements earn a “Pants on Fire” rating (that is, they are judged to be egregious lies) compared with Obama’s 1% rating. Out of the 379 statements by Obama that PolitiFact examined, over 46% were judged True or Mostly True, while of Romney’s 140 statements, only 31% were judged True or Mostly True. There were 28% of Obama statements judged Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire, with Romney’s statements coming in at 41%. I’ve skipped the category of “Half True” in the above because it seems too subjective to me: if a statement is half true, it must also be half false. Still, Romney had 28% of his statements judged Half True, while Obama came in with slightly less at 25%.
The devil’s in the details, of course, and one could spend a good long time on PolitiFact parsing and praising or disputing these ratings. But the overall picture is clear: Romney lies more often than Obama. We’ll see how all this plays out in the debates….