John Edwards: No paragon of truth

Since we’ve been deluged with “Cheney lied. He really DID meet w/ John Edwards before, dammit!” posts on liberal blogs all over the blogosphere, I thought I’d level the playing field a bit with some Edwards’ lies and distortions. Now, we’ve been told in so many words that once the American people find out about Cheney’s lie about not meeting Edwards prior to the debate (coupled with some other lies/distortions that are also pointed out in most of the links I’ll be using here) that it will turn people off from the Bush/Cheney ticket en masse come election time. I wonder if the lies and distortions John Edwards told last night at the debate will do the same to the Kerry/Edwards ticket? I’ll go ahead and provide the link to the debate transcript from last night and henceforth refer to any quotes contained within that link to as “EFTD” (Edwards, From The Debate). Let’s get started:

1) EFTD: “While they were on the ground fighting, they lobbied the Congress to cut their combat pay. This is the height of hypocrisy.”

Fact: Edwards twice accused the administration of having “lobbied the Congress” to cut the combat pay of troops in Iraq, when in fact the White House never supported such a plan. Rather, the Defense Department proposed allowing a temporary pay increase for all troops worldwide (even those not in Iraq or Afghanistan) to expire, and promised to maintain current pay levels for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with separate pay raises if necessary.

2) EFTD: “But we had Osama bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora. We had the 10th Mountain Division up in Uzbekistan available. We had the finest military in the world on the ground. And what did we do? We turned – this is the man who masterminded the greatest mass murder and terrorist attack in American history. And what did the administration decide to do? They gave the responsibility of capturing and/or killing Saddam – I mean Osama bin Laden to Afghan warlords who, just a few weeks before, had been working with Osama bin Laden.”

Fact: Kerry said U.S. forces allowed Osama bin Laden to escape in 2001 during the battle at Tora Bora in Afghanistan because the administration “outsourced” fighting to Afghan “warlords.” Actually, it’s never been clear whether bin Laden actually was at Tora Bora. It is true that military leaders strongly suspected bin Laden was there, and it is also true that the Pentagon relied heavily on Afghan forces to take on much of the fighting at Tora Bora in an effort to reduce US casualties. But Kerry overstates the case by stating flatly that “we had him surrounded.”

3) EFTD: “…the country needs to know that under what they have put in place and want to put in place, a millionaire sitting by their swimming pool, collecting their statements to see how much money they’re making, make their money from dividends, pays a lower tax rate than the men and women who are receiving paychecks for serving on the ground in Iraq.”

Fact: President Bush last year cut the tax rate on dividends to 15 percent, whereas most soldiers would be in a 15 percent tax bracket — and pay an effective rate much less after taking deductions for children and mortgages.

=”” target=”_blank”>4) EFTD and Fact: At one point, Edwards attacked Cheney for the administration’s decision to give billions of dollars in new contracts in Iraq to Halliburton Co., which the vice president once headed. But congressional auditors recently concluded U.S. officials met legal guidelines in awarding the business without competition in part because Halliburton was the only company capable of doing some of the work.

5) EFTD: “The first Gulf War cost America $5 billion. We’re at $200 billion and counting.”

Fact: Edwards, by repeating Kerry’s assertion that the war in Iraq had cost $200 billion, also stretched the bottom line. Edwards counted money to be spent in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. The cost of the war to date has been slightly more than $120 billion, according to budget officials cited by, a nonpartisan website sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.

6) EFTD: “He [Cheney] voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King.”

Fact: Actually – and perhaps to paraphrase Kerry – Cheney voted against the King federal holiday before he voted for it. The first vote was in 1979, and Cheney’s ‘no’ vote helped block the holiday from becoming law. He voted ‘yes’ in 1983, when the new holiday passed.

Follow his nose … it always grows ….