5 sep. 2008

Giuliani and Huckebee Show the Meaning of "Strait Talk" at the Republican Convention

Georgia on Their Minds

Before Palin took the stage, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the evening's keynote speaker, gave a factually challenged account of how Obama and McCain had responded to the Georgia-Russia conflict.
First, he said that “within hours” McCain had “established a very strong, informed position that let the world know exactly how he’ll respond as president. At exactly the right time, John McCain said, ‘We’re all Georgians.’

McCain did release a strongly worded statement on the conflict on Aug. 8, the day reports of violence first surfaced, but he didn’t say, “We’re all Georgians” until four days later.
Giuliani went on to criticize Obama, saying his “first instinct was to create a moral equivalency — that ‘both sides’ should ‘show restraint.’ ”

It’s true Obama’s initial statement said, “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war,” and McCain called on Russia to “unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.”
It’s worth noting, however, that Obama’s words echoed those of White House press secretary Dana Perino, who said on Aug. 8, “we urge restraint on all sides – that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences.” Early reports also said Georgia may have triggered the outbreak of fighting. We’ll leave it to readers to judge which candidate took the right tack.
Giuliani then said Obama “changed his position and suggested that the U.N. Security Council could find a solution. Apparently, none of his 300 advisers told him that Russia has a veto on any U.N. action.” But Obama’s very first statement called for U.N. Security Council action – and so did McCain’s.

Obama, Aug. 8: …the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

McCain, Aug. 8: The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course.

Apparently, McCain doesn’t share Giuliani’s concern for Russia’s veto power either. In fact, in his third statement on Aug. 11, McCain said: "The United States and our allies should continue efforts to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council condemning Russian aggression. … We should move ahead with the resolution despite Russian veto threats, and submit Russia to the court of world public opinion.”

Giuliani wrapped up his account by saying, “Finally Obama put out a statement that looked ... well, it looked a lot like John McCain's.” It’s true that Obama’s statements became more forceful – as did McCain's – but Obama was calling for Russia to “stop its bombing campaign” and “withdraw its ground forces from Georgia” in his second statement, as well as his third.

Naked Gun

Giuliani also bungled a reference to McCain's Navy record:

Giuliani: And being a "Top Gun" kind of guy, he became a fighter pilot.

Actually, McCain wasn't a fighter pilot at all, much less "top gun" among that very specialized group. McCain was a bomber pilot, and he himself makes this clear on page 173 of his book "Faith of my Fathers": "I trained exclusively in the A-4 Skyhawk, the small bomber that I would soon fly in combat missions." The aircraft is formally called a "Light Attack Bomber" by Boeing, successor to McDonnell-Douglas, the company that made it. It's true that a few A-4s were flown by the Navy Fighter Weapons School at Miramar, California – but they played the role of "bogies," which the fighter pilots in training were supposed to intercept and shoot down.

Giuliani might be forgiven for his mistake, as he never served in the military himself.

Too Good to Check?

The biggest whopper of the night may have come from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who charged that Palin “got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.” It may sound like a great line, but it’s not true – not even close. Palin garnered 651 votes in 1996 and 909 votes in 1999 in her two races for mayor of Wasilla, according to the city. Biden, despite withdrawing from the race after the Iowa caucus, got 79,754 votes in the Democratic primaries.