Fact Checking the South Carolina Debate


The South Carolina debate got heated (as seen in the above video) but primarily covered material which has already been discussed in recent posts. I’ll briefly summarize some of the key controversies with links to further material. (Obama also responded to similar issues on Good Morning America with video posted here. Many of these issues were also reviewed by The Washington Post, which I discussed in this post.)

Ronald Reagan

The controversy began after Obama’s comments in this interview were distorted as discussed here. Also noted is that Hillary Clinton is on record for making comments more favorable about Ronald Reagan than anything Obama actually said. John Edwards’ contribution to the Ronald Reagan fan club is posted here. Obama explained what he actually said here. The key point is that Obama was speaking about Reagan’s role as a transformative president. He spoke of Republican ideas, but did not say he supported these ideas as his rivals have falsely claimed. The actual interview contains a number of ideas which are quite different from anything Ronald Reagan would have advocated.

Voting Present

Voting present is a common practice in the Illinois legislature and the meaning of this has been distorted by Clinton as I previously discussed here. The American Prospect called this attack a recycled Republican talking point. While some of the votes involved abortion rights, Political Radar noted that “We at Planned Parenthood view those as leadership votes.” The New York Times further described the use of voting present in the Illinois Legislature. The Chicago Tribune explained how “Disparagement of Obama votes doesn’t hold up.”


Clinton tries to down play the significance of Obama’s opposition to the war before it started while Clinton supported the war. What really matters is who had the better judgment in knowing whether to go to war, with Obama realizing it was a mistake. Comparing their votes once they were both in the Senate only confuses the issue by comparing apples and oranges. The decision to go to war had already been made by the time Obama was in the Senate and Obama’s votes to fund the war did not signify that he supported the decision to go to war. Besides, Clinton can hardly argue that Obama’s votes on funding were wrong when she voted the same way. The question that matters, and the decision they differed on, is not these funding votes but the decision to go to war in the first place.

I’ve written more on Bill Clinton’s distortions of the issue here. Other aspects of the controversy are discussed in this post on John Kerry’s support for Obama. This includes why Obama played down the IWR vote before speaking at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have tried to claim that they also opposed the war, but the facts show otherwise. For example, the post also contrasts the views of John Kerry with Hillary Clinton noting that while both voted yes on the IWR, Kerry spoke out against going to war before the war started while Clinton did not express her opposition until much later, casting doubt on her rewriting of history.

Obama’s Health Care Plan

One defense of Obama’s health care plan came from former Clintonite Robert Reich, which I quoted here. Others such as The New York Times are quoted here. I used ideas used by the Medicare program to provide an example of how Obama’s plan could work without a mandate back in December. Obama made a similar argument later in the month. Obama’s success in achieving health reform in the Illinois legislature was discussed here.

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  1. 1
    Ron says:

    I was really concerned when Hillary Clinton mentioned that she believed that a core Democratic belief was Universal Healthcare. Never in the history of this nation has someone tied such a liberal agenda to this country. Although it is ideal give everyone in this country health coverage, we cannot afford it for the following reasons:
    1. In order to pay for it, we would need to raise taxes.
    2. If we did not raise taxes, then the government will have to undergo deficit spending and therefore increase our national debt. Then we can have even more fun with higher grocery, gas, and other prices (don’t worry, your grandchildren will face this).
    3. Not everyone will be “covered.” People will have to purchase supplemental insurance because the government won’t cover everything.

    So if you are interested in another big government spending project larger than Social Security then vote Hillary. Unfortunately, she has not come up with an idea that will save Social Security and what makes everyone think that if she can’t handle that single issue that she will be successful with healthcare this time around.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    By having universal health care she was not talking about the government providing health care for everyone. Most would still be covered by their current programs. As she advocates a mandate to require people to purchase coverage, this will also add to the number of insured people without adding to government costs.

    There will still be increased government costs to her plan, primarily due to subsidies for those who cannot afford to purchase coverage. To some degree society already does subsidize these people by cost shifting to programs such as Medicare. While this is a big government program, it would not be larger than Social Security, and most likely could be financed by rolling back the Bush tax cuts to those making over $250,000 as opposed to tax increase for everyone.

    There are still arguments against this, but the argument here does overstate the objections.

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