First let's get the obvious out of the way. It's not a secret to many readers here that yours truly's opinion (and not that of NewsBusters or MRC) is that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney would be a completely unacceptable candidate. For those who didn't know that, now you do.
Nonetheless, when Romney says things which are either definitely or arguably true and Associated Press "fact checkers" Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn make a point of asserting otherwise as if they get the final word, a defense is necessary.
In their "fact check" piece, the AP pair, with the help of two other contributors, disputed five statements Romney made in his campaign kickoff speech. By my count, Romney is definitely right on three, one items is a split decision, and the wire service should be considered fully correct in just one instance.
The most important of AP's "fact check" errors is its headlined determination ("Romney miscasts economy in GOP debut") that Romney was wrong when he said the following: "When he (Barack Obama) took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse. And he made it last longer." The AP pair's counterargument is truly pathetic:
The gross domestic product, the prime measure of economic strength, shrank by a severe 6.8 percent annual rate before Obama became president. The declines eased after he took office and economic growth, however modest, resumed.
... A case can be made for and against the idea that Obama's policies made the economy worse than it needed to be and that the recession lasted longer than it might have under another president. Such arguments are at the core of political debate. But Obama did not, as Romney alleged, make the economy worse than it was when he took office.
AP is conceding the possibility that Romney's "made it last longer" argument might be correct. Mitt is certainly entitled to his opinion in this matter, and in believing that the recession could have ended earlier, he's far from alone.
Now let's look at the candidate's claim that Obama made the economy "worse." As seen above, the AP's entire counterargument is that the economy is currently "bigger" than it was in January 2009, and the debate is over. Horse manure.
While that's true (pending revisions) that the economy grew by almost 7% between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011 , "bigger" (and objectively true or false term) is not the same as "better" (a judgmental term which must be weighed on the available evidence, after which sincere people may still disagree). In fact, Democrats throughout the Reagan and Bush 43 growth years were constantly arguing that the economy was "worse" for any number of specious (and often factually wrong) reasons, ranging from "the rich are getting richer" to "the new jobs are McJobs" to the creation of so-called "urban sprawl" to "minorities and the poor are being left behind," blah-blah-blah.
The evidence that today's economy is "worse" than it was in January 2011 -- evidence which I believe most people would agree clearly support that contention -- is mountainous (all figures are seasonally adjusted from the government's Household Survey unless otherwise indicated):
I believe that economy's marginally larger size in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2009 is far more than offset by the negative factors just cited. I believe that the vast majority of Americans presented with the complete set of information just noted would agree.
The AP's Woodward and Kuhnhenn almost seem to believe that Mitt Romney shouldn't even be allowed to hold the subjective but highly evidence-supported opinion that the economy is worse, and that it's the policies of the Obama administration which has made it so.
On AP's first criticism, it's the former Massachusetts governor in a rout.
Romney 1, AP 0.
Part 2 will go up later this evening.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.