How do you get Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to run — or at least walk very quickly — in heels? Well, according to CNN’s Dana Bash, just ask her why she spread blatant misinformation at her CPAC speech regarding how much money is spent on what by the White House. And it’s not the first time she’s lied about the White House’s financial information, either. During her CPAC speech, Michele Bachmann claimed that President Barack Obama’s White House yearly spending, which is around 1.4 billion dollars, is being used by the First Family to live like royalty. The exact phrase she uses to describe their presidential lifestyle is a “life of excess,” and she quotes misleading things such as “there are five chefs aboard Air Force 1.” She also directly lies, saying that tax dollars go to paying someone to walk the dog. In reality, the groundskeeper walks the dog, just as he has done for the last eight administrations. He’s a dog-lover, so I can relate.
In actuality, most of the money spent by the White House has nothing at all to do with the President. At least, not directly. Instead, as revealed by the White House spending during the Bush regime, over a billion dollars of that money goes to the Secret Service and helicopters. And where did the congresswoman get her information? In a self-published book by a Republican lobbyist that doesn’t even have any citations. That’s the height of intellectual dishonesty.
Unfortunately, that seems to be becoming more popular in partisan debates. It’s as if politicians, especially conservatives that are frustrated with the Democratic victories in the polls, think that ideology and passion are interchangeable with facts, and that simply isn’t the way it is. Here’s the video from Mediaite:
The myth that the White House is spending way more than it should is something that the right-wing has tried to propagate somewhat successfully among its constituents during the last few years. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hold water when it comes down to the actual facts. That’s when they get Fox to bleat about the “liberal media,” which is actually just journalists being honest and reporting the facts (well, sometimes). In fact, Obama’s White House spends 200 million less per year than President Bush’s did, but you don’t hear Bachmann trumpeting about this trend in presidential spending. Once again, despicable dishonesty.
But it won’t come as much of a shock to any Bachmannphile to learn that some of the claims she made in the speech are the opposite of true. It turns out they’re mostly based on a self-published book with few citations written by a longtime Republican lobbyist whom the New York Times once compared to Darth Vader.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has done yeoman’swork in debunking the claims, but even his mighty fact checking is no match for The Bachmann: “There really aren’t enough Pinocchios for such misleading use of statistics in a major speech,” he lamented, sighing heavily over his keyboard as he gazed blankly out the window (we imagine).
For instance: Bachmann almost gets the dollar figure of running the White House correct, but the vast majority of that goes to Secret Service, not perks; Bachmann claims Bo Obama has a full-time dog handler, but he doesn’t, White House groundskeeper Dale Haney has voluntarily walked every presidential dog since Nixon’s (he likes dogs); she says Air Force One has five chefs, but it’s more like cooks, and White House staffers need to pay — $20 per meal — out of their own pockets to eat; she claims 70 percent of the money spent on food stamps goes to bureaucrats, which just isn’t close to true.
Once again, we really have to recommend watching CNN’s coverage and commentary as well, via Anderson Cooper and CNN’s Dana Bash.
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