On NBC's extended Meet the Press presidential debate on Sunday, Boston News Channel 7 political editor Andy Hiller strongly hinted to Gov. Rick Perry that he should be civil and agree that Barack Obama is a patriot in line with the Founding Fathers, citing a line from Sen. John McCain in The Washington Post. Hiller did not explain the occasion for McCain's overt Obama flattery -- the Gabby Giffords shooting -- and utterly omitted McCain's very next line, about rejecting similar attacks on conservative Obama critics.
Hiller asked Perry: "Your party's last nominee, John McCain, wrote in The Washington Post in an op-ed about a year ago, his words, 'I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals.' Agree?"
Here's the very next line about Obama critics: "And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them." He also left out McCain's inclusion of the media in that criticism: "There are too many occasions when we lack that empathy and mutual respect on all sides of our politics, and in the media."
For his part, Perry kept from falling down laughing as he disagreed with the notion that the Obama presidency is vigorously in line with the tradition of the Founding Fathers. "I make a very proud statement and a fact that we have a president that's a socialist. I don't think our Founding Fathers wanted America to be a socialist country. So I disagree with that premise that somehow or another that President Obama reflects our Founding Fathers."
Naturally, the website PolitiFact ranked Perry as a "Pants on Fire" liar for stating Obama is a socialist -- using the very strict definition about government owning the means of production. (And Obama didn't take over the automobile companies?) They cited "conservative" Bruce Bartlett as their expert:
After the debate, PolitiFact National explored the question of whether Obama is in fact a socialist, comparing the president's tax policies and major initiatives with this definition of socialism: support for "governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." The upshot: Obama policies such as the health care law and the economic stimulus add up to flimsy evidence for even beginning to show that he's a socialist.
Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett told PolitiFact: "Socialism means public ownership of the means of production. Obama does not believe this. Therefore he is not a socialist. … Although it is true that the federal government did come to own some private businesses as a consequence of bailout policies initiated by the George W. Bush administration such as (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), the Obama administration sold many of them — such as its shares in GM — as quickly as feasible. A true socialist would have held on to them."
Put to the Truth-O-Meter, Perry’s claim rates as ridiculous. Obama's policies may have expanded government, but they don't justify the hyperbole of Perry’s charge. Pants on Fire!