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Truth-squading the debate

From MSNBC's David Shuster
The biggest point of contention in the debate last night came stemmed from an argument Obama made recently -- the idea that he would take action against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, if that country's leadership won't act. Several candidates criticized Obama on that point... and the fiercest exchange was over what Obama said in his recent speech.

Dodd: "If you're making a mistake today, you ought to stand up and say so. It was a mistake in my view to suggest somehow that going in unilaterally here, into Pakistan, was somehow in our interest." Obama replied: "I did not say that we would immediately go in unilaterally. What I said was that we have to work with Musharraf"

So, who is telling the truth? Judge for yourself. Here is what Obama said last week: "It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."

Dodd was correct about what Obama said... Obama did not say he would work with Musharraf.

***UPDATE*** The Obama campaign, and others, have pointed out that Obama said in that speech he would work with Pakistan -- before and after those words above. However, in the sentence and context of having "actionable intelligence about Al-Qaeda," Obama did not say he would consult with Musharraf if Musharraf failed to act.  Nonetheless, Obama did say the following his speech... "As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan."

Also: "And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope."

In addition, Edwards made several claims about his history of support for unions. "Two-hundred times I have walked on picket lines. I was on a picket line on Saturday. I was on a picket line on Sunday. I have been in organizing campaigns all over this country."

Edwards may have been on 200 picket lines. And he was on a picket line on Saturday. But the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Edwards was on that picket line with striking hotel workers for only ten minutes... The paper also reports that Edwards used the event to film a campaign commercial. At one point, on the picket line, Edwards reportedly stared into the camera of his campaign videographer and said, "I'm John Edwards and I approve this message."

Also, there were a few instances in the forum tonight where the Democrats gave some exaggerated descriptions of the Bush Administration and the Administration's impact on the country. Clinton: "the first thing I would do is put somebody in charge who actually cared about the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. And Biden said this, "We know how badly this president has ruined this country."

The definition of "ruin" is "irreparable damage." It's quite a pessimistic leap to say that the impact of the Administration has been to damage the United States forever, as Joe Biden suggested. As for Clinton, you can argue that the Administration mismanaged the rebuilding of New Orleans. But to say that the person in charge of rebuilding doesn't care is flat wrong, according to the Administration.