Does Anyone Fact-Check the President?

Over the years, we have been struck repeatedly by how often President Obama is wrong. Not how often we disagree with him, but how often he is just plain wrong, on matters of history, science and so on. Obama has a blithe willingness to assert false propositions of fact, apparently without fear of correction. I suppose that is because the Democratic press has little incentive to point out his errors.

Let’s note two instances from a single town hall appearance in South Carolina yesterday. The first related to climate. Obama, while defending his Keystone veto, said:

The pattern overall is that the climate is getting warmer. That’s undeniable.

Far from being undeniable, the claim that “the climate is getting warmer” is false. Satellite measurements show that there has been no warming for around 18 years, a fact that has caused great consternation among climate alarmists:

In 2009, Kevin Trenberth, one of the leading alarmist scientists, wrote in an email: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Is Obama ignorant of the facts, or is he a deliberate science-denier? You be the judge.

During the same town hall, Obama lamented his inability to get gun control legislation through Congress:

Increased gun control measures would go a long way toward cutting down on America’s homicide rate, President Obama said during a town-hall event on Friday.

“Our homicide rates are so much larger than other industrialized countries, by like a mile,” he said during a speech at Benedict College in South Carolina.

“Most of that is attributable to the easy, ready availability of firearms, particularly handguns.”

There are two things wrong with Obama’s claims. First, the homicide rate in the United States is relatively low, and falling. The World Bank has compiled homicide rates by country; most are higher than ours, some many times higher. To be sure, some “industrialized” countries have lower rates than we do. Norway, for example, has a murder rate that is only a fraction of ours. But the reasons are entirely demographic: I would wager that the homicide rate among Norwegian-Americans is even lower than Norway’s.

Obama is also wrong in asserting that America’s homicide rate is attributable to the “ready availability of firearms, particularly handguns.” In fact, our homicide rate is only half what it was during the Clinton administration, even though handgun ownership has exploded over that time period. More guns have been associated with less homicide, and less crime generally. Further, international experience shows that there is zero correlation between gun laws and homicide rates. To take one obvious example, Venezuela’s socialist government has banned the private ownership of firearms and ammunition. Nevertheless, according to the World Bank data, Venezuela’s homicide rate is more than ten times that of the United States.

Barack Obama is not the only Pinocchio in political life, but more than any other public figure I can think of, he seems to think he is entitled to make up his own facts. That sense of entitlement probably results from the press’s unwillingness to point out his many errors.