Friday, November 30, 2007

Fact-challeged Rudy Pinocchio

Ah, impudent Pinocchio. Rudy can't help if he's so full of himself that he's bursting with false bravado. He's a self-aggrandizing Republican. And that's what wingnuts do -- mislead to glorify themselves, to make themselves bigger than life.

Today, Michael Cooper at NYTimes bluntly reports: Citing Statistics, Giuliani Misses Time and Again (with emphasis)

In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.
Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was “the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.” In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York “had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.” When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that “under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”
All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record.
For instance, another major American city claims to have reduced crime every year since 1994: Chicago. New York averaged 1,514 murders a year during the three decades before Mr. Giuliani took office; it did not record more than 1,800 homicides until 1980. And Mr. Giuliani’s own memoir states that spending grew an average of 3.7 percent for most of his tenure; an aide said Mr. Giuliani had meant to say that he had proposed a 7 percent reduction in per capita spending during his time as mayor.
Facts and figures are often the striking centerpieces of Mr. Giuliani’s arguments. He has always had a penchant for statistics — his anticrime strategy as mayor was built around a system known as Compstat that closely tracked crimes to focus law enforcement efforts. On the campaign trail he often wields data, without notes, with prosecutorial zeal to hammer home his points.
[Keep reading...]

Reality and facts aren't Rudy's forte but he sure likes to paint himself as a hero even if he must -- and he must -- bend the truth:
An examination of many of his statements by The New York Times, other news organizations and independent groups have turned up a variety of misstatements, virtually all of which cast Mr. Giuliani or his arguments in a better light. “He’s given us a lot of work up until now,” said Brooks Jackson, the director of Annenberg Political Fact Check, which is part of, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that has corrected statements by candidates in both parties.
But, of course, Rudy can't be blamed for polishing his mayoral performance into a shining presidential facsimile if you believe his cheerleading squad. After all, that's what an ambitious Pinocchio does. Oh, Rudy so wants to grow up to be a real president! He's so desperate to come to life in the Oval Office that he'll say anything even if it's untrue.

On cue, Rudy's Geppettos defended his hyperbolic tendency:
Aides to Mr. Giuliani dismiss questions about his use of statistics as nitpicking, arguing that no one can dispute the big points he makes by using the statistics: that crime dropped significantly during his tenure, say, or that he worked to restrain spending in New York.
Au contraire! First, crime was already dropping significantly long before Rudy took office as Greg Sargent illustrated in a handy chart covering 1994--2004. Harper's quoting criminologist Franklin Zimring found:
...Giuliani’s claims to be self-serving. First, [Zimring] said, during Giuliani’s time as mayor criminal activity was declining nationwide. Homicide, rape, burglary and automobile theft all dropped between 37 and 41 percent in the 1990s, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports—all the result of social and policy changes that were taking place in New York and in the nation at large. Thus, according to Zimring, at least half—and as much as three-quarters—of that drop in New York crime “would have happened if Rudy Giuliani had never been born.”
And why, if Rudy was so fiscally responsible, did Mayor Bloomberg inherit a $4 billion deficit?

Will Giuliani repent his fuzzy math and serial exaggerations?

I doubt it. John W. Dean wrote in Conservatives Without Conscience (p. 26):
A close study of conservatives reveals an interesting trait: These people do not see themselves as they actually are, but rather as something very different. In short, they seem to have little facility for self-analysis.
Rudy has too much invested in his towering image and friends in high places who pull strings to fashion him into a leading GOP presidential contender.

Furthermore, the Beltway press loves to perpetuate myths during their cocktail weenie parties where they can sample hot hors d'oeuvres: "WMDs anyone?" They love dramatic story lines regardless whether they're true or not. Just like Rudy.