It is often said that "truth is the first casualty of war." Political parties today look quite a bit like warring factions and very little like a constructive part of informed debate and policy making today. I think we would all prefer that elections be a celebration of democratic principles, regardless of who wins, rather than the melees they currently resemble. But most of us sit by and do very little to clean up this mess.
If you are Internet savvy enough to have found this blog (and I thank you for doing so), then you are almost certain to have come across FactCheck.Org. I have to admire any organization willing to insert itself into this process and try to separate fact from fiction. Here's the most recent (from October 21) post:
$8 Million Worth Of Distortions
Two Bush ads full of misleading and false statements ran more than 9,000 times in 45 cities last week.
You can watch the two ads. You get a summary. You get an analysis, in which FactCheck.Org assesses each assertion made in the ads. You even get sources and related articles. FactCheck.Org is trying to walk a very difficult path: it tries to be politically neutral when it can and politically balanced when it cannot be neutral. In the spirit of a good Internet entity, it updates its work if new information comes to light. Some of its posts are actually correcting facts, sometimes it goes a little further to "complete the picture." I thought it got this one on Social Security right (and I'll blog more on Social Security later):
Kerry Falsely Claims Bush Plans To Cut Social Security Benefits
It's not Bush's plan, and it wouldn't cut benefits.
So kudos to FactCheck.Org for holding politicians a bit more accountable in an open and non-partisan way. Now who wants to do the same thing for newspapers?