True but False

President Obama’s friends at the Washington Post have, very diffidently, called him out on his recent false statements on oil. After noting that he was repeating the misleading statements in “every energy speech,” they mildly warned that if he continued to make the same statements, he could mislead his audience. They very carefully called his statements “True but False.”

The Pinocchio Test

This is a strange case because the facts are technically correct but are used in service of fuzzy thinking. The president should drop this fact, or alter it as we suggested, or he runs the risk of misleading Americans about the extent of the U.S. oil resources.

He is especially on shaky ground when he says “no matter what we do, it’s not going to get much above 3 percent.” The estimate of proven oil reserves may change at any moment depending on technological innovations and the price of oil. As we demonstrated, it is largely irrelevant to the supply of U.S. oil that is likely to be recovered — or how much oil the United States has left to consume. The president could also be embarrassed if the EIA suddenly boosts the figure for proven oil reserves.

For the moment, we will label the president’s statement with our rarely used category: TRUE BUT FALSE

Indeed, that category is rarely used. It doesn’t even show up on their list of categories linked under the statement.

But it has been used before, mostly in the service of statements by or about Barack Obama.

One could argue that the Washington Post is being very objective in even mentioning something that President Obama got wrong. Perhaps this is true, but as they noted in the piece, they were being barraged by people asking about it, and ignoring it might have made things worse. As it is, it would take someone completely partisan and willing to ignore facts to suggest that Barack Obama was absolutely correct and fair in his statements.

In related news, the DailyKos argues that Barack Obama was absolutely correct and fair in his statements.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle