The bad thing about these GOP debates is that multiple candidates offer so much data that the average viewer is awash in information and it's often tough to digest or even assess what's fact and what's fiction.
The good thing is there's FactCheck.org, a non-partisan watchdog group run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn. It is invaluable given that most regular media have neither the resources nor the inclination to focus on much beyond the horserace.
So, here's a sample from FactCheck's take on the two weekend debates in New Hampshire.
Frontrunner Mitt Romney pressed a populist argument that government's too big and taxes "too high." Fine. But he went on to claim that under President Kennedy, government "consumed 27 percent of our economy, about a quarter. Today it consumes 37 percent of our economy...and our Democrat friends want us to just keep raising taxes."
FactCheck, however, notes that tax reciepts during Kennedy's presidency were never higher than 26.4 percent of the economy and that, based on current U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, the figure today is 27.4 percent.
I guess if facts don't fit the narrative, the Mitt plan simply changes them.
Rick Santorum ran a rant on Romney for saying he wants to help the "middle class," a term Santorum said, "I shrink from." Rick added, "There are no classes in America...we don't put people in classes...that's not the language I'll use as president. I'll use the language of bringing people together."
Problem is Santorum's campaign literature says Rick wants tax breaks for "middle-class Americans." (You can read it here, just scroll down a little to the "fighting" for fiscal sanity section.)
I guess his shrinkage is situational.
Most candidates fumbled an easy, closing question in Saturday night's debate. They were asked what they'd likely be doing at the moment if not seeking the presidency.
Newt said he'd be home "watching the college championship basketball game." Santorum corrected him, saying "football game," and added he'd be home with his family "huddled around, and we'd be watching the championship game." Mitt just said "football...I love it."
Problem is the college championship basketball game Newt wanted to be watching is in the spring and the championship football game Rick wanted to be watching is tonight. Mitt, proving ever-facile, was vague enough to get by because there was an NFL playoff game (Saints/Lions) Saturday night.
Proving, I guess, that Newt and Rick are not as slick, which is maybe one reason Mitt wears the frontrunner mantle.
Anyway, candidates say a lot of things (and that includes Obama), so as the campaign moves on, I highly recommend checking with FactCheck, and on a regular basis.
It's bound to make you grrrrr.