The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.
For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.
Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.
But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.
Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.
Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.
“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.
And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”
“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons.
“I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team”
In 2014, Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not “specifically” referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But The Fact Checker obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with the New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.
But the Post did leave out some key falsehoods recited by Obama over the years. Here are a few:
“Over the past eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas.”
Playing a semantics game, Obama misrepresented the fact that there have been many terrorist attacks carried out on American soil by those with ties to foreign terrorist organizations. In fact, in the case of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting in Killeen, Texas, Major Nidal Hasan murdered 14 people on the military base while shouting “allahu akbar” and was shown to be in direct contact with Al Qaeda terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki prior to the attack.
ISIS themselves also claimed responsibility for a 2015 attack in Garland, Texas, when two men were taken down by police officers after they shot up a community center hosting a Muhammad cartoon contest.
Over the last eight years, there were even more terrorist-related attacks in the country, including the San Bernardino attack, Boston Marathon attack, and a 2009 Little Rock, Arkansas, attack when Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shot two soldiers at a military recruiting station. Muhammad also had ties to al-Qaeda.
“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
Obama claimed that combat operations would be finished by 2010 and later took credit for ending U.S. combat in Iraq. But his own former Defense Secretary Robert Gates disputed that in 2016, the White House did a “disservice” to troops by engaging in word games.
“I think that it is incredibly unfortunate not to speak openly about what’s going on,” Gates told MSNBC. “American troops are in action, they are being killed, they are in combat. And these semantic backflips to avoid using the term combat is a disservice to those who are out there putting their lives on the line.”
“We have not had a major scandal in my administration.”
Obama sidestepped the comprehensive list of scandals that plagued his tenure as president. These scandals include but are not limited to: the Operation Fast and Furious gun walking scandal, the IRS scandal involving IRS workers intentionally targeting Tea Party organizations, and his own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton using a private email server.