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Marin: Lots of truthiness at political conventions

Updated: October 1, 2012 6:03PM



TAMPA, Fla. — So, here’s Sen. Dick Durbin by a satellite truck in a parking lot just outside the security perimeter of the Republican National Convention.

A fish out of water? A skunk at a garden party?

No. And yes.

Durbin was dispatched by the Obama campaign as part of a “truth squad” to counter the claims being made here by the Mitt Romney team.

The Romney campaign will have its own truth squad in Charlotte next week for the Democratic convention.

“I wish my Republican friends well for their national convention,” said Durbin Thursday under a broiling Tampa sun. “And I hope they wish us the same. But we’d just like to keep the record straight.”

“Truthiness,” a term coined by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, is defined by Wikipedia — the source of all knowledge these days — as a “truth” that feels right without the bother of “evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”

In the smash and grab world of SuperPac funded campaign commercials and take-no-prisoners politics, there’s a lot of “truthiness” out there to tackle.

“Oh listen, both sides break the rules when it comes to this, let’s be real honest about that,” said the senator. “I happen to think that the SuperPacs ... are plowing more money into this effort on the negative side than we’ve ever seen before. But the nature of campaigns is pretty rough and tumble.”

And indeed it was at breakfast Thursday morning when John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor and chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush, appeared before the Illinois delegation to fire up the troops.

Sununu first suggested that “perhaps Tony Rezko”, a former fund-raiser and friend of President Barack Obama currently doing time in federal prison, “can help him again.”

“Tacky,” was Durbin’s response. “But you know John Sununu is entitled to his point of view.

Yep, and Durbin his.

The former governor went on to suggest that Vice President Joe Biden’s recent statement at a Virginia rally that Mitt Romney’s approach to governing will put people “back in chains” was not an accident.

Biden’s remark got all kinds of criticism. Some Republicans saw it was a blatant slavery reference designed to appeal to blacks. Then again, some prominent African Americans condemned it as racially insensitive and stupid.

Durbin’s argued, “Maybe he could have chosen his words better, but Joe Biden doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”

The truth? More like truthiness. It depends on your point of view. What you believe. Whom you like. Whom you don’t.

But for those who want to dig deeper in this campaign, fact-check commercials and claims, there are some websites that do an excellent job of tracking both sides. And they have faulted the accuracy, at times, of both Team Obama and Team Romney.

Among the best: FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and Fact-Checker.com.

Then again, you might want to skip this search entirely. And adopt Stephen Colbert’s approach to politics. “I love the truth,” he said. “It’s the facts I’m not a fan of.”



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