Patterico's Pontifications


Obama’s war on women: True but false!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:55 am

[Posted by Karl]

It took Rathergate for the NYT to coin the phrase “Fake But Accurate,” but WaPo “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler nearly matches it with his rarest of ratings today:

“For far too long women have been left behind in Obama’s job market. Of the 740,000 jobs lost since Obama took office, 683,000 of them were held by women. That is truly unsustainable.”

— Statement by Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, April 6, 2012

In an effort to fight back against Democratic claims of a Republican “war on women,” the Republican National Committee has rolled out a new and startling fact—that under Obama, women have lost seven times as many jobs as men.

We found this statistic surprising because we had been under the impression that men had fared worse than women in the recession. So do the RNC’s numbers add up?

 It turns out they do, but Kessler throws a penalty flag anyway:

We cannot fault the RNC’s math, as the numbers add up. But at this point this figure doesn’t mean very much. It may simply a function of a coincidence of timing — a brief blip that could have little to do with “Obama’s job market.”

If trends hold up over the next few months, then the RNC might have a better case. But at this point we will give this statistic our rarely used label: 


As fundraiser/consultant Nathan Wurtzel quipped: “Fair, but biased.”  That the WaPo shuttered its Ministry of Truth while Democrats controlled the elected branches of the federal government was sort of a general tip off.  In this particular case, Kessler’s analysis is based on measuring Obama’s jobs record from the end of the recession (which favors Obama) rather than from the date of his inauguration (which Kessler admits is a common political and journalistic metric).  Aside from the fairness issue in changing metrics, I would argue that policy lag should warrant not measuring from Day One (although not necessarily from the end of the recession (which artifically assumes a connection between the policy and the recovery).  Yet Kessler concedes that even by his own metric, more than 2.2 million gross jobs have been added under Obama, but the gain for women was just 284,000.  If we are going into the progressive narrative of identity politics, even Kessler’s narrative is ugly for women.

Worse, Kessler does a half-baked analysis of why his narrative is ugly for women:

Now that the economy is growing again, men are recovering jobs at a faster pace than women. In fact, the latest employment report shows that male participation in the work force was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, in part because women tend to work in retail or government jobs, which have been cut in recent months.

Is this a function of Obama’s policies? It’s unclear at this point, but it certainly is an under-reported phenomenon that the RNC, in its use of this statistic, is trying to highlight.

Contra Kessler, this is not unclear.  Women far outnumber men on state and local government payrolls (especially in public schools), which were propped up by Obama’s stimulus money.  In fact, there is general agreement that the jobs “saved” by the stimulus were primarily in government, and education (which is mostly government).  That money was spent.  State and local governments then had to at least nod in the direction of rationalizing their spending, as the private sector already had.  The result was unemployment for hundreds of thousands of women starting in 2010.  Of course, this does not show that Obama is waging a war on women now so much as that he entered office waging a war for government at every level.

Bias and sloppy analysis aside, my biggest complaint with establishment media “fact-checking” is the condescension and arrogance involved in pretending political debates are much simpler questions of fact.  The Orwellian — or Pythonesque — “True But False” rating is just the poster child for the problems inherent in the effort.


37 Responses to “Obama’s war on women: True but false!”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (f07e38)

  2. This is such a beautiful illustration of how ‘fact checkers’ are just jamming their own opinions in as more important than the opinions of others.

    The only fact check needed here was whether the job numbers were accurate. That’s the true part.

    But they conclude ‘false’ because they don’t like the argument. They claim they need more time to see if the numbers lead to a valid argument, but this is just BS and they always generate some cover excuse like that. What they are really saying is that an argument they don’t agree with, even with true premises and honest reasoning, is ‘false’.

    Karl calls this condescending arrogance. I think this is so bad they must want to rub it in. They want to tick people off.

    I’m barely even thinking about how right the RNC was.

    Dustin (330eed)

  3. They have 3 1/2 years of data, but somehow 3 3/4 years worth of data will be that much more reliable?!

    Kessler – dishonest, but dum

    JD (ace8c4)

  4. my biggest complaint with establishment media “fact-checking” is the condescension and arrogance involved in pretending political debates are much simpler questions of fact

    I agree. It’s amazing the number of political opinions and conclusions that are labeled as FALSE by supposedly unbiased factcheckers.

    Reminds me of the alleged 2009 lie of the year.

    aunursa (63ca70)

  5. ‘first is accident, second is coincidence, third is
    enemy action’

    narciso (5fca68)


    How can something be FALSE when it is not yet False? It is true for now and for a very long time. They couldn’t even say the trends are making it false. We really don’t know if the trends are getting worse if that is their argument.

    The RNC is making the correct argument, but in another month, it will be forgetten for a new argument.

    MyOpinion (ea4bfa)

  7. If you look at WH policy jobs, the numbers are even worse.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)


    Karl – More appropriately shouldn’t it read “TRUE BUT INCONVENIENT (for my guy)”

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  9. Kessler’s record is quite clear, from the links in the Powerline piece, where he misrepresented what
    Bush and Cheney have said, in the past, among many
    other examples.

    narciso (5fca68)

  10. Here’s another note the meme;

    narciso (5fca68)

  11. True but False.

    Fair but Biased.

    Honest but Slimy.

    JVW (4d72aa)

  12. They have 3 1/2 years of data, but somehow 3 3/4 years worth of data will be that much more reliable?!

    JD, I liked that comment so much that I put it up on the WaPo’s site. Didn’t link back to you and Patterico, though. I’m not sure if it is allowed.

    JVW (4d72aa)

  13. I’m less concerned about the fact check nonsense here and more about the RNC legitimizing the “war on women” nonsense by trotting out borderline relevant job statistics. Really?

    So, this is our response? And if the statistics turn around, that means the other side has a case? Dumb, but expect more of the same. Expect the dumbest campaign ever run, if this is any indication.

    How about just ignoring the charge and let it die?

    foxbat (a19593)

  14. concern troll is lame but predictable

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  15. WaPp: Liars, but ba5tards…

    Obama: SCOAMF.

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  16. I do what I can, JVW. It seemed silly when I read it, but figured there might be some mathematical significance to an additional 3 months of data. Or, I just wanted to point out how brazenly silly that was 😉

    Also note how he tries to justify using data from the end if the recession, where he acknowledges that he has been unsuccessful at pushing the change to the traditional metric. I have been unsuccessful, but will proceed anyway, with my unsuccessful metric.

    Kessler is not partisan. He said so. 18 Pinnochios.

    JD (ace8c4)

  17. Foxbat: I agree, the RNC wasn’t thinking when they decided to use up one of their (figurative) bullets on this issue. They really expect a single woman to change her mind and vote for Romney because of that ad?

    And the start of Obama’s presidency is the relevant time frame. Both layoffs and hiring are based on an expectation of what the future looks like. For layoffs, it is less because of what happened in the past (spilled milk) than because the manager doesn’t see sales remaining high enough to justify the staff level. Starting with January 2009, managers looked at the future – with Obama – and collectively said ‘it ain’t going to be pretty, we better reduce staff’.

    steve (369bc6)

  18. Well thank the lord that’s over. Santorum just suspended his campaign.

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  19. Breaking: Santorum suspends his campaign!

    Icy (fbdc08)

  20. Sorry, Sarah

    Icy (fbdc08)

  21. You find this WaPo fact checking worse than the previous one? I dunno, the WaPo changing the words of an Obama statement before fact checking it seems worse to me.

    max (131bc0)

  22. Icy, any repetition is only a pleasure. :)

    SarahW (b0e533)

  23. max (21)

    That one may be more biased; this one more pointedly identifies the general futility of trying to reduce political debates to “fact-checking.”

    Karl (f07e38)

  24. Yes, honey, I am having sex with a woman who is not you, but she was a victim of The Patriarchy, and her using me for sex is restoring her faith in humanity…

    I have got to try this line of reasoning

    MunDane (861704)

  25. <>

    I think the number of jobs lost since Obama *took over*
    is in excess of 2 million.

    rab (7a9e13)

  26. A WaPo fact checker?!? Isn’t that like jumbo shrimp? Or Democratic scruples? Between the Post and the NY Times, they’ve been one-upping each other to see who can deliver the juiciest valentine to Obama …

    ombdz (2a81ef)

  27. rab (26),

    Yes, that’s why I specify gross jobs, not net jobs. He may be lucky to get to zero net jobs by November.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  28. To me the most surprising thing about this story was the fact that the Washington Post still is being published.

    Tsar Nicholas II (cb2d5b)

  29. sometimes when santorums suspend their campaigns I get a happy feeling inside and I wanna hug somebody

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  30. what fun it is to laugh and sing a sleighing song tonight!

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  31. It’s not a reassuring notion, that this was the response, rather than the first amendment argument,

    narciso (5fca68)

  32. Icy, any repetition is only a pleasure.
    Comment by SarahW — 4/10/2012 @ 2:08 pm

    — Some of us wanted Santorum to stay in.

    Icy (8965e6)

  33. Aww,Icy. Have a glass of this fine champagne.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  34. I put pom juice in mine so it’s pink.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  35. Thanks for writing this, Karl.

    Patterico (feda6b)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3226 secs.