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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 05/28/2008

Obama and Auschwitz, Part II

By Michael Dobbs


Barack Obama on Memorial Day.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.
--Barack Obama, October 2, 2002.

"I had an uncle who was one of the, um, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps."
--Barack Obama, May 26, 2008.

A lot of incoming fire yesterday for the Fact Checker after I awarded Barack Obama three Pinocchios for claiming that his uncle liberated Auschwitz. The Obama campaign argued that the uncle in question (actually the great uncle) had taken part in the liberation of a different concentration camp, Ohrdruf Nord, so the underlying facts were correct. Posters accused me of nitpicking and slighting the contribution of American troops in World War II. The tone of many comments was summed up by "buddhistmonkey," who awarded me "Five Dopeys for this article, and five Cruella de Vils as a human being."

Let me try to explain my verdict a little better than I did the first time.

The Facts

The three Pinocchio verdict had little to do with the fact that Obama mixed up two different Nazi concentration camps. Nor did it have much to do with his great uncle. The key point for me was Obama's claim, which he has made previously, that American troops liberated Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was not just one more Nazi concentration camp, a place of torture and immense suffering. It was a death factory, the very symbol of Hitler's Final Solution, the plan to exterminate the Jewish race. Like most Nazi death camps, it was located not in Germany proper, but in Poland, where the killing could take place out of the view of most Germans. And it was liberated by the Red Army. Holocaust museum footage here.

Having spent much of my career as a foreign correspondent in both the Soviet Union and Poland, I am fully aware of the atrocities committed by Stalin, before, during, and after World War II. Stalin's crimes were as appalling as Hitler's. The expression "the Red Army liberated Poland" has always stuck in my gut because it conceals the fact that the Soviets effectively occupied Poland, and much of eastern Europe, for the next 44 years. But the Red Army did liberate Auschwitz. The 7,000 or so remaining prisoners of the Auschwitz death camp owed their freedom--and their lives--to Soviet soldiers.

To claim that American soldiers liberated Auschwitz is to perpetuate the myth that Americans played the dominant role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II (with a little help from the British.) On the first day of the Fact Checker blog, I got into trouble with Fred Thompson supporters for taking issue with his claim that Americans had "shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world." I pointed out the Soviets lost 10 times as many soldiers in World War II as American soldiers killed in all foreign wars combined. Winston Churchill credited the Red Army with "tearing the guts out of the Nazi war machine."

Soviet soldiers died for their dictatorial regime but, as the Auschwitz example shows, they also died for "other people's liberty."

The Fact Checker also makes mistakes department: as Walther from Lower Saxony pointed out, Buchenwald and Ohrdruf are in Thuringia, not Lower Saxony. My apologies for the error.

The Pinocchio Test

To claim that Americans liberated Auschwitz is as much a denial of history as to claim that the Soviets liberated Belgium or Rome. It is alarming that presidential candidates (both Democrat and Republican) continue to distort basic historical facts.

Verdict upheld.

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | May 28, 2008; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  3 Pinocchios, Barack Obama, Candidate Watch, History  
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Next: The Pot and the Kettle

Comments

Pinnochios should be for conscious lying, not for poor knowledge of historical geography. Get over yourself, Fact Checker, you blew this one. But we still love you, so relax.

Posted by: H | May 28, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for still loving me, H, but I should clarify something about the way I use the Pinocchio symbol. It is very difficult to know whether someone is "consciously" lying, or simply making a factual error (often to their advantage). The term "lie" goes to a person's motivation, which is difficult for an outsider to assess, so I try to avoid it. Granted, most people associate the Pinocchio symbol with lying, but I am using it to express the telling of an untruth, which is slightly different.

Posted by: The Fact Checker | May 28, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for upholding the verdict. Any idiot who even mistakenly believes that Auschwitz was liberated by Americans doesn't deserve to be President. What's next, Truman dropped the A-Bombs on Germany?

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Pinnochios should be given out based on intent to deceive, not a lack of historical knowledge.

In this case, there was a clear intention to deceive on the part of Obama -- and its not the first time that he's pulled this kind of deception.

Obama is constantly trying to butress his "patriotism" and "loyalty" creds by falsely trying to make it sound like he comes from a family with a long military tradition. There was the false story about his father's flag-draped coffin, and now this story about an "uncle" who is actually a Great Uncle, and whom Obama apparently doesn't actually know.

Obama also attempted to deceive the veterans he was talking to by making it appear that the issues that concerned them were priorities for him because of his personal experiences.

The point Obama was trying to make was that for him, mental health care for returning veterans was a personal issue -- that he wasn't just pandering to veterans concerns, he really cared about the issue because it involved an UNCLE -- i.e. a close relative.

Obama also deserve four pinocchios for exploiting the Holocaust -- you don't need to liberate death camps to suffer from PTSD, and Obama's comments fail to acknowledge that.

Finally, it should be determined if his great-uncle really did participate in the liberation of 'the concentration camps'. By the time US troops arrived, Ohrdruf had been, for all intents and purposes, abandoned...guarded only by a few Germans. Precisely which unit gets credit for officially 'liberating' the camp remains in dispute -- but it certainly did not involved the thousands upon thousands of soldiers who comprised the 89th Infantry Division. And while the 89th as a unit can perhaps take credit for the "liberation" of Ohrdruf, claims tha someone personally participated in the liberation of the camp should be verified.

Many members of the 89th did pass through Ohrdruf afer Eisenhower ordered that US troops be given tours of the camp so that they "would know what they are fighting for". Unless Obama's great-uncle was one of the relatively small number of troops who entered Ohrdruf on April 4th, Obama is claiming credit for his family for something they did not actually do. (source notes http://www.89infdivww2.org/ohrdruf/ohrdrufintro.htm )

Posted by: paul lukasiak | May 28, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker:

even though we gave you a "graceful out" --
You must be a Hillary supporter because you can' admit to a mistake --

PS: How many Pinocchios do you get for your admitted error? And do these cancel out the ill conceived Pinocchios awarded with this new bogus explanation

Just like Sen Clinton - your clarification made your argument weaker

It's okay to say you are wrong -- when you are

Posted by: alison | May 28, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

thats

CANNOT admit to a mistake

Posted by: alison | May 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

intent is hogwash. facts are facts. you're doing a fine job. keep it up.

Posted by: mamund | May 28, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

alison:

It's okay to say you are wrong, too : )

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Can Michael Dobbs separate his personal feelings from the issue? Obviously, this is the "most important issue ever" because he's personally and emotionally involved.

Posted by: Will | May 28, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

paul lukasiak wrote: "Obama also deserve four pinocchios for exploiting the Holocaust -- you don't need to liberate death camps to suffer from PTSD, and Obama's comments fail to acknowledge that."

I find two things interesting about your post. First, Obama was relating a story about his own family's experience with PTSD. You are right, you don't need to liberate a concentration camp to suffer from PTSD, but for his own family, that was the experience.

Second, I find it amazing that after "The Fact Checker" goes on a rant about how Americans didn't liberate any "Death Camps" you then go and refer to Buchenwald as a "Death Camp". I think that if you are going to go on a high horse about accurately describing what happened, you should be refering to forced labor camps as death camps.


Finally, regarding the Soviet contribution to victory in WWII, I agree. I think we need to give the US education system and media 3 pinochio's for de-emphasizing the sacrifices that were made by Soviet troops in WWII. More Soviet troops died in WWII than there were holocost victims (11 mil vs 6 mil). Throw in civilian casualties and the Soviet's lost 24 million people or about 14 % of their population. I think all this grim math points to a large issue: WWII was a complete and unnecessary waste of human life and there is no punishment now or in the afterlife that can be inflicted on the Nazi's who foisted this upon us.

Posted by: Arch Stanton | May 28, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. Obama originally got three pinocchios for citing Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald. When that got shot down, he got three pinocchios for citing American liberating forces instead of Russian ones. I sense that, for a foreign correspondent with the experiences he cites, this could become a very personal issue. That alone would make it all but impossible for the writer to back down. But we're giving out pinnocchios (Pinocchio told outright lies, causing his nose to grow), not ignoracchios. Big difference. Maybe three dunce caps instead.

Posted by: John | May 28, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Factchecker,
IMO, the problem is that you only gave at most TWO noses for gaffes that were clearly worse. "Sunni vs Shiite" immediately comes to mind. Your argument sounds somewhat defensive, and unnecessarily so.

Posted by: rajjj hater | May 28, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Soviet soldiers died for their dictatorial regime but..."

You said it yourself, Stalin was every bit the Tyrant that Hitler was. For this reason, it is also well known that Soviet Soldiers died BECAUSE of their dictatorial regime, not for it, as they were summarily executed on the battle field -- in the same way they were summarily drafted into the service or thusly summarily executed -- when they refused to engage in battle.

In terms of liberation for the cause of freedom and democracy, and not out of servitude to a regime every bit as poisonous and murderous as the Nazi's, Thomposon would be correct. Do not minimize that remarkably important distinction.

Posted by: Jon | May 28, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Arch Stanton:

Isn't the WHOLE ISSUE whether his uncle, and therefore his whole family, falsely claim such an experience? I agree with paul lukasiak that it should be determined if Barack HUSSEIN Obama's great-uncle really did participate in the liberation of 'the concentration camps'.

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Verdict upheld."

Translation: "I screwed up when awarding 4 Pinocchios too hastily, so I reduced it only to 3 Pinocchios so I can save face."

Look, Obama flubbed a detail, but the detail was immaterial. If Auschwitz or Poland or WWII history were the subject of his speech, I'd agree with 2-3 Pinocchios. However, the subject at hand was PTSD, and how a close family member suffered from it.

Does naming the wrong concentration camp really take away from his overall point? No, of course not. So you are making mountain out of molehill.

The bottom line here, Mr. Fact Checker, is that you made a mistake and won't admit it. Much like Clinton refusing to admit that she was full of it regarding the sniper fire incident, you are full of it and just trying to cover your posterior at this point.

Posted by: Bob | May 28, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

As I said, thank you for upholding the verdict. It should be determined whether Barack HUSSEIN Obama's great-uncle really did participate in the liberation of 'the concentration camps' (upon which the PTSD claim was based ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I just don't think that mixing up Auschwitz with Buchenwald constitutes a wanton and egregious lie. I mean really, you may have been a foreign correspondent over there, but the vast majority of us were not. If his grandfather had never been involved in liberating any concentration camps then the outrage would be justified, but he was - he just got the name of one major camp mixed up with another.

This whole thing is just about the silliest "controversy" I've seen thus far... Sadly, it's a long way to November and I doubt that it'll hold the title very long.

Man up and admit that you're overreacting just a tad.

Posted by: HJB | May 28, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I think that if you are going to go on a high horse about accurately describing what happened, you should be refering to forced labor camps as death camps.

wow. could your critique be any more lame?

Posted by: paul_lukasiak | May 28, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dobbs,
I'm afraid you missed the point of Obama's reference, which was NOT TO SUGGEST THAT THE U.S. WAS THE DOMINANT LIBERATOR. It should be easy to understand his confusing which camp his great-uncle helped liberate. If, for instance I said I was in Baltimore, rather than Washington DC, you would surely think I misspoke, not that I was attempting to suggest something that is not so. It would seem your personal sensitivities (biases?) are at work here. It would be good if you could re-think your conclusion, which it would seem was off the mark.

Posted by: Minnesota Nice | May 28, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

utter nonsense.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

This man, very junior Senator Obama, wants to be the president of the United States yet he gives speeches without checking key facts. This is just another in a long string of indicators that he is not now, and maybe never will be, qualified for the responsibilities he is seeking. What would make anyone think he would be any more competent in the execution of his duties as a president? Three Ps aren't sufficient when we are dealing with disinformation promulgated by a potential candidate for president.

Posted by: Seeking Intelligence in DC | May 28, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

It seems like the Fact Checker wants to be a tough guy on obama because he had so much success on being the tough guy with hillary.

He can technically justify giving three pinocchios because there was "significant factual error" (though, i might add, no internal contradiction). But it depends on what he is terming "factual error." It is true that US forces didn't liberate Auschwitz, but if you expand the quote of what obama said (the Fact Checker only cites a very small part), he says "And the story in my family goes." He then tells about Uncle Charlie's difficulties with the trauma of war and the story his family tells about that. But the story of Uncle Charlie (everything from attic to Auschwitz) is part of the "story in my family." He's telling the truth about the way the story is told in his family even if the story is factually wrong about where the truthful actions took place. Perhaps this is the inheritance of the Cold War and its influence on the teaching and telling of history in the U.S. where the Communists were never the heroes.

This whole discussion gets away from the point of telling the anecdote in the first place which was to highlight the failure of Bush policy on verterans. I wish the fact checker would give a Gepetto checkmark for Obama's diagnosis of the catastrophe which is the VA.

Posted by: against the DLC | May 28, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

018v75a3q http://www.729085.com/1097205.html > 5nwb4xd2n8 [URL=http://www.292693.com/1013208.html] r1lpf9cynapa [/URL] 2hd6egv3zpo0euk

Posted by: 8t320yhddy | May 28, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

""shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world."

Gotta laugh at that. Some Americans are so dumb and arrogant it's sad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties#Casualties_by_country

Shows that the US did not suffer great casualties in WWII. The Soviet Union suffered stagging losses.

That said, I don't think that Obama lied as much as he misspoke, and that, as you said earlier, we should expect more of a Harvard-educated Presidential candidate. He doesn't deserve Pinocchios. He deserves "F" for failure.

Posted by: Jsilverheels | May 28, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you completely fact checker but be aware that if you criticize or continue to give Obama Pinocchios you will be labeled as a racist or even worse a Clinton sympathizer by none other than the Obama camp and the MEDIA- so beware!

Posted by: mimi362 | May 28, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Two Pinocchios for everyone using the words "Harvard-educated". Unless you'll have me believe that they teach much WWII history at Harvard LAW School.

Posted by: Bob | May 28, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

funny, all of these comments on here attacking Obama for having the audacity to "misspeak" yet all of this is coming on a the coat tails of one of the presidents with the worst public speaking skills imaginable.

not only did bush himself make terrible blunder after terrible blunder every time opened his mouth, he didn't understand or correctly frame a large portion of questions asked of him.

obama is a golden-tongued god compared to bush. obama can actually speak, pronounce english words correctly, form coherent sentences and convey that he understands not only facts but abstract ideas.

if george DUBYA bush is your measure of whether obama is up to the job of president then i suggest investing in a new "meshurin' stik" - because, according to the heights of the bar set by bush, paris hilton could likely hold high office as well.

keep going on and on about how obama doesn't have the wherewithal to be president and in the mean time the very sound of bush's voice will make everyone else's ears continue to hemorrhage.

Posted by: a-Ron | May 28, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think what a lot of you all are missing in this whole mess are some obvious reasons for the imperfect retelling of his family histories. One, he was raised by his grandfather, not his birth dad. So, when he recalled the flag draped over his father's coffin he was referring to the "dad" that raised him, not the biological father that he barely knew. That is probably also why he said his "uncle" instead of "Great Uncle". In family situations where the grandparents are so actively involved in the raising of the children they are often referred to as the equivalent titles of the "primary family" and not the more distant "great references". I also think we should remember that Barack is relating his family stories as he remembers them or as they were told to him. Maybe the stories were even mistold to him by his mother or grandmother. Don't we all usually get our facts mixed up over the retelling of stories? His grandparents or mother probably related the story about the great uncle to him along time ago. It has been verified that his great uncle did in fact go into the camp in question and he is actually still living. Evidently, it was a work camp,not an actual death camp, but I don't know which one would have been worse. Besides, don't you think that just fighting in the war itself would have been horrible enough to make this poor uncle go into the attic for six months to be alone with his thoughts. Barack is sincere in what he is trying to tell his audience about his sentiments towards the plight of our soldiers. When he joined the Senate he asked to be on the Veterans committee and has been devoted to their cause long before entering this campaign. Get over it...you are all just a bunch haters.

Posted by: Theresa Williams | May 28, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Kool-aid drinkers will forgive everything. If Obama mixes up historical facts, how many states are in the union, or the purpose of taxes (he stated to Charlie Gibson it was about fairness, not revenues). It is OK, merely a speak-o. Clinton or McCain mix up anything, and you get 'They are not qualified to be president'.

Posted by: thelaw | May 28, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama committed a brain fart. Big deal.
Okay, so let me get this straight.
All he did was confuse his great-uncle with his uncle. Then he confused one concentration camp with another. He was speaking to a group of Jewish people.

I wonder how many Jewish people have all the concentration camp facts straight.

Clinton and McCain supporters get over it. Obama will win the Jewish vote along with other votes despite this brain fart.

Posted by: Obama'sBrainFart | May 28, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama's mixup on which camp his great uncle liberated strikes me as fairly mild. Not worth all the attention.

As to the Soviet Union's role in WWII. They started out as an ally of the Nazis and were perfectly willing to divide eastern Europe, particularly Poland, with the Germans. Most of their losses came in defensive battles when Hitler turned on them. Unlike the British who came to the aid of Poland when it was attacked by the USSR as well as Germany, or the U.S. which came to the aid of western Europe, the Soviets fought first for conquest, then for survival and finally for revenge. Also, given their almost complete absense of air power, it seems unlikely they would have prevailed if the British and American airforces had not destroyed Germany's industrial base. The USSR may have survived a brutal war but it was one they brought on themselves. Any gratitude they may have earned from the allies was paid by the west's willingness to overlook their actions in 1939.

Posted by: Woodbridge VA | May 28, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

What do you call misspoke- LIE LIE I guess he's just a LIer.

VOTE HILLARY- or McCain.

Posted by: mimi362 | May 28, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Any idiot who even mistakenly believes that Auschwitz was liberated by Americans doesn't deserve to be President."
JakeD (nice logic, see below)

So he doesn't know his concentration camps very well. How about McCain not knowing the difference between Sunnis and Shiites? He made that mistake twice, the second time on the Senate floor during the last report on the conditions in Iraq. You see, WWII was over 60 years ago and BTW we won so you don't have to worry about his gaffe presenting a national security threat.

However, due to McCain's poor judgment and naivety we are NOW embroiled in a seemingly endless war and he doesn't even know the difference between two of the warring factions.

So I'll go out on a limb here and say that a leader not knowing who's-who in a CURRENT war is slightly more of a national security risk than a leader who makes a gaffe about ancient history.

Posted by: JR | May 28, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

What do you call misspoke- LIE LIE LIE

VOTE HILLARY- or McCain.

Posted by: mimi362 | May 28, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

After living in London for 7 years, I've become painfully aware of the way Americans use the Holocaust and exploit thier effort so they can look like heros. Americans may not know who liberated the Polish camps and Americans may not know how many hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops gave their lives, but Europe and the rest of the world is NOT confused.

Posted by: Cole | May 28, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Americans may not know how many hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops gave their lives"

I believe that's MILLIONS comrade

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it was intentional- naming one concentration camp over another does not give him any advantage.

But: lying to inflate you resume does, hhhmmm which candidate has done that several times during this campaign?

But: Not knowing who the enemy is during a current war presents a national security risk and shows lack of JUDGEMENT and NAIVETY.
Hmmm, who did that again?, twice?

Posted by: JR | May 28, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

McCain
McCane
Grampy McSame
Crampy McLame
Grumpy McCrappypants

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Several things to note:

1) Uncle vs. Great Uncle: In my family we refer to both uncles (brothers of our parents) and great uncles (brothers of our grand parents) as Uncle. I wouldn't be surprised if that was also the case in Obama's family.

Verdict: A stupid controversy that hinges entirely on the given norms of a family.

2) Obama's mistake vs. Clinton's Sniper Story: I would say there is a very big difference for several reasons. The first is that Clinton's camp stuck with the story even after it had been disproven. Obama's camp came out quickly with a clarification admiting a mistake was made (a mistake, I will add, that "kool-aid drinking Obama cultists" agreed was a mistake). The second big difference is that Clinton used that sniper story as a basis to prove her toughness credentials. It was an important part of building up Clinton as someone who had faced dangerous situations. In Obama's case the mistake was merely a part of an ancedote that was meant to illustrate that PTSD isn't a new phenomenon and needs to be address for our current service members. Finally, form my reading of this incident, Obama was not using this as a way to beef up his "patriotism" or "Pro-Jewish" credentials. It was merely an ancedote that worked in the larger frame work he was presenting.

Verdict: Not comparable situations both in scope and in substance

3) 3 Pinocchios for mistaking a historical event: Maybe I say a different version of the movie than the fact checker, but I was under the impression that Pinocchio's nose grew when he lied, not when he got something wrong. I think this is most people's beef with ratings system that is emplyed. You may calibrate it to facts but rate it based on an image/character people associate with lying.

Yes, Obama was factually wrong in claiming Aushwitz was liberated by American troops. But the difference between lying and being wrong is very important. If I tell my friends that this Friday is the 29th unknowingly (maybe I was looking at the wrong calender), I did not lie to them, I was wrong. If I tell them Friday is the 29th KNOWING that it is in fact the 30th that would be lying. In this case Obama was wrong but not a liar (as the image of Pinocchio would indicate).

Verdict: While Obama did make "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions", it was completely tangential to the point he was making. To quite literally nitpick a small part of an anecdotal passage seems to be a waste of time and electrons for all parties involved.

Overall I feel this episode on Fact checker does a lot to hurt the credibility of the factc hecking and the rating system. Getting Sunni/Shia wrong or being unable to identify what particular bits of pork can be cut out to pay for more massive tax cuts (as McCain has done) is 1,000,000 times more relevant to judging the worthiness of a candidate than mistaking two horrible facilities of death (don't kid yourselves, just because the non-death camps were called work camps didn't prevent wanton and cruel murders; in work camps prisoners merely had some last ounces of productivity squeezed out of them before being killed or expiring from over work/malnourishment).

My suggestion: stick to matters of policy and claims and don't waste time or effort tracking down parts of the candidates ancedotes that bear no relation to the policies they will enact.

Posted by: MDK | May 28, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Intentional or not, Obama should have known better and would have if he bothered to look in a history book before invoking the name of Auschwitz incorrectly. Thank you Fact Checker for holding ALL candidates accountable and not picking favorites! Other commenters could learn a lot from your example/

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"What do you call misspoke- LIE LIE LIE

VOTE HILLARY- or McCain.

Posted by: mimi362 | May 28, 2008 3:02 PM"

------------------------------------------

Just for context, all three of them have made statements of Historical or Sociopolitical innaccuracy. So which is more egregious, in today's world:

A. Not knowing the difference between Auschwitz and Ohrdruf

B. Not knowing the difference between Sunnis and Shiites

C. Not knowing the difference between being shot at and being afraid of being shot at

Ya pays your money and ya takes your choice.

Posted by: SourPuss | May 28, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

It isn't bad enough that we have been re-fighting Vietnam for 30 years (or should I say for 33 years since the fall of Saigon, for those who can't wait to say I have my facts wrong), now we have to re-fight WWII? Clearly, there are some people with too much time on their hands, and a right wing agenda burning a hole in their pocket.

First of all, I spent my whole life calling my great aunt "Aunt Teresa." No one I know calls their great uncle "great anything" unless they are trying to clarify for someone else the exact nature of the relationship.

Second, as others have said, the precise location of the camp was incidental to Obama's main point - Iraq war veterans are in need of services that they are not now receiving. And Bush and McCain look foolish standing in the way of Congress providing it to them.

I would prefer that Obama - and Presidents, and newspapers, and bloggers, and blog commenters, and everyone else, for that matter - be more precise with his facts before speaking. But to make this a big issue shows just how desperate some people are to save their side from suffering a humiliating defeat in November.

Posted by: jaypem | May 28, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

This is PATHETIC.

You barely mention the fact that you got YOUR facts wrong. In a FACT CHECKING column you made a basic geographic mistake.

Then you provide a link to suggest that Obama said that American troops liberated Auschwitz, with the relevant line being:

"He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka."

HEY, GUESS WHAT? American soldiers talked to Soviet soldiers. Information traveled. As a matter of fact, Americans who aren't even soldiers heard the stories of Auschwitz and Treblinka being discovered. Nothing in that statement is false. He does not credit American soldiers with entering Auschwitz, does he?

Posted by: Seth | May 28, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Fact Checker. This was a twisting of history to suit candidate Obama's needs. To hope some "patriotism" and "figting man gumption" would rub off on him. Not gonna happen.

Whether due to ignorance (doubtful) or exploitation, the 3 Pinocchios are warranted.

Posted by: rangeragainstwar | May 28, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

So, for not knowing German geography.

For lacking reading comprehension skills.

And for suggesting Soviet and American troops were not "fellow troops", despite their strong alliance, which reveals huge ignorance of World War II, I give you

FOUR PINOCCHIOS.

Posted by: Seth | May 28, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the Obama nuts are still trying to defend this, "oh it doesn't matter" - of course if Clinton or McCain had misspoke it they would be screaming bloody murder. Morons and pansys - god help us...

Posted by: Gooch | May 28, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

None of this, of course, clears Obama of all charges. In his speech (but not in the link you made), he suggests his great uncle entered Auschwitz, which most likely was untrue.

For conflating two stump speeches, one where his grandfather hears stories of Auschwitz, the other where his great uncle is involved in liberating Buchenwald (apparently in Lower Saxony), I give Obama

ONE PINOCCHIO.

Posted by: Seth | May 28, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

this is a load, factchecker, and you know it, which is why you came back to sheepishly explain yourself, again and again. "how dare he get his nazi deathcamps mixed up! 3 pinnocchios!!" perhaps you'd like to start awarding quills based on the candidates penmanship next?

Posted by: enkidu1 | May 28, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mr. Hobbs, you have once again succeeded in entirely missing the point of your blog.

It is correct that the Soviets liberated Auschwitz. It is also correct that Obama's uncle participated in the liberation of a different death camp and that that experience (and presumably other aspects of his war experience) left him highly traumatized, and both of these aspects of Obama's life story are the ones that are relevant. (I have a friend who somehow managed to be born in Bergen-Belsen, or so I understand. And I am pretty sure that to him, the essential matter would be that Americans liberated his camp.)

Sen. Obama was not presenting a discourse or chronicle on the destruction of Nazi Germany. He was talking about the impact on his uncle of his contributions to bringing about the end of the horrors, which is totally, entirely (redundancy intentional) unquestioned and unquestionable. Although much more corrosive, your point in this is even more pointless than your diligence in tracking down the exact locale in the Panama Canal Zone where Sen. McCain was born.

There is a massive difference between a lie, a material error of fact that should be readily apparent, and an apparent conflation made in the recollection of stories hesitantly told to a nephew by a damaged uncle.

If Obama "deserves" 3 Pinocchios for this, then Mitt Romney deserves about 30 for his entirely fraudulent "memory" of accompanying his father in a march with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and John McCain deserves about 300 Pinocchios for repeatedly, even with prompting, showing that he does not differentiate between the major groups of people who are, on a near-daily basis, killing each other and our men and women now, in 2008.

To put this into broader context, given your European experience with a sense of history, do a thought experiment. During the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, how much credibility would you give a purported leader who could not differentiate between Protestants and Catholics? Over and over again.

And I STILL have yet to see a running lead on "Top 10 McCain Flipflops."

Posted by: EdA | May 28, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The sort of stuff that is being thrown up against Obama is not what a campaign should be about. He did not lie, he mis-spoke. I agree with the person who suggested a dunce hat instead of a long nose (which implies liar), but this does not even rise to the level of a dunce hat. I personally think the Democrats are crazy to nominate either Hillary or Obama -- and would be even crazier to have the so-called dream-ticket, which would be a nightmare for thoughtful Obama supporters. I think there is too much prejudice and outright hatred, throughout this country, to risk losing the election this year. Maybe in some future year, when and if the Republicans nominate an OK candidate, Democrats could take the risk. I actually think Republicans could afford to take the risk more easily, with Powell or Rice or Susan Collins. But the right-wing of the GOP won't let that happen. This year Democrats must win not only the White House but also nearly l0 more Senate seats in order to break GOP Senate filibusters and get progressive legislation passed. Most GOP Senators up for re-election are in the South.I see no way either Obama or Hillary would help the Democratic challenger in N and S Carolina,
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma -- or help Mary Landrieu get re-elected in Louisiana. I want a Gore-Nunn ticket, to have a chance in the South, and maybe even in Kentucky and Tennessee. I also want the campaign to focus on issues -- not on fighting prejudice and rumors that feed on prejudice. Obama can wait, despite his lovely Martin Luther King quotation. He is young. And Democrats can elect all sorts of capable Democratic women to the Senate, House, and Governorships and wait for one of them to prove herself highly capable, honorabe, and electable. This election must put into place an Administration that will deal with global warming and nuclear proliferation issues. Al Gore is expert on the first, and Sam Nunn is expert on the second. The other experts and political leaders around the world know this, know them,, and would trust them.Also, people would not have unrealistic expectations -- as I fear some Obama supporters have. Nor would they remember past mistakes of the Clintons, as many of us do, to use as an excuse for non-cooperation. We need world leaders who will be respected. McCain will be feared, especially by those who hear the information about his terrible hot temper that sometimes leaks out despite the attempt to conceal it.


Posted by: lynnette | May 28, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

How many people died after Obama lied about his uncle.

uh huh.

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

OMG! EdA, you have just lost all credibility! You just claimed Bergen-Belsen was liberated by American troops, when it was in fact liberated by BRITISH troops.

TEN MILLION PINOCCHIOS FOR EdA!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Seth | May 28, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

oh _ forgot to tell you how we get to a Gore-Nunn ticket. Hillary doesn't stop fighting. Polls come out showing she has lowered her ratings versus McCain, and also dragged Obama's polls down with her due to Hillary supporters really meaning it when they say they'll vote for McCain rather than Obama. Polls in states with Senate seats up, begin to show Democratic candidates with falling chances of winning. Smart superdelegates, holding out, begin talking about this being the last hurrah of superdelegates, and how they can prove themselves as wise uniters of the party. A few blue dog type Democrats and freshmen Democrats and challengers in red-to-blue races start talking about how the party is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again. Big emphasis on climate-change legislation by Congressman Markey of Massachusets, Senator Boxer of California, and others, breaks through the idiotic discussion of trivia by the news media and most bloggers. Oh, yes, that's what I was meaning to ask people -- could we discuss the important issues? Even here on the site headed by a world-class nit-picker?

Posted by: lynnete again | May 28, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse


Good Lord!

Anything goes when it comes to hitting Obama. What the hell does it matter to confuse a death camp with another? There were scores of them all over occupied Europe.

November won't come too soon to end all this BS.

This isn't fact checking. It's a tempest in a teapot.

How about checking what the mafia in the W.H. is preparing as next catastrophe before the Chimp walks? How about some good old invatigating and fact checking and reporting?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Since the Fact Checker is taking a lot of heat here, I just wanted to chime in to say that this is really something I would like to read more often. American politicians often describe all of the world's history as ultimately being because of the United States, often in order to create historical examples for their policies. The only quibble I would have here is that perhaps someone could have researched how widespread this particular misunderstanding is. I was told multiple times in high school history courses that the Americans had ended WWII essentially single-handedly and had liberated Auschwitz (Luckily for me, I never trusted history teachers without independent verification!) and I have hardly anything in common with Obama in my background, so I would guess the idea to be fairly widespread. That does not, in my mind, excuse Obama, but it may at least mitigate his level of "guilt," so to speak.

This analysis would not, of course, affect the Pinocchios, since, as the Fact Checker has reminded us again in the wake of this article, the Pinocchios are based on the veracity of the statement and nothing else.

Posted by: Shattenjager | May 28, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"What the hell does it matter to confuse a death camp with another?"

It's an understanding of history and nations. It's simple knowledge that a potential President should know. We need to know history in order to learn from it, Sen. Obama needs to learn a little.

It's this kind of naiveté that could potentially harm the US if he were to be elected President.

It's WWII for crying out loud, it's a major component of US and World history of the 20th Century. It's not like people are jumping on the Senator because he mis-pronounced a Vietnamese village or a Grenadian town.

Posted by: Kim | May 28, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

FC--My parents fled Poland, not because they were Jewish (they weren't), but because they couldn't stomach Russian occupation after nearly 6 years of war with Nazi Germany.

So I appreciate your fact-checking Obama's Auschwitz claim. Like the classy guy he is, he owned up to his error and now we can move on to more timely matters.

I will say that Americans suck at history. Not just Obama, but all of us are so lame at it. I would love to give George W. Bush a history test, wouldn't you? Imagine the abused syntax! We lazily let Steven Speilberg weave some Hollywood narrative for us, and so all the places, all the atrocities, all the names just get coagulated together.

As for more timely matters, how about that Liz Trotter? Think she can do stand-up on Comedy Central?

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter | May 28, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Re: Shattenjager

While you are correct in regards to the meaning of the Pinocchios ("Pinocchios are based on the veracity of the statement and nothing else") they are fundamentally an inaccurate representation of the matter being discussed.

Pinocchio was known for lies, not ignorance. For instance, when McCain screwed up the Shia/Sunni distinction, he probably didn't know there was a difference (or what it was). In that case he should not have received Pinicchios but some other symbol indicating his wrongness.

Same situation with Obama here. He didn't lie (i.e.: deserve a Pinocchio) but was wrong (so probably deserved the same type of symbol McCain would have received above only at a very minimal level due to this mistakes slight importance in the larger scheme of things).

Maybe Fact Checker should diversify to distinguish between being wrong and lying. I think that would calm a lot of people down.

Posted by: MDK | May 28, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

help -- you people are fiddling while more than just Rome burns. please allow my polar bears and elephants and chimps and honeybees and song-birds to vote in your next election -- and my butterflies also, they got a bad name in 2000. otherwise, you may have a lot more weeds and insects voting with their roots and feet. just thought i'd let you know I have an interest in what you folks are up to -- and what you are neglecting to do.

Posted by: planet earth | May 28, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The Nazis were an evil regime.
People forget that America and the USSR were one the same side. They were our brothers in arms.

So it doesn't matter whether it was US troops or the Red Army that liberated the Jews. They are one and the same.

And to Jewish people who refuse to vote for Obama because he mistook one concentration for another, get real. Every concentration camp was the same. You should be grateful that the US Army and the Red Army saved your butts.

This article is clearly a ploy by a desparate Clinton campaign. So pathetic. Hillary - get lost. We don't need your kind of politics anymore.

Posted by: Obamacrat | May 28, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

In the span of little more than 50 years, we have gone from a presidential candidate who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces to a candidate who keeps telling us what his grandfather and granduncle did in the war. He reminds me of kids bragging on the playground! This is what happens when someone with a thin resume ascends to the top on the basis of charm and God-only-knows what other qualifications.

Posted by: zephyr99 | May 28, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my, how rabidly the Obamaphiles jump to their guy's defense after repeatedly doing their best to trash Hillary Clinton for every comment she makes.

By the way, Obama stretched the truth in his memoirs by creating composite characters and adding fictional details to make his story more interesting.

He has also repeatedly padded his resume by falsely claiming he's a former law professor, and the record shows that Mr. Clean has been an old Chicago style politician with the best of them throughout his limited career.

Posted by: ichief | May 28, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

i'm still wondering how obama's great uncle , who was in the navy, helped the army in buchenwald concentration camp

Posted by: truthisn'tobama'sforte | May 28, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's the problem with politics:

McCain is too old - he will die in the White House.

Obama is a racist and a liar.

Clinton is manipulative and has a win-at-all costs attitude.

Therefore, I don't like any of these candidates. What does this tell you. Well old white people, black people, and a woman will not solve America's problems.

We should turn to a Mexican.

Maybe someone like Antonio Villaraigosa.

Posted by: Independent Voter | May 28, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who feel that it is simply imperative that Senator Obama is familiar with the various concentration and death camps that existed in Germany during World War II, it seems to me, are making much ado about nothing.

It is possible to even MAJOR in History at any American University and only take a broad survey course that touches upon World War II in very general terms. Once at Harvard Law, one would not take any history courses that would involve an in depth study of World War II.

Are you really asking Senator Obama to fact check what amounts to a family oral history? Does mixing up the facts lessen the point that he is trying to make?

All of our candidates have areas that are blind spots, if you will. Senator McCain readily admits to not being an economics genius.

We're not electing the next Sherman Peabody, folks, we are electing a leader.

Posted by: John D in Houston | May 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama just made an honest mistake.

I'm part of the local chapter of the KKK. After Obama sat in a racist church, he inspired me to join a racist religious group as well.

Obama will bring change to America. It is time to end the hate toward bigots. Bigots are people to. Hate should be tolerated.

And I don't like Jewish people. One concentration camp is the same as another. Amen, Obamacrat, I like your anti-semtism. We need more hate if we are to change America.

Posted by: Joseph from Iowa | May 28, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

McCain isn't Harvard-educated, so maybe you don't hold him to the same standard as Obama, but if this is worth three to four Pinnochios, surely the following is too:

In John McCain's speech today he says something very very puzzling:

"Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades."

So McCain thinks that the President of the United States has been negotiating with the Iranians for the past two decades? Huh? Does McCain not understand that the stated policy of the U.S. government since April 7, 1980 has been to NOT TALK TO THE IRANIANS. And that we have not negotiated with Iran over their nuclear weapons program.

Source: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_05/013808.php

Posted by: Crust | May 28, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, Seth, I sit corrected myself. But the central facts still remain.

Posted by: EdA | May 28, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

McCain is fundamentally confused about US policy towards Iran over the last quarter century. Ho hum. Obama confuses two concentration camps in WWII. Initial reaction: Red alert, red alert. Four Pinnochios (subsequently downgraded to three). Well, at least you didn't give McCain a Gepetto for getting recent history wrong.

Posted by: Crust | May 28, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I am 79 years old, I had a cousin on Christmas Island on December 7 1941. We did not have a clue where he was, we hardly knew where Pearl Harbor was. Give this man a break. I was never in the Military, but I did lose two of my friends in Korea in 1952, one was 19 the other 21. Both were only sons, and there families were forever devastated. My late son was Number 92 in the Vietnam draft. He never was called for service, but died of Cancer at age 42. He left a wife and three young sons. Whatever Obama remembers is part truth, part History, and part family fiction. Stick to the facts. We won that war, but lost the peace. We are still occupying Germany, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Our leaders need to learn diplomacy.

Posted by: lighthorse | May 28, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama's uncle was in the Red Army - I figured.

Posted by: RangerDan | May 28, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I'd prefer that my President remember on the spot who liberated Auschwitz, but I'd require that they know whether Iran supports Al-Qaeda...

Posted by: BCC | May 28, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

As a tourist I visited a death camp. Idid not wonder what kind of labor the victims were supposed to have performed.

Posted by: crmowski | May 28, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Evil Empire | May 28, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Its absolutely shameful how Obama attempts to associate him with some distant uncle to make himself patriotic. Obama why must you always use your other people to define yourself. I guess if your uncle represents your "patriotism," then Rev. Wright and his "God D!!! America" represents your racism.

Here's a tip for you Obama. If you're trying to pander to the Jewish vote, why don't you at least try to have your concentration camps straight.

You disgust me, we don't need your politics of hate.

Posted by: Last American Jew | May 28, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

This was ONE PINOCCHIO material at best. Obama did not come out and say "Americans liberated Auschwitz", nor was his mixup relevant to the story he was telling. It was not a conscious lie, just a name mixup when recounting a family story during a Q&A session. And unlike Hillary Clinton with her Tuzla thing, Obama only made this mistake once. Who is to say that his grandfather didn't talk with Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz? Obama made a minor mistake by mixing up the names, but he wasn't trying to deny history. The Fact Checker has really taken a credibility hit on this one, three Pinocchios is way too much.

By the way, where were you when John McCain claimed that Ronald Reagan never negotiated with Iran? Did he completely forget about the Iran-Contra scandal? Obama wasn't even born when WWII happened, Iran-Contra happened while McCain was in Congress. If Obama gets three Pinocchios for this, McCain should get about 10 or 20 for that whopper.

Posted by: Existenz | May 28, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Pinocchios are also for those who make statements passing them off as true but recklessly without knowing whether or not the statements are true. This is actually what "veritas", the Harvard motto, is taught to mean at Harvard. Attorney General Henry Gonzales showed us that. The head of the Obamacrats has been habitually guilty of recklessness and half truthery without any concern in the world, and he won't swear on the Bible. God help the United States of America if this immature confabulator should actually be handed the power.

Posted by: Niet Waar | May 28, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Verdict denied.

You are confused about what it means to "claim" something. Obama stated that it was Auschwitz, but which concentration camp it was had very little to do with the story. It simply isn't relevant.

You claim that it perpetuates a myth about what America did during World War II, but that would only be true if his *correct* statement would have done something different, which it would not have.

So, it would be nice if you just admitted that his error pushed one of your hot buttons about WWII history, and leave it at that. That would be a respectable position.

But to claim it still ranks 3 just makes you look foolish and petty. Which I guess is your right.

Posted by: Eric | May 28, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm too annoyed to read all the comments, so I don't know if anyone addressed this.

First, in reference to the quote from 2002. That is absolutely irrelevant. He makes no claims about what his grandfather did or did not do other than talk to other soldiers. Is it really that big a stretch to think that Russian soldiers talked to American ones about what they saw at Auschwitz? Really? The only relevancy is if you assume that Russians weren't fellow soldiers, which at the time they were. Arguably you could say that he meant his fellow soldiers told them about their personal experience, but that's stretching it at best and clearly not strong enough to support your broad indictment.

Thus we are back to you making a broad claim about his historical knowledge rather than accepting the possibility of a simple mistake. The Pinocchios on this compared to other (and FAR more relevant flubs) like the Shia and Sunni comments (which were repeated several times) are ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

This was a sad but all-too-predictable response from Mr. Dobbs. Instead of manning up and admitting that this was indeed a very minor error on the part of Sen. Obama, Mr. Dobbs backpedals and drags his own totally irrelevant personal experiences in Europe as a "justification" for finding Sen. Obama's misstatement to be disproportionately severe. Sorry, Mr. Dobbs, but for most (probably a good 80% or more) of us non-international-correspondent average Americans, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald and Dachau are largely interchangeable names that all mean pretty much the same thing: a Nazi death camp. The honest response would have simply been to admit that your initial response of awarding three Pinocchios was excessive and may have been prompted by personal bias on your part, givn your own history. Instead you devoted an entire column trying to justify your own lack of evenhandedness.

Verdict: Four

Posted by: whatmeregister | May 28, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

"What's next, Truman dropped the A-Bombs on Germany?"

Hey - according to Obama, his grandfather, who was commander of US forces around the world, dropped it on Poland.

That's why Obama had no idea that Auschwitz was in Poland - he thought it had been wiped out.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

"And to Jewish people who refuse to vote for Obama because he mistook one concentration for another, get real. Every concentration camp was the same."

That's why we are not voting for Obama. Every concentration camp is not the same. I lost relatives in Auschwitz. That word has a meaning unlike Treblinka, or Bergen-Belsen, or Buchenwald (which, is, for the uninformed, pronounced "Book-en-vald").

Auschwitz has a special meaning for the Jewish people. It would be the same for Christians as confusing one hill for Cavalry, or for Muslims by confusing Mecca and Medina. Except those are single places, where one event occurred. At Auchwitz, more than 2 million Jews were murdered.

This is why I, as a Jew, will never vote for Obama. And many of my fellow Jews I have spoken to, who normally would never question voting for a Democrat, will either vote McCain or stay home. It is because of things like this that will cause Obama to lose this election. And unless you are a Jew who knows his or her history, you should not be fluffing this off.

Posted by: A Jew Who Hates Obama | May 28, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - that should have been "Calvary."

I wonder how many Christians would be offended if a Jewish presidential candidate made such a mistake. Plenty, I would bet.

Posted by: A Jew Who Hates Obama | May 28, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

This was a sad but all-too-predictable response from Mr. Dobbs. Instead of manning up and admitting that this was indeed a very minor error on the part of Sen. Obama, Mr. Dobbs backpedals and drags his own totally irrelevant personal experiences in Europe as a "justification" for finding Sen. Obama's misstatement to be disproportionately severe. Sorry, Mr. Dobbs, but for most (probably a good 80% or more) of us non-international-correspondent average Americans, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald and Dachau are largely interchangeable names that all mean pretty much the same thing: a Nazi death camp. The honest response would have simply been to admit that your initial response of awarding three Pinocchios was excessive and may have been prompted by personal bias on your part, givn your own history. Instead you devoted an entire column trying to justify your own lack of evenhandedness.

Verdict: Four (insert appropriate clipart character emblematic of failing to own up to an obvious mistake here -- four Hillarys, perhaps?)

Posted by: whatmeregister | May 28, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Checker. You're digging a deeper hole for yourself every time you try to justify this.

John Boehner got two Pinocchios for taking three words ("this constant sore") so out of context as to make it seem as if Obama said exactly the opposite of what he really said. Has Boehner apologized for this yet?

John McCain got two Pinocchios for "distorting history" (your words) regarding talking with world leaders and appeasement. And he's still going around saying the same thing, isn't he?

But Obama gets a big three Pinnochios for misstating the name of a particular concentration camp. And then he acknowledged his error and set the record straight within 24 hours.

Moreover, your justification is completely irrelevant to the issue about which Obama was talking. Obama was not trying to make a point about the role of the Soviet Union (or America) in WWII.

I think it's about time that you reveal your own political orientation, Mr. Checker. If you're going to have the arrogance to sit as an unbiased Arbiter of Fact, your readers deserve to know where you're coming from.

P.S. Your response to "H", above, is ludicrous. To say on the one hand that you don't like to accuse people of lying while simultaneously using as your rating icon a fictional character who is the poster boy for lying goes beyond disingenuous.

Posted by: WillytheKorn | May 28, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker is a disgrace.

Admit your error and correct your rating.

Posted by: Ben | May 28, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I encourage this new found thirst for history at the RNC, particularly in their new found interest in Auschwitz. After all it was Bush's grandfather Prescott who was managing director of Silseian American, the iron and coal mining supplier to Hitler, the Enron of Poland. And it was upon this operation that the death camp was built. And Prescott Bush and great grandfather Bert Walker were also managers of IG Farben, which supplied the poison used at Auschwitz as well as serving as conduit for the formula supplied by Dupont for converting coal to gas, without with, Hitler could wage no war. And it was the Polish government's discovery of bogus bookeeping at Silsian to avoid royalties that threatened to sieze Bush's company. Panicked, he contacted Allen Dulles, Hitler's Wall St. lawyer and Rockefellar nephew who assured Bush, Hitler would take care of the problem. Hitler invaded Poland, giving distinct orders that corporations of "our American friends" would not be harmed or siezed. Prescott Bush, Bert Walker, the Dulles brothers, the Harriman brothers and most of the industrialists of Wall St. funnelled the 400 million to get Hitler into power in the 30's through UBC bank on Wall St. of which Prescott was again managing director. Just like Bin Laden, Saddam, Pinochet,etc. Ironically, and sickly, after WWII the US War Reperations Board awarded Prescott, traitor, 1.5 million for his losses at Auschwitz which he reportedly plowed into oil. And Dulles became the first director of the CIA. So press on Republicans, lets have some more history lessons. Maybe we can all learn a lesson that the robber barons have been playing us for fools more than a hundred years, installing madman dictators in places where they can steal the resources, then supplying the war machinery we bloody ourselves with to remove these tyrants. Millions and millions die, while trillions and trillions pour into their banks and what do we learn from history?

Posted by: greenispeace | May 28, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Dobbs,

You appear to be saying that Pinnochios are awarded for both lies AND mistakes, because it's difficult to assess motivation.

And you're saying that you feel it's OK to give out Pinnochios for "untruths" whether they are lies or mistakes, because you are hereby redefining the Pinnochio symbol to stand for "untruths", rather than "lies".

In other words, it's OK to award Pinnochios for mistakes as well as lies, because it's not your INTENTION to call a person a liar.

But, as you readily admit, Pinnochio is a recognized symbol for LYING. So regardless of YOUR motivation, you are calling someone a liar when you award them with a Pinnochio.

HM.

Doesn't that very logic implicate YOU for Pinnochio awards? And if so, how are you qualified as a "Fact Checker?"

This whole line of reasoning doesn't seem to be logical OR ethical. And it could result in your column becoming more inflammatory than informative.

*Why not replace the Pinnochio symbol with a symbol that could reflect both lies AND mistakes. That way you won't be implying that anyone is a liar, when they may have simply made a mistake.*

At the very LEAST, if you continue as you are, you need to add a clear disclaimer EVERY DAY - with no link necessary - like the one above saying that Pinnochios are awarded for mistakes as well as lies. Not really sufficient, since you're redefining a known symbol to try to make it work, but better at least.

And how about declaring openly which candidate you prefer and having supporters of the two other candidates display THEIR ratings as well?

Whatever the case, you need to do SOMETHING to demonstrate better credibility for your ability as a fair "Fact Checker".

Posted by: Alice | May 28, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow. You made a stupid post and then you made it worse by not apologizing, but defending your stupid post. From two comments (hell, maybe it's from a hundred, it doesn't matter) you have extrapolated a claim that the United States wasn't the only fighting force in WWII. He didn't say that. You just wanted to cover your ass after being wrong, and it's stupid.

Posted by: Stampson | May 28, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Fact Checker,

You admit that, "Granted, most people associate the Pinocchio symbol with lying, but I am using it to express the telling of an untruth, which is slightly different."

Um, then why use a *Pinocchio* symbol, which clearly labels someone a liar?

This is exactly the same "telling of an untruth (often to your advantage)" that you criticize...

Posted by: Carl Campos | May 28, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

To "A Jew Who Hates Obama":

And of my stepmother's extended family, everyone except her and her brother were wiped out. At Theresienstadt, near Prague. How dare you say that one concentration camp is more "special" than the others. Are you suggesting that the millions of of Jews who were killed in some other concentration camp weren't important? How about the Gypsies, Catholics, Communists, political opponents, people with disabilities, and God only knows who else that were killed in the camps? Do they count?

Great Evil is Great Evil, no matter who does it, to whom, in whatever place, at whatever time.

Posted by: WillytheKorn | May 28, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker is a joke.

Posted by: Tom S | May 28, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

How this rates 3 Pinocchios is beyond me. For many Americans, Auschwitz is synonymous with Nazi concentration camps. Obama's misspeak shows that he will need to be careful retelling family stories. I'm not aware of any recent politician who hasn't made a similar gaff. As for crying uncle about the "uncle," many families refer to all extended family members as cousins, aunts, or uncles whether they be "once-" or "twice-removed," "great," or even "sainted." This kind of mistake is vastly different than misrepresenting memorable events in one's own life, such as an event where you thought you and your child might be in mortal danger. And it's a bit different the Dan Quayle's alleged assumption that knowing Latin would come in handy on a trip to Latin America. At worst, it was sloppy moment for Obama. How 'bout another rating system for "sloppiness" to include mispronunciations (nucular) and misspellings (potatoe), bad calculations, run on sentences, run away answers, and just plain foot-in-mouth moments? Of course, for those who can't let another's mistake go unanswered...hold them to their own standard! And how about a rating system for those who gracefully admit their errors. Maybe it would start a trend!

3 Smudges to Obama for sloppiness
3 Nose Clips to Dobbs for smelling a rat where there wasn't one
3 Logs-in-Eyes to those who love to dish it but can't take it

Posted by: Lacey | May 28, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I would think that if someone in my family did such a great thing as being a part of the liberation of the Nazi Death Camps I might make a mental note of which camp it was they helped liberate while hearing the story. Auschwitz is definately one of the better known Death Camps. Most Americans recognize the name more then others. I don't trust Obama and my gut tells me that this was a deliberate mistake. You would think that after making the same claim years ago that he would have been corrected the FIRST time and would have remembered it. Secondly, if I was Obama's great uncle I would feel a little insulted that he forgot what it was I did.

On another note shouldn't our President have at least basic knowledge of our nation's history? Bush has been frightening enough with his blind cluelessness and idiocracy on so many matters...Obama, the Harvard graduate, doesn't have historical facts stright, let alone a historical fact that occured in his own family. I don't know about anyone else but that speaks volumes to me.

Lastly, there seem to be quite a few posts about the rating system...Let it go people. The arguement is that Pinocchio should represent someone who lied knowingly and not for someone who told an "untruth." That's not really the issue and it's not very important. Shouldn't we be debating and sharing information over something that may or may not be an issue that actually has an effect on our country? Pinnochio is not hurting anyone's votes.

Posted by: Christine | May 28, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Christine:
He didn't make the same mistake years ago, in that quote he was not saying that his father liberated the camp, rather that he heard stories about what his fellow soldiers saw- which the Russians at the time certainly counted as.

I also made the earlier anonymous comment about this same subject at 7:01.

Posted by: James C | May 28, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

This is more crap. American soldiers dying in Iraq all the time, economy in the crapper, global warming, gas prices (and profits) off the charts, and the big scoop is that Obama was mistaken about which concentration camp his great uncle liberated?

Here's a fact check: the Washington Post is posting crap just to sell advertising. How many Pinocchios is that worth?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Saying it once is a mistake. Saying it twice or three times is a deception.

Sounding more and more like sniper fire.

Posted by: Sicka Obama | May 28, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I still don't buy your explanation for assigning 3 Pinocchios to Obama for what most people know was a mistake. There was nothing deliberate about his mistake. He wasn't seeking to gain any advantage, and didn't gain any, by saying Auschwitz rather than Buchenwald. The underlying facts are correct but he mistakenly said Auschwitz rather than Buchenwald.
I have to assume that, because of your background "as a foreign correspondent in both the Soviet Union and Poland" (PLEASE NOTE: the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore!), you have a pet picking-bone issue and are just focusing on that, but it's not a picking-bone issue for most people.
The fact is that the vast, vast, vast majority of people couldn't find Germany or Poland on a map of Europe never mind find either Auschwitz or Buchenwald. I was born in Europe and I didn't remember the difference. For crying out loud, most people in the US don't even know the difference between the locations of Washington DC and Washington State!
So, while it's fair to argue that it was careless for Obama to refer to the wrong concentration camp, your awarding of 3 Pinocchios implies that he deliberately lied. There was no lie here, unless you're lying about being impartial.

Posted by: jfkeanewa | May 28, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse


Yes, let me get this straight. Hillary and Bosnia: liar. Obama and Auschwitz: mistake. Just like he didn't know about Wright's sermons before he knew about them.

Hello, McCain. I hope you are taking a good look at that female governor of Alaska.

Posted by: Catherine | May 28, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

just a reminder that the point of the story was about PTSD, and no matter which camp his relative had helped liberate, the PTSD appears to have been very real, so he's sympathetic to the current situation with returning soldiers.

Posted by: letsbepeaceful | May 28, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Try again, Catherine.

Obama. Makes an inaccurate statement. Is called on it. Issues an admission of having mis-spoke and corrects the record. Issue closed (except for Fact Checker and Catherine and JakeD). Even the Republican National Committee has accepted his admission and correction.

Clinton. Makes an inaccurate statement. Several times. Is called on it. Makes statement again. Others on the trip tell what really happened. Clinton ridicules them. Finally after I forget how many days (three? five?) and when confronted with videotape, grudgingly admits that it didn't happen the way she said. Attributed her error to a single statement she made late at night when she was tired.

Do you now remember how it happened now?

Posted by: WillytheKorn | May 29, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone find the records of the supposed great uncle? What i found on other sites that he was in the Navy. There was no Charles
Payne in the 89th

Posted by: Andrea | May 29, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Did anybody find the great uncle? There was no Charles Payne from Kansas in the 89th, there was one in the Navy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Obama and Auschwitz, Part II

Don't see where all the controversy is coming from, the name was wrong, however, the occurrence acually happened. Then too, Obama came back and informed us of the correct name. Occurrences of such happens, but the contact was factual.

Posted by: Nisey01 | May 29, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

One thing people miss in why this matters is because he specifically chose to use the name Auschwitz to greatly inflate the importance of the events and by extension his family and himself.

Who in the general public has heard of Ordhruf but, on the other hand, everyone knows Auschwitz. This is because Auschwitz was the MAIN extermination camp for Jews, where between 1-1.5 million people were exterminated, by far outstripping any other camps in the number of deaths. Ordhruf doesn't even make the list of Nazi concentration camps below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nazi-German_concentration_camps

It's like claiming that your ancestors fought and won in the Battle of Gettysburg (one of the most important battles and with the highest name recognition) when it turns out that it was some minor skirmish elsewhere instead.

This isn't a matter of just getting some names mixed up and confusing some history (bad enough for a president anyway and the US education system) but a mix-up (either intentional or not) that greatly inflates the importance of the anecdote being conveyed.

To me, once again, the hypocrisy of the Obama campaign and supports are just astounding. If this were Hillary or McCain, it would be an unforgivable sin, such as (Bosnia sniper fire or Sunni vs. Shia) but for Obama, "Oh, it's just a simple mistake. Who can remember all those names anyway?"

He told this story for a specific purpose to his audience. It was to inflate his family's (and his) connection to history by co-opting one of the most horrible names of the Holocaust for his own gain.

If he really wanted to talk about PTSD, what would that have to do with concentration camps anyway, oh yeah, to imply that his great-uncle was a participant in one of most important acts during WWII.

What a fraud.

Posted by: john_ccy | May 29, 2008 4:42 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting that the same statement gets a radically different rating from PolitiFact (Mostly True). I would point out that the speech that was cited to "prove" that Senator Obama had previously claimed US liberation of Treblinka and Auschwitz actually says that his grandfather "talked with fellow soldiers who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka" - there is a great deal of ambiguity in that statement. I know that many US soldiers considered the Red Army soldiers to be "fellow soldiers" - there is nothing to indicate that the Senator's grandfather might not have met and heard stories from Red Army soldiers. For that matter, 60,000 Auschwitz survivors were moved from the camp as the Soviets approached, 45,000 surviving the march to be put on trains to other camps. It is possible that some of those Auschwitz survivors were in camps liberated by forces of the Western Allies, creating a similar confusion of language.

I do agree that the confusion of who liberated what parts of Europe is a continuing demonstration of American ignorance. I would like to have all the candidates state their history correctly. However, I find Senator McCain's repeated errors regarding current events in regards to Al Qa'ida, Iran, Shi'a and Sunni to be far more serious - and received only a two Pinocchio rating. If Senator's Obama's errors about which camps were liberated rates three Pinocchios, surely Senator McCain's repeated errors about a situation that he has claimed great expertise rate at least the same.

Posted by: Gregg | May 29, 2008 5:38 AM | Report abuse

You have reached the state of being overblown on this subject.

Posted by: vcsmith | May 29, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

LOL! Did any of you Obamaniacs DEFEND Bush's infamous "sixteen words" (at least he said "British" rather than try to imply "American" intelligence discovered Saddam's plot) or not? See how far you get with Joe Wilson or Valerie Plame by pointing out that Bush did not "lie" either.

Re: Obama -- VERDICT UPHELD!!!

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

With dues respect to john_ccy and also Wikipedia - lists in Wikipedia are by no means exhaustive. (Perhaps one could challenge Schindler's List because there is no listing of the Krakow/Cracow ghetto on the same Wikipedia list?) Searching in Wikipedia for Ohrduf brings up a long-standing article on the Ohrduf concentration camp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohrdruf_forced_labor_camp

Clearly stated in various places is the fact that Ohrduf was a sub-camp of Buchenwald (or part of the Buchenwald network) - at a guess, the list cited by john may have only been intended to list the parent camps of networks. Pointing out it is not on the list implies it is not significant, a point debunked by the visit of Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley eight days after liberation of the camp (and before German surrender). This was an important discovery and one that sickened many who found it. I have heard veterans who made liberated camps (even "minor" ones, as if concentration, labor and death camps can be "minor") talk fifty years afterward - it made a profound impression and they were, justifiably, proud of what they did. Senator Obama's great-uncle probably is as well - the implication of non-importance by a failure of Ohrduf to appear on the Wikipedia list is curious, at best.

Posted by: Gregg | May 29, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Clinton has taken Kentucky and Obama is right there in Oregon.
The Democratic race for nomination is still very much alive - and most likely to be decided by superdelegates - as CNN points out clearly

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/20/primary.wrap/index.html

If you're tired of waiting around for those super delegates to make a decision already, go to LobbyDelegates.com and push them to support Clinton or Obama

If you haven't done so yet, please write a message to each of your state's superdelegates at http://www.lobbydelegates.com

Obama Supporters:

Sending a note to current Obama supporters lets them know it's appreciated, sending a note to current Clinton supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Obama, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Obama. It's that easy...

Clinton Supporters too .... !

It takes a moment, but what's a few minutes now worth to get Clinton in office?! Those are really worth !

Sending a note to current Clinton supporters lets them know it's appreciated, sending a note to current Obama supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Clinton, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Clinton. It's that easy...

Posted by: feeba | May 29, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Fact Checker is feeling a bit defensive today.

It is hard to amit mistakes.

Posted by: Scott | May 29, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The problem here is that people don't seem to understand the fact checker rating system. Three pinocchio's is given for "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions." It makes no distinction between "with intent to deceive" and "due to ingorance." And truthfully, that is probably correct because don't want the author of the fact checker to pass judgement on exactly what Obama was "thinking" while he made the error. In truth we don't know what he was thinking. Obama did make a significant error, and it is good to point it out to inform the public of the historical events.

I would like to add that the fact checker also says in its Basic Principles that "We will focus our attention and resources on the issues that are most important to voters. We cannot nitpick every detail of every campaign speech." I have a hard time seeing how this is significant to voters, and it seems much more like a nitpick when you're soley fucused on the name of the camp.

My opinion is that if the fact checker rates this comment, it has to be three pinocciohs, but I think it was too small of an issue to raise in the first place.

Posted by: Green | May 29, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps, we should not award Pinocchios but something more appropriate

Three Dunce Caps

Three Hammer and Sickles

Three History Books

Posted by: UncleVanya | May 29, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.
--Barack Obama, October 2, 2002.

THIS is making that claim again? "HE HEARD STORIES OF FELLOW TROOPS". That is the same claim? I'm shock the Post employees you.

Posted by: Green | May 29, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

These are the three presidential candidates we get. One, thinks Al-Queda is in Iran... with his almost entire candidacy based on foreign policy experience and the "War on Terror", the other thinks the U.S. liberated Auschwitz and mentioning it to boost up his "foreign-policy and patriotism-cred", and the other has been caught in too many lies and deceptions to even list.

Looks like more of the same. 16 years of Clinton/Bush lying and deceiving the public. I guess Americans are used to it. We shouldn't expect anything less.

I think they all deserve 5 Pinocchios.

Posted by: Ashamed citizen | May 29, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey, it's his column, he can award his doo-dads based on any criteria he wants. You don't have to read it or agree with it and you can always write your own column.

For me, the problem is that criticizing an American, any American, Presidential candidate or not, for their lack of historical knowledge is like having a foot race with a three year old. Too easy to win and pointless.

Posted by: David | May 29, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

What's funny here is that even people who think that they know history really don't. First of all, 10 million died in the Holocaust. 6 million of them were Jews. I'm always puzzled when people seem to want to restrict the Holocause to only those crimes committed against Jews.
Second of all, any attempt to portray the Soviets as liberators or heroes is sickening. One of the biggest misconceptions of WWII is that Germany and Japan were the only aggressors. Apparently people are completely unaware of the list of countries invaded by the Soviet Union prior to Germany's invasion of Poland. (See Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland. )

Posted by: Big History | May 29, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Barrack Obama's embellishment is much like when Hollywood embellishes movies for greater effect. e.g. in the Ophrah Winfrey produced movie "The Great Debaters", Wiley College debates Harvard in the movie's climax. In real life Wiley debated USC. Defeating Harvard elicits more of a dramatic accomplishment than USC (although I'm sure USC would disagree). But doesn't this embellishment lessen the achievement of Wiley's debate team in real life?

Does Mr. Obama think that Auschwitz is a more dramatic (and interchangeable) name/camp than Buchenwald? That it would give him more credibility for his uncle to participate in liberating Auschwitz than Buchenwald? Mr. Obama should give his audience more credit as to their intelligence (when he speaks down to them) in knowing history and geography.

He should remember that many veterans walked out of (or never even bothered w/) Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor" due to historical inaccuracies. Americans prefer the truth when it comes to history.

Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with Green on this one, while Obama is incorrect, and it may irritate some, the name of the Concentration Camp isn't germane to the point he was trying to make, nor is it germane to any other issue that is liable to come up in the current presidential contest. Since the name of the concentration camp is the only material error reasonable people have been able to point to during this long argument about the event, (I'm purposefully disqualifying the handful of zealots who are trying to claim his great uncle was in the Russian navy at the time with the use of the word "reasonable" here.)I think the fact checkers position collapses. He should have never started down this road.
I just chalk it up to Obama running a campaign that is so much more honest than either of his opponents that the fact checker has too nitpick to find fault. If he didn't, people would have accused him of being in the tank for Obama based on the fact he rarely can take issue with that the man says.

Posted by: dijetlo | May 29, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Dobbs, you're a smug, self-important jerk. You've changed the entire argument for awarding the 3 Ps the first time around. When you realized that your initial argument was wrong, you've manufactured an entirely new one to affirm your wrong-headed original error. You're pathetic.

Posted by: Sam | May 29, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I didn't know it was Soviet troops, not American, that liberated Auschwitz. So I guess that would have made me a liar, too.

Or maybe just mistaken. I guess there's no room in Mr. Dobbs' universe for an honest mistake. There is, however, room for lapses in medical ethics that just happen to result in innocent people contracting syphillis, and lying to people about their syphillis while withholding treatment because you want to see how the disease -- for which there's a cure -- progresses in BLACK people.

I endorse what Alice said, particularly this: "Whatever the case, you need to do SOMETHING to demonstrate better credibility for your ability as a fair "Fact Checker"." Mr. Dobbs, in my view, no longer has credibility. The whole point of the column should be to call out polticians who twist the facts to suit their ends. Unfortunately, as has been shown over and over, Mr. Dobbs is more than willing to twist the facts to suit HIS ends, and therefore, cannot be taken seriously.

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 29, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm--so the basis for criticizing Obama is that he has mistakenly distorted history in a "pro-american way"---that diminished the Soviet's loss---I had no idea he was such a Neo-Con.

Posted by: PacMan | May 29, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

gbooksdc:

I don't want to get into the whole Tuskegee things again, but you at least realize that Dobbs is NOT calling Obama a "liar", right?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

...what I find appalling is that factually, Ohrdruf was a forced labor camp that didn't participate in "Jewish extermination" (although many atrocities occurred there). Auschwitz though, WAS a Jewish extermination camp.

One might extrpolate that Mr. Obama used Auschwitz to garner Jewish votes where as a mention of Ohrdruf would not.

It seems to me that Mr. Obama's "oversight" was pretty calculated.

Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Add my name to the long list of people who think you are totally wrong about this.

For whatever reason, Senator Obama gave the wrong camp name, but in every other way he was correct in his story: his Uncle (Great Uncles are still Uncles) helped to liberate "a camp".

It is very likely that this is just a simple name mix-up on his part. It might have even been his family that over the years got the names mixed up and he had no reason to question their story.

So one pinoc seems callled for. More than that seems grossly unfair, since you have previously given only one pinoc or no pinocs for people with much bigger mistakes than this.

And your justification for your score seems very forced. Please, just count to 10, re-look at the facts again, and then admit you over did this one. We will forgive you.

Posted by: RawleyCoop | May 29, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

RawleyCoop:

You don't seem to think it is likely that Obama's "oversight" was pretty calculated.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Bob and Theresa Williams:

The detail was NOT "immaterial" -- the subject was a Memorial Day speech in which someone supposedly running for President does not even know enough AMERICAN history to graduate from high school, maybe even 6th grade -- the reason we use "Harvard-educated" is to imply that someone who has attained that level of education is PRESUMED to have done well in prior schooling. As to PTSD, specifically, how do we know that a close family member suffered from it or whether his uncle, and therefore his whole family, falsely claim such an experience?

HJB, Minnesota Nice, Jsilverheels, MDK, enkidu1, EdA, lynnette, fake JakeD (and gbooksdc if you are still reading):

Dobbs never said "Obama is lying." Who knows, maybe he truly believes that we liberated Poland during WWII. The Pinocchio system is clearly defined, above, and whether you would prefer that the Fact Checker "diversify to distinguish between being wrong and lying" or use some other symbol is pointless.

paul_lukasiak and Seeking Intelligence in DC :

The Obamaniacs are getting a bit silly, I agree ; )

against the DLC:

Did you also vigorously argue that there was "no internal contradiction" is Bush's State of the Union reference: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"? You are aware that McCain offered his own version of the GI Bill too, right?

mimi362:

Kinda sad, considering Dobbs is simply pointing out the truth, huh?

JR:

My "logic" is completely consistent and, if the election were held today, I would not vote for John SIDNEY McCain either.

Seth:

The statement at issue: "I had an uncle who was one of the, um, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family is that when he came home he just went up in the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months."

I would not suggest that Soviet and American troops were ever "fellow troops", but that's not the issue here. Let me know if you are still around today and want to discuss further.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I am fascinated by how much a person's middle names can tell you about him or her. In fact, I cannot imagine a more revealing piece of information to learn about someone. What are all your middle names? Enlighten me, so that I may CELEBRATE THEM WITH CAPITAL LETTERS.

-JakeWHYDOESNOONETAKEMESERIOUSLY D.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

LOL (my middle name is "MOORE" but I'm obviously not running for President of the United States ; )

I have never said that Obama's middle name is the most "revealing piece of information to learn about someone" -- in fact, I have stated repeatedly that it is simply one little-known fact -- another one: HUSSEIN means "handsome" in Arabic. Did you know that?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The 1:24 post was not me. Everyone takes me seriously, and all those with whom I have shared my obses- uh, keen interest with middle names - ESPECIALLY those not of white ethnic origin - and how Repub- uh, conser-, uh "hard working, white" political strategists can use them to imply things which they do not logically support, all of those people agree with me.

-JakeTYRONE D.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"magically ACCEPTABLE threshold"

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama,obviously has a problem realizing that the American people are quite aware of our historical background.He likes to polish his familial resume by exagerating tales of himself or his family in the midst of any and all historical events.For instance,his false reference to his being born because of the civil rights marches in Selma Alabama.When in fact,he was already about four years old when this was happening.However,as usual,no one bothered to point this out to the seventh wonder.One can only imagine the fury with which the Egobamanuts would received this kind of outright lying by Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.The double standard displayed by these nuts is appalling.However if his naive supporters choose to close their eyes and pretend that all is a rosy dream world.That is to their own peril.They are as easily taken in as the ignorant republicans were by Bush in 2000and 2004.Oh well I guess they will have to live and learn.

Posted by: Nannie Turner | May 29, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of embiciles. Get over it.

Posted by: shutup_please | May 29, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

OMG a mistake like this? This guy is not very bright. He loses every debate to Hillary Clinton. He should not be the nominee, that is unless Democrats want to lose to McCain.

Posted by: J.T. | May 29, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If, as you say, your aim is to point out factual errors without making any moral judgment on the error (i.e., accusing anyone of lying), then you absolutely should cease using Pinocchio symbols.

"Most people associate the Pinocchio symbol with lying" because that's what Pinocchio with a long nose *means.* This is like using a middle-finger-raised symbol to indicate a negative vote, although most people associate it with something much stronger.

You are being either dense or disingenuous here. Clearly, giving someone a Pinocchio is to call them a liar, whatever your professed intent.

Posted by: drossless | May 29, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Who are you? Why not put your name to your comments so we can do our fact checking of the purported fact checker.

Chicken s**t!

Posted by: Rick | May 29, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

drossless:

Have you ever seen the cartoon?

Rick:

Are you referring to Mr. Dobbs?

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Bush Apologists would rather crack on the Auschwitz reference so that they can distract from the point of Obama's anecdote - that Bush is an utter failure to our men in women in uniform. He cares about them only when they are fighting his illegal war, but he spits upon them, and mistreats them when they come home and need our help.

Posted by: Bush Apologists are Fascists | May 29, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Your awarding of Pinocchios over this one is a wonderful example of the idiotic depths to which both our political process and journalism have sunk. This is obviously NOT an example of a politician making up facts - say, for example, claiming to have landed under fire in a war zone, ducking sniper fire as she ran across a landing strip. This is an example of someone mixing up the name of the World War II death camp his uncle helped liberate with the name of another World War II death camp. I'd be willing to wager that the vast majority of Americans Obama's age or younger - the vast majority of college educated Americans Obama's age or younger - couldn't name a single death camp, let alone not confuse their names.

The only people to whom the names of the individual death camps really matter are those killed in the camps - and obviously the names no longer matter to them, the survivors of the camps, the the survivors' survivors. To the rest of us what should matter is that there were death camps, that the world turned a blind eye on them, and that we should all be doing everything we can to prevent the blossoming of that kind of evil.

Posted by: Geppetto | May 29, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Apparently those of the ilk of "Jake" above have been tormenting the elderly/volunteer webmasters of the 89th Division's website.

They have finally responded by putting information about Charles T. Payne, Senator Obama's great uncle, on their main page.

The text and photos are deeply disturbing and it is no wonder that Patton vomited upon seeing the human suffering there - as is discussed on the site - or that what we now know was PTSD, suffered by C.T. Payne on his return, became a well-known family story in Senator Obama's youth.

I urge naysayers to take a moment and honor the 89th

http://www.89infdivww2.org/
Here is an internal link that will allow a visitor to navigate through sobering text and photos.
http://www.89infdivww2.org/ohrdruf/liberate.htm

Veterans continue to need assistance with the after-effects of war. I was glad to hear of Senator Obama's willingness to discuss this difficult subject in response to a listener's question - regardless of his recollection of the name of the camp in answering that questioner.

Posted by: puffmeister | May 29, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

And "JAKED" means drunk nearly beyond coherence -- which shouldn't surprise anyone who has read his posts. I wonder if he's still beating his wife?

Posted by: drossless | May 29, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I've never beat my wife -- see how easy it is to answer simple questions -- I guess asking whether someone's actually seen the cartoon "Pinocchio" is too much to bear.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Sen. Obama Tin Foil Hat Brigade is really at home here isn't it?

Posted by: Truth | May 29, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

You should be embarrassed for awarding Pinocchios for such a trivial slip.

Based on the standard you are applying here, will you award three Pinocchios to McCain the next time he starts addressing a crowd with 'My friends...'?

Posted by: bobcn | May 29, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

bobcn:

Per the POSTED Rating Scale" -- Three Pinocchios: "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions" -- this says nothing about a duplicitous intent or any other nefarious motivation. Feel free to explain why John SIDNEY McCain addressing a crowd of supporters as "my friends" would qualify for "Three Pinocchios".

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The response to this is classic..my fellow Americans cannot fathom that not only does our government lie to us, but our History books are so biased it's not even funny. We always try to take more credit than we deserve and like to cherry pick our history to make us always look like the "Good Guys". America, if you remember sat on the sidelines for much of WWII not wanting to get involved until Pearl Harbor - which in a few years you will find out, we actually allowed to happen - trust me, the truth is out there but it is not allowed into the U.S. yet.


Stop being so naive to think that what we were taught in school about he U.S. was not Pro-U.S. propaganda. Our books are more fairy tales for the children than they are fact and that is clearly evident in how they describe what it was we did to the Indians...ignorant naive and just plain stupid is what this country has become - challenge me on my patriotism - I dare you! I love what this country stands for, unfortunately we do not practice what we preach and that is why we need major changes in this country but instead of the people coming together to demand change and inspire others to engage - I am sure we will get the typical response - "If you don't like it, leave!" How far we've regressed!!!!

Posted by: Anthony | May 29, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

OMG a mistake like this? This guy is not very bright. He loses every debate to Hillary Clinton. He should not be the nominee, that is unless Democrats want to lose to McCain.

Posted by: J.T. | May 29, 2008 2:31 PM

Please explain how he loses every debate. Please explain how someone wins these so-called debates that ask about nonsense that has nothing to do with the presidency and everything to do with RATINGS! and getting the ignorant hicks in this country all riled up so they don't need to use their brains. - (i.e. Senator Clinton, do you prefer diamonds or pearls? Senator Obama are you a Yankee or Red Sox fan? Do you support Aborton? - P.S. that will never have anything to do with the President - it's a states issue not the executive branch's issue, Senator Obama, do you like Sen Clinton etc etc etc THESE ARE NOT DEBATES - THEY ARE MEDIA SHOWS AND RATING GRABBERS)

Posted by: Anthony | May 29, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

As I said, thank you for upholding the verdict. It should be determined whether Barack HUSSEIN Obama's great-uncle really did participate in the liberation of 'the concentration camps' (upon which the PTSD claim was based ; )

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2008 1:40 PM

WHAT DOES OBAMA'S MIDDLE NAME HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? Do you really think it matters? you must since you capitalize it. Is a man's middle name supposed to dictate who he is? I guess I'm mafia since mine is Salvatore...better watch out, you might just wake up one day with a horse's head in your bed or a dead fish on your doorstep - IGNORANT FOOL!

BUT PLEASE DO TELL ME WHAT YOU HOPE TO INSINUATE BY INVOKING HIS MIDDLE NAME IN CAPITAL LETTERS. WHAT'S YOUR MIDDLE NAME JAKE?

Did you know that the actual meaning of the name Hussein is: A Good Man ???

Did you know he was named after his father who abandoned him when he was 2 years old and left him to be raised by his WHITE mother and WHITE grandmother in rural WHITE Kansas???

Or are you simply putting your racism on display for all of us to see????

Posted by: ANTHONY | May 29, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

How many Pinocchios were awarded to McCain when he confused the Suunis and Shiates while speaking in the middle east basically lumping them all into one category - Al-Quada and then had to have Liebermann whisper in his ear to correct him - talk about no foriegn policy experience! keyword policy. But to some of you I would be willing to bet your reaction is "well heck, they're all the same to me - Towel-Heads - bomb 'em all back to the stone age!" Ignorance must be bliss!

Posted by: Anthony | May 29, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Obamacrats has been habitually guilty of recklessness and half truthery without any concern in the world, and he won't swear on the Bible. God help the United States of America if this immature confabulator should actually be handed the power.

Posted by: Niet Waar | May 28, 2008 6:26 PM

Here we go another ignorant American who actually thinks Obama is a muslim who sworn in on the quran instead of the bible...you ignorant fools - let me make this perfecvtly clear to you - STOP BELIEVING CHAIN EMAILS! - Obama is NOT A MUSLIM, he DID NOT swear in on the quran, but on his OWN BIBLE! (i laugh when people think he's muslim and then berate him for attending a chrisitan church - which is it, you can't have it both ways folks!)

Get your heads out of your you know what and start educating yourselves with facts instead of ignorant partisan smear emails

Posted by: Anthony | May 29, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I have answered every one of your questions before. If you can't find those please let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

JakeD follow this link to Obama's Great uncle http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/9609.html

Posted by: dewces | May 29, 2008 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker:

Thankyou for your considered explanation of your reasons for awarding 3 Pinocchios.

We do well to remember the crucial, heroic sacrifices the Soviet people made towards defeating Hitler's Germany.

My great-uncle, an Austrian Social Democrat, was an inmate in Dachau. (survived WWII, liberated by the Americans)

My wife's great-uncle was an Officer in the Polish Army, held as a P.O.W. for a time in Buchenwald, then later moved to Dachau. (murdered)

Several of my brother-in-law's relatives (Polish Jews) were murdered in Auschwitz.


What does it matter who liberated which camp, why they were run, how many died? After all, the camps were equally, monstrously, horrifying.

I am in sympathy with such sentiments - up to a point.

That point is when a politician, any politician - Barack Obama or President Bush - casually references the Holocaust for political gain.

President Bush was rightly chastised for pandering to his political base when he referenced the Holocaust (he compared Democrats to appeasers) in his recent address to the Israeli Knesset.

Was Obama pandering? I don't know, but the fact he didn't get this detail right suggests he might have been.

Posted by: Czernowitz | May 29, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Curioser and Curioser, Mr. Dobbs. As the nuns used to tell me when I was a little (American) girl in Italy, I think your nose is growing.

You are upset that Americans are unaware of Soviet losses in the Second World War, and particularly annoyed at Fred Thompson's ignorance. So, when Obama talks about PTSD in the context of U.S. soldiers who liberated concentration camps, and erroneously names the most infamous of them, you give him three Pinocchios?

Even if, as you somewhat speciously claim, Obama has reflected American jingoism with regard to WWII, that wasn't the point of his story -- he was thanking our veterans and hoping they could be better served by our country.

If nothing else, the absurd and hysterical comments you've received in support of your position should alert you that you've lost perspective. (And I still think you were spun by a campaign or two).

Posted by: Helen | May 29, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I was at another site and they investigated Obama's "imaginitive uncle," Charles Payne, who allegedly freed the jews. She said according to the US military record Charles Payne served in the Navy not in the Army. Therefore, it seems his uncle was no where near any of these concentration camps.

"What is your reaction regarding Obama's story about his uncle?
This will prove his integrity and honesty which is a core of public service.

INFOS:

He said he has an uncle on his American side (he don't have an uncle because his mother was an only child).

...who is among the liberators of the concentration camp in Auschwitz (American troops are not the ones who came to free prisoners from Auschwitz concentration camp).....

His "uncle" whom he is saying is named Charles Payne. He is an uncle of his mother, therefore Payne is Obama's grandfather)...

And according to the Records of the US military, there is one named Charles Payne that hailed from Kansas but he is not a member of the Infantry division that liberated Auschwitz nor Bauchenwald nor Dakhau concentration camps)..

According to the records of the US military, Charles Payne is a member of the Navy. (How can a member of the navy will go to Auschwitz nor Duchenwald to release prisoners? Common sense, The ones who released prisoners from those Concentration camps are the ARMY"

Posted by: LindaRod | May 30, 2008 1:10 AM | Report abuse

LindaRod -

As I mentioned before PolitiFact (another fact-checking website) has actually researched this. Short version is that C.T.Payne, who is Senator Obama's great uncle as confirmed by his son, was in the 355 Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division - the unit that liberated North Ohrduf camp on 4 April 1945.

Here is the link to their story:
http://www.politifact.org/truth-o-meter/article/2008/may/28/right-soldier-wrong-camp/

The fact that, with over 16 million in the military by 1945, it isn't all that surprising that two men with the same first and last names served in different branches. In today's much smaller military, I have seen situations where two people with the exact same name are in the same unit. For that matter, in the 1980s there were seven other people in the San Francisco phone book with my name. Coincidence of names has little bearing on this story.

Posted by: Gregg | May 30, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

You don't make a claim about Auschwitz and mean another camp. All of the camps were bad, but this one was the worst of them all. Barak knew what he was doing. You can tell by the way he hesitated at first and said, "um." He knows that the word "Auschwitz" will bring sympathy. Most people know about that camp compared to the other ones.

Come on people, wake up. You really want him to be our president? What a joke. Saddly, he has been able to brainwash a lot of people in this country. It scares me to know how easy it is...

Posted by: Devin Bruster | May 30, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

So, he gets a point of history wrong.
I think you're too hard on this. Nothing shifts if you replace the proper name into his comments.
OTOH, McCain's ignorance of the differences between Shia and Sunni would have grave consequences if he were ever to decide American policy WRT Iraq.

Posted by: Mistake | May 30, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The Results Are Shocking!

http://www.votenic.com

Run by a kid.

Posted by: Vlad | May 30, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

This looks like a much more balanced and complete Fact Check - including reasearch (OMG!). In general I've been very pleased with this series (from the St Petersberg Times): http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/may/28/right-soldier-wrong-camp/

Reading three Pinochios for Obama saying the name of the wrong camp from over 60 years ago seems way out of whack. Certainly if he had said Buchenwald there would be no story at all.

There's no way his key point was a history lesson about Auschwitz. His points were about the atrocities of war and the (lack of) support veterans endured in our past. His uncle "just went into the attic, and he didn't leave the house for six months. ...at the time, there just weren't the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain"

Posted by: Matt in KC | May 30, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Reply to Gregg | May 30, 2008 3:04 AM
who said:
In today's much smaller military, I have seen situations where two people with the exact same name are in the same unit. For that matter, in the 1980s there were seven other people in the San Francisco phone book with my name. Coincidence of names has little bearing on this story.
-----
I just saw you also posted the PolitiFact hyperlink (I did too a few mins ago).

You reminded me of a bizarre personal story. On a whim visiting the Viet Nam memorial in DC I looked in the phone book sized list of soldiers killed and said to a friend "I want to see if I died in Viet Nam." Well, I have a common name, but there was only soldier killed with my name, and he was killed on my birthday (same day and year). I was glad my friend was with me to hear and see what happened. I was kinda creeped out for the next day.

Posted by: Matt in KC | May 30, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

My husband has quite a few family members who were in Auschwitz - and several died there, including some of his very close relatives.

Neither my husband nor I felt that Obama's mistake was a lie, nor did either of use see it as having "bigger" implications.

Further, it seems truly odd to me to get into a "was a camp where lots of people died of disease and starvation and shooting and overwork and grotesque medical experiments better than Auschwitz" kind of contest.

Obama's recounting strikes me as the kind of story that someone gets from their family members, as a child, and does not fact check BECAUSE THEY ARE A CHILD AND IT'S A FAMILY STORY.

For heaven's sake, if my spouse, who had several close relatives who died there, isn't offended, why are those who are not so directly touched blowing this up into something it isn't?

I am sure if I tried to recount family stories about Auschwitz and those who lived and those who died, something I have been told or something I remember is not quite right - because it's a family story, not something I'm putting in a doctoral dissertation with footnotes.

I really think calling this a lie is extremely misleading.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | May 30, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"As a Jew I am sensitive to issues of the Holocaust. But even to me confusing the name of the camp Obama's great uncle helped to liberate is at worst a minor factual error -- the sort of thing which is not uncommon in all family folklore. What really bothers me is that by giving this three Pinnochios, you are effectively reducing the honor and thanks that Obama's great uncle truly deserves. Anyone who liberated a camp is a hero in my book. To give this three Pinnochios gives the impression that nothing in Obama's story was true. But the facts tell a different story. Acknowledge the minor nature of the gaffe and give Obama's great uncle the respect he earned by reducing this to one Pinnochio."

Posted by: Ben | May 27, 2008 5:45 PM

This may be the most important post that I have seen regarding this subject. I 100% agreee that by giving this story 3 pinocchios you are tarnishing the honor of a true American hero, which is completely unacceptable. For shame Mr. Dobbs, for shame.

Additionally, if Obama was giving a speech about WWII, concentration camps, hitler, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc. etc., or anything else remotely close to an historical account, then your rating would be reasonable in some sense. Considering that he was speaking about PTSD, your rating is abominable.

And I maintain, as I did in a previous post, that you should research your stories before you write them, especially if you are going to seize upon factual errors as grounds for pinocchios (which is logically indefensable), or at the very least award yourself pinocchios for your own factual errors. The notable one in this story came with your first post when you did not bother to research Obama's family member before writing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow today you made up a reason, that some how Auschwitz changes the impact of the story. When you are in a hole stop digging. His Uncle liberated a concentration camp, your ridiculous Pinocchios(which imply a deliberate lie) trivialize the story. Admit this is a ridiculous posting. You were willing to give McCain 2 for getting wrong how many troops are in Iraq, for making up success. You need some real world perspective, leave the beltway every now and again.

Posted by: Julian | May 30, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, your high standards do you credit, but realistically our three remaining candidates would all be disqualified, and I suspect so would many past presidents, including some we wouldn't want to have done without. With due respect, your analogy itself isn't up to snuff. Our dropping the A-bomb on Japan is absolutely singular - not something the Russians did or we did elsewhere that would allow for confusion.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 30, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

If slighting another party, e.g. the Red Army, is an aggravating offense that earns more Pinocchios, our objective moorings have slipped loose.

Leaving that aside, I appreciate Mr. Dobbs sharing with us interesting details from his impressive experience.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 30, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The Uncle/Great Uncle thing is totally bogus....I never remember saying to my Grandmother's sister, "Hey GREATaunt Ann, can I have another piece of cake, PLLEEAASSE?".....It was "AUNT Ann, may I have another piece of cake?....that's not even worth the wart on a Pinochio's nose, let alone 3 full P's.....

Posted by: Jay | May 30, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I have got to say I think this is a minor slip, as posted above, it could be Obama's family told the story wrong. Someone on the Obama staff should check facts, but I have a strong interest in history and I didn't notice the error. It does nothing to alter the truth of the story or the point he was making post traumatic stress syndrome.
McCain's misstating troop levels is far more of an error for the military expert in this campaign to make.

Posted by: S Davis | May 30, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I think this post was ludicrous because it isn't necessary to explain your previous award. Most people's complaints here aren't about anything substantive, their complaints are you calling out their guy.

Look, Obama slipped both on the name of the concentration camp and on the title of the relative who did it. It's hard to mess up that many times in one sentence and still be willing to say it to a bunch of veterans.

If you're going to play the WWII card, then you better at least get the facts right, especially if your point is the trauma of war. John Kerry on a swift boat thinks Obama needs to review his facts before telling adventure stories.

I love this column! Stay classy.

Posted by: Perry C | May 31, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Americans may not have been the dominate power in WWII, but one cannot deny their importance. Winston Churchill also said the American soldier is overrated, overpaid, oversexed, and thank god he's over here. One can argue who did the most all they want. The Soviets gutted them, but the US broke their back. In addition, the 101st Airborne division liberated a concentration camp in Dachu, and Patton's armored division liberated one in Buchenwald. So by this we can assume he was ill-informed or perhaps even negligent in his facts, but to call him an outright lier is a bit unfair. My father was a tank driver in Patton's 6th armored division when they liberated Buchenwald, and he backed up what I have read on the conditions of the prisoners. The guards left weeks before and they had no food or water, no real shelter and were basically used as slave labor under the most extreme torture and starvation until they died. By that example I call them death camps as well.

Posted by: gslack | May 31, 2008 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Fact Checker,
Dissappointed you can not even spell the camp name correctly. It is OHRDURF, not Ohrdruf as you have above?? Typical Investigative journalism from a desk jockey!
Like many you are trying to picture the work camp [ not death camp] as a type of modern day prison, in discrediting any allied veteran who liberated it, and the poor souls who lost family and friends there .
I enclose a link to one picture that says it all. Anybody would suffer from PTSD having been part of a liberating army.

http://tinyurl.com/6p5qgm

Posted by: noparticularaxetogrind | May 31, 2008 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Again reading your article I see you place emphasis on Obama not giving correct details in mixing up 2 concentration camp names, where you can not parrot any facts correctly.
Personally I wonder about your status as a human being, let alone a newspaper hack. You recieve many minuses in that respect

Posted by: noparicularaxetogrind | May 31, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I am with those who think 3 Pinocchios is 6 times too many for this episode. I called by great uncles, "uncle" so any hulabaloo over that is ridiculous to me. the original comment had to do with PTSD and exposures to horrors of war. According to my mom my great-uncle that served in WWII, Uncle Worth, served as a medical corpsman because he was a conscientious objector willing to serve but not willing to kill. I dont know how true this claim is but if I ran for office I suppose I would have to put a researcher on this so I would nt be roasted by the right wing ranters and their running dog, the fact checker. This story should have faded when Obama said the uncle was involved in Buchenwald not Auschwitz, not in a defensive post about how so many Americans know nothing about sacrifice of Soviet Union during WWII. The fact checker should given Obama a dunce cap and gone on; I begin to think the Fact Checker like the Decider (Bush) and the Fonz cannot admit making a mistake.

Posted by: djw3505 | May 31, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Obama claimed that his uncle liberated Auschwitz. He does not have an uncle. His campaign then said that it was his grandmother's brother-Charles W. Payne. The truth is Obama's great uncle was in the NAVY.

Charles W. Payne, born 1924, enlisted 10Nov42, Navy, 6293977 Registered, order #12019, Kansas City, Wyandotte Co., Board #4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmci9nTuCkg

Posted by: Joe | May 31, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It's one thing to tell an old war story that you may have heard 2nd or 3rd hand about a great uncle or grandfather that liberated this or that death camp, but it's an entirely different thing all together to outright lie about how many troops we have in iraq like mccain did.

Of course if you count privately contracted mercenaries in iraq right now, its more than double the "government workers" in the us military over there, but that's besides the point.

Posted by: Dave Kliman | May 31, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

You are really stretching to give Mr. Obama 3Ps. You are actually taking his words into a direction that he did not intend NOR did anyone in his audience probably conclude (for the first time at least).

I disagree with your twisted logic. The man mispoke...from the stories that were handed down to him since he was a kid no doubt.

I don't think I will be visiting your site any more...not sure what your "agenda" is here.

Posted by: amenzoser | June 1, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Joe -

You really should spend just a bit of time looking at some of the other posts here. You started out OK - the individual soldier was, indeed, a great-uncle not an uncle. Several other people have pointed out that as a non-issue and I can add the odd looks I have gotten from people when I refer to my great aunt - they consider such a relative simply an "aunt." Enough said on that. Not sure where you got that Obama campaign said it was "Charles W. Payne" - my examination of their statements is that they said it was "Charles Payne." As is actually investigated by PolitiFact, Charles T. Payne (in some records as C.T. Payne):
1) is Senator Obama's great-uncle;
2) served in the United States Army;
3) was in the 89th Infantry Division;
4) was on a muster sheet for Company K, 355th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Division on 11 April 1945 - one week after that unit liberated the North Ohrdruf concentration camp.
I will (again) include the link to their site in the (perhaps vain) hope that those, apparently including Joe, who seem to prefer sloppy research that gives answers that fit their prejudices will actually look at facts:
http://www.politifact.org/truth-o-meter/article/2008/may/28/right-soldier-wrong-camp/

Posted by: Gregg | June 1, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I am simply appalled by Fact Chacker's statement that "most people associate the Pinocchio symbol with lying, but I am using it to express the telling of an untruth, which is slightly different."

Jesus Christ! "Telling an untruth" is not merely "slightly different" from lying.

How could anyone be respected as a "Fact Checker" after writing such an absurdity - and refusing to acknowledge that Pinocchio represents LYING. If you're not sure that someone is lying, then you don't call the person a liar.

Posted by: Biographer | June 2, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

noparticularaxetogrind | May 31, 2008 6:33 AM

Dissappointed (sic) you can not even spell the camp name correctly. It is OHRDURF, not Ohrdruf as you have above?? Typical Investigative journalism from a desk jockey!
========================================

The spelling is Ohrdruf not Ohrdurf

see www.ohrdruf.de

or check out the German Wikiepedia at
www.wikipedia.de. Search "Ohrdurf" (your spelling); see if you retrieve anything. Then search "Ohrdruf". Hab' Ich recht?

If you are going to be pedantic, then try at least to get it right.

I am disappointed;-(

===========================================

• AUSCHWITZ was an EXTERMINATION CAMP liberated by the SOVIET ARMY.

• BUCHENWALD was a forced-labor camp liberated by U.S. Forces.

The distinction between extermination camps (Auschwitz) & forced-labor camps (Buchenwald) is actually important to remember.

To elide the difference "because all concentration camps were bad places where Jews were murdered" dishonors the memory of both LIBERATORS & VICTIMS.

1. Not all of the victims of concentration camps were Jews (other victims murdered in concentration camps by the Nazis included Gays, Soviet & Polish POWs, the mentally disabled, French & German political dissidents, Communists & others...).

2. Not all of targets of Hitler's pseudo-scientific extermination & euthanasia policies were Jews (other targets included the Roma & homosexuals; the Slavs were targeted for enslavement in a future Nazi, race-based international order).

3. Although the European Jews were not the ONLY victims of Nazi racist policies, the European Jews WERE UNIQUELY targeted for GENOCIDE, i.e. DELIBERATE & COMPLETE destruction based on pseudo-scientific racist criteria: the total annihilation of an entire community - every Jewish man, women or child, regardless of country of origin, regardless of national or ethnic self-identification.

By collapsing the distinction between extermination camps & forced-labor camps, we obscure the unique & disproportionate suffering of the Jewish community under Nazi persecution - but we also dishonor (by seeming to forget) Hitler's other victims.

Posted by: Czernowitz | June 2, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Czernowitz -

Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau, etc were part of the Nazi concentration camp system - a system designed for systematic genocide of the Jews and elimination of Gypsies, homosexuals, Freemasons, and many other singled out by the Nazis as enemies of the "Aryan Nation." However, this system went beyond murder and even genocide - the system was designed to extract maximum value for the victim before the eventual murder of the individual or genocide of their ethno-religious group. This system was also part of a plan, as you indicate, to make all of Eastern Europe (to the Urals and the Caucasus) into a vast "Aryan" empire while enslaving the native Slavic populations (and eliminating the Jewish population).

While Buchenwald was a forced-labor camp (as were its satellite camps), where any extermination was more incidental than deliberate, Auschwitz-Birkenau was actually three camps - one administrative, one extermination and one forced-labor. So the distinctions between Buchenwald and Auschwitz do, to some extent, depend on which part of Auschwitz one means.

I think it is important to remember that these all of these camps were part of one vast, evil system where people were worked until or murdered, depending on what was considered more worthwhile to the Nazi overlords. This system relied on both parts - labor and extermination camps - continued functioning to keep the system working.

For many of our current debates, it is important to remember that the Soviet gulag and other prison systems do have similarities to the forced-labor camps of the Nazis, however the extermination camps and the vast system of death remain, thankfully, unique in human history.

However, I am not sure how any of this applies to Senator Obama's speech where he said "Auschwitz" when he should have said "satellite camp of Buchenwald" when he was addressing the psychological impacts of the horrors his great-uncle had seen in Europe. It is sobering to consider the impact that Auschwitz must have had in 1945 when one observes that the horrors of this Buchenwald satellite camp were enough to make General "Blood & Guts" Patton vomit.

Posted by: Gregg | June 2, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Michael,

It is obvious from your clarification that you have a deep knowledge of and great concern for the facts surrounding the liberation of the Nazi death camps. However, I don't think it is fair to take out your frustrations on Senator Obama, especially as it is obvious that the intent in his remarks was not to "perpetuate the myth that Americans played the dominant role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II", but to instead honor the service of our veterans.

Might I suggest a different rating system than the "Pinocchio"? You state above that, "Granted, most people associate the Pinocchio symbol with lying, but I am using it to express the telling of an untruth, which is slightly different." Using the "Pinocchio" as a unit of measurement inherently implies LYING - ask any 8-year-old about this and they will confirm it. It is a very loaded term.

Posted by: jps78 | June 2, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

One more example of your peculiar metric;

While awarding three Ps to Obama for citing the incorrect camp when the camp wasn't even the point of his story, you give Clinton only two for her completely contrived "popular vote" argument.

If you were a teacher, you'd be canned.

Posted by: Helen | June 3, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Yet Hillary only gets 2 pins for telling the obiously debunked lie that more people have voted for her. The people have spoken?

Every political number cruncher will tell you that is an outright lie...

Except for Karl Rove of course

Posted by: Mary | June 3, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Gregg | June 2, 2008 1:52 PM

Please note my conclusion:

"By collapsing the distinction between extermination camps & forced-labor camps, we obscure the unique & disproportionate suffering of the Jewish community under Nazi persecution - but we also dishonor (by seeming to forget) Hitler's other victims."

That's all I hoped to convey.

You note:

...I am not sure how any of this applies to Senator Obama's speech..."

I agree. It doesn't apply to his speech.

My post doesn't address Obama's misstatement. I was prompted to write by bloggers who seemed to think that noting the distinction between extermination camps and forced-labor camps was somehow immoral.

I found this politically partisan plea to "forget" the full complexity of the Nazi concentration camp system by conflating the roles different types of camps played in implementing the Nazi world view - distressing.

That's all.

Best regards

Posted by: Czernowitz | June 3, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Gregg | June 2, 2008 1:52 PM

BTW: To make myself clear.

I think Republican hacks, on this blog and elsewhere, who highlighted the distinction between extermination camps and forced-labor camps, hoping to imply that this somenow diminished the horrors of what was done to people in any of the camps, or diminished the nobility of the soldiers (American and Soviet) who liberated these camps...

...are beyond the pale.

Posted by: Czernowitz | June 3, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Helen | June 3, 2008 12:18 AM

"If you were a teacher, you'd be canned."

========================================

Have you considered that Mike may have been less concerned to use Obama's mistatement to score cheap "political points", then he was to use the occasion of this mistatement as a "teaching moment"?

Auschwitz or Buchenwald are not names to be placed on partisan, political bumper stickers.

At least some of us still think so.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Helen | June 3, 2008 12:18 AM

"If you were a teacher, you'd be canned."

========================================

Have you considered that Mike may have been less concerned to use Obama's mistatement to score cheap "political points", then he was to use the occasion of this mistatement as a "teaching moment"?

I, for one, do not see the point in parsing whether Obama's mistatement deserved one, two, three or six-million Pinocchios.

Auschwitz or Buchenwald are not names to be placed on partisan, political bumper stickers.

At least some of us still think so.

Posted by: Czernowitz | June 3, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Why are people being rewarded Pinnocchios, if not for lying, fibbing, fabricating or something similar? This columnist should not be rewarding Pinnocchios for being wrong about the facts on wwII history unless he'll man up and stand by what giving a "Pinnocchio" clearly implies, purposeful deceit. Come on, your explanation at the top sounds like it deserves 4 Pinnocchios to me. Pinnocchio's nose never grew from just being wrong on the facts, so don't throw that baggage on somebody unless you think they are doing it intentionally.

Posted by: Monty | June 3, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Czernowitz -

Thank you for your response to my post and for your thoughtful posts. I didn't think we were disagreeing much, if at all.

Posted by: Gregg | June 4, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Gregg | June 4, 2008 1:21 AM

Gregg-

Let me thank you in turn for your thoughtful, deeply informed posts.

Best regards,
John

Posted by: Czernowitz | June 4, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

McCentury McCain-Bush III Mission Accomplish Republican Failures.

America, Europe and the World are tired of selfish short sighted and backwards thinking Republican Super-capitalistic failures.

No more Republican Wall Street failures (Oil, Wars, Wall Street nose dives, grand larceny or Our Treasury, lies, lies, lies, pathological lies) destruction of Our Country and the World.

America, Europe and the World need healing through Harvard Scholar and future thinking Barack Obama.

Barack Obama will unite America, Europe and the World in friendship and cooperation.


America, Europe, Asia and South America are looking forward to cooperating and working with Barack Obama.

Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates
Harvard Scholar Beats Navy Crewman in Intellectual Debates

Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar
Navy Crewman Requests Dictionary During Debates With Harvard Scholar

Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III
Harvard Obama Intellectually Defeats Old Navy McCain-Bush III

Posted by: McBush Failures | June 4, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

What about McCain confusing Sunnis and Shiites in a country we currently occupy?

Posted by: Quack | June 10, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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