Counting ships

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In less than two weeks, Americans will elect a president for the next four years — either returning Barack Obama to the White House or opting for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

U.S. politics has always been polarized. And we’ve seen some pretty wild examples of political spin in recent election campaigns.

But few match an interview CNN’s Anderson Cooper conducted with Virginia Gov. Bob McConnell on Tuesday, the day after the third and final presidential debate.

In Monday’s debate, Obama famously mocked Romney’s observation that the number of ships in the U.S. navy is lower than it’s been since 1916.

“Well, we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama retorted, going on to point out that comparing today’s aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines to vessels of 100 years ago was absurd.

Undaunted, Republicans like McConnell, who governs one of the election’s key swing states, was determined to up-end Obama’s words.

The president’s comments were an insult to all sailors who’ve served their country, McDonnell told Cooper, and to Virginia and its proud navy history.

“What I heard (Obama) say was that ship-building and the use of ships is sort of going the way of horses and bayonets.”

Yes, you read that right. He heard the exact opposite of what Obama said.

McConnell then threw out some figures, comparing navy wish lists with actual numbers of ships, and complaining about military budgets.

Cooper followed up: “Gov. Romney’s comments that the navy is at its lowest point since 1916 is also just factually false. You’re well aware that under President (George W.) Bush, the navy was actually smaller in that surface war ships under Obama have gone up 10 per cent.”

McConnell paused.

“The broader point is … and I don’t know how many times the number of ships has dipped below (that of) 1916, but there is a broader point …”

And with that, the governor sidestepped the question entirely, reverting to the shortfall between actual and desired numbers.

“But we’re actually building more ships,” Cooper countered, citing government projections for the next seven years.

Still, McConnell went on about proposed restrictions on military spending, describing them as “crippling.”

“But didn’t Paul Ryan vote for those cuts?” asked Cooper, referring to Romney’s running mate.

Yes, he did, agreed McConnell. But only because he was forced to do that or see the nation default on its debt.

In other words, Ryan did so against his will. But Obama and others did it just to spite the navy?

Slip, slide, distract, ignore. It’s an astounding study in partisan rubbish devoid of — and in direct contradiction to — the facts.

Pundits in Canada have recently remarked how the Harper government is heading down a similar path: decisions based on strict ideology over pragmatism, and contrary to objective indicators — everything from the long-form census to crime bills.

It’s not often we see anything approaching the ludicrous display Cooper encountered Tuesday. But it does happen.

And when it does, it should raise serious red flags.

Geographic location: U.S., Massachusetts, Virginia Canada

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Recent comments

  • Lilacgypsy
    November 02, 2012 - 11:49

    Obviously , McDonnel was looking for his 5 minutes in the spotlight. And what better way than to bash the President.. .My father was in the Marines 23 years, fought at Quadacanal and Korea, My first 4 years of school were on Parris Island Children Depot School. My kid brother was in the Air Force 28 years..he was a Sensor on the Special Ops Spectre AC-150 gun ship, My brother got permission for us to go onboard an AC-150 at Hurlburt A.F. base..It was awesome, Do you think Romney even knows what missions that aircraft has had ?, or what the AC-130 looks like? I have no worries about the U.S. losing stature in the military world...We are the Best!! I think that the President's remark was a great retort, When has the United States never had the best,newest state of the art tecnology? Romney denigrated the Military with that response. Romney deserved that remark, what moron would even try to make a comparison about the Military with an almost hundred year comparison...DUH? .The intelligence of this Gov rivals Paul Ryan who if you remember said after the debate I didnt get the horses and bayonets comparison...A there you have 1/2 of the GOP dream team showing their mettle.. dumb as dirt....

  • mainlander
    October 25, 2012 - 09:06

    Their hatred for Obama is all they see. They don't care about facts or anything else. They just want him out, even if it means sending their country over the edge. I say go ahead and elect Mittens and see we're you'll be in 4 years - further in the toilet than you were after 8 years of Bush.