Mailbag: 'Compromise' ratings get readers riled

The latest batch of mail brings both criticism and kudos for our Truth-O-Meter rulings.
The latest batch of mail brings both criticism and kudos for our Truth-O-Meter rulings.

We got a number of e-mails about our rating for a new promise — Obama's pledge that no family making less than $250,000 will see " any form of tax increase ." We rated it Compromise based on a cigarette tax that went into effect April 1; read our reasoning here .

A few readers thought we were too easy on Obama. More said we were too tough.

•  "He CLEARLY broke the promise. I read your analysis. WRONG. He made an absolute binary PROMISE. And he absolutely broke it. ... This is clearly an increase on anyone making under $250k that smokes. He should be penalized for making such unbelieveable sweeping promises, but you give him a pass again. When does he get held accountable for these outlandish promises meant to sway (BUY) voters????!!!! Otherwise, what's to stop him from making ridiculous promises?"

•  "It seems to be that you're deliberately pecking apart his campaign promise on a petty semantic issue. In the context that he delivered it, he was obviously not referring to the excise taxes on lethal addictions, which, unless you smoke carton after carton, is simply not going to have that large of an impact on your ability to get by. Truly, very few will sympathize with the individual whose economic hardship increases because they can't quit smoking. Taking him on his literal word on this incredibly important issue is distorting the Obameter's ability to check Obama's promises."

• "SCHIP is a voluntary tax. If those making less chose not to smoke, they wouldn't be taxed."

We've gotten other complaints about statements we've rated Compromise. These readers argue that a Compromise is actually a Promise Broken.

•  "I am befuddled as to why Promise No. 512 ('Go "line by line" over earmarks to make sure money being spent wisely') was rated compromise rather than broken. When you say you're going to do something, implying every time, and you don't do it one time, that's a promise broken, not a compromise. The same can be said of a couple of other things you've rated compromise. Not to be rude, but I would suggest looking up the definition of compromise in a dictionary."

•   "If I promise to give you $5, but because my wife later told me I am only allowed to give you $3.50, did I deliver on my promise to you, or not? With the current system, I'd get a 'compromise.' Well, in my book, if I promise $5 and deliver $3.50, then that 'compromise' is me failing to live up to my promise. The reason I didn't live up to my promise doesn't matter a bit. I didn't do what I said."

•  "You people are the worst of the worst of liberal hacks. How in the world could you rate his spending bill a Compromise. You are all on drugs. ... Haven't you learned by now that readers won't accept liberal media lies?"

On the other side of the debate, some readers think a Compromise is a sign of wisdom:

•  "Keeping promises in and of itself may not be the best virtue of a president. George Bush, for example, kept to his original vision no matter what the results were. A good leader should be able to change his ideas based on both political realities and new advice. If he is no longer convinced that it's still a good idea, he should not try to keep it. Also, it may cost too much political capital which would best be spent keeping another promise. When people elected Obama, it wasn't for any individual promise — it was for his world view, his character and his approach to problems."

•   "Thoughtful changes in promises are part of what we need from our leaders, changes that are not cheap betrayals but are essential adjustments to changing times in order to keep us safe. So they need to be explained by you, so people understand the skills of being properly flexible. It's not a concept Americans understand well, and yet it's the only way we'll ever make good decisions which are in the middle rather than bouncing between the extremes."

Finally, a little fan mail:

•   "Don’t even worry about those who would bash your neutrality. The fact that you remain neutral is what gives you loyal readers."

•  "I appreciate all the work you at the Obameter (and PolitiFact) do. You research everything carefully, come to rational conclusions, and are willing to revisit old rulings in light of new events."

•  "It seemed there was no place to go to get honest reporting and after hearing about you (on CNN I think) and checking you out I find, to my delight, that I was wrong. Please, in this difficult time in history, keep up the good work. I'm telling everyone I know about you."