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Just the Facts, Ma’am (& Mr) – PLEASE

If you knew: (1) which TV classic that line came from, you might be a Boomer – and you might decide this election. Bonus points: (2) Which character spoke that line? (3) Is it accurate? Answers below.

Honesty – or lack thereof – has received attention recently, so let’s compare histories of President Trump and former VP Biden, using our Moderate Leadership Test (MLT). See July 23 and July 30 posts about MLT; and August 6, August 13, and September 10 posts for scores on other Basic Beliefs and Vital Values.

We base our scores on facts, after researching candidates’ records. Please share YOUR scores in Comments below.

TMM’s second Vital Value:

Honesty – always the best policy. America has been served best by leaders who tell the truth.

MLT’s criteria:

Have candidates demonstrated honesty, telling the truth?



In his recent book Rage, Bob Woodward recounts 19 recorded interviews, totaling 10 hours, with Trump from December, 2019 through August, 2020. Woodward reveals Trump repeatedly lied to Americans about the seriousness of COVID-19:

“We have it very well under control.” (January 30)

“It’s going to disappear.” (February 28; STILL repeats that)

“I’m not concerned at all.” (March 7)

But Trump confessed to Woodward he knew better:

“This is deadly stuff. You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. So that’s… more deadly than even your strenuous flu.” (February 7)

Trump’s dishonesty had fatal consequences, since actions that could have reduced COVID’s spread (staying home, social distancing, wearing masks) weren’t taken, costing THOUSANDS more American lives, according to experts:

“Columbia (University) researchers determined if the measures had begun two weeks earlier, then 82.7% of deaths and 84% of infections — or about 53,990 deaths and 960,937 cases — could have been prevented nationwide.”



Arizona’s Kristin Urquiza provided an example:

“My father was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump – and for that, he paid with his life.”




Criminal negligence is defined as “recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences)”. Applicable here, Moderates?

Trump claims he “didn’t want people to be frightened”. Ironic, since he’s tried to frighten us about immigrants, gangs, Antifa, and countless boogeymen.

Even IF he didn’t lie for political gain (trying desperately to keep the economy humming), do we want our president to treat us like children who can’t handle reality – or tell us the truth, then unite us to confront it together?

Republicans defended Trump, saying “you don’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater”. But as Chuck Todd (NBC) responded, “you DO if the theater’s actually on fire”.

Trump told Woodward “nothing more could have been done”. With U.S. deaths approaching 200,000 (most in the world), Woodward, shocked, concluded “the president is the wrong man for the job”.

Trump’s told innumerable lies. Nonpartisan fact-checkers like the Washington Post have attributed over 20,000 falsehoods to him while president.


Trump’s Former Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, said:

“To him a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”



Dangerous, when the most powerful person in the world can’t tell the difference.

Given the evidence, Trump clearly deserves this score:  F



Biden has some political falsifications: plagiarism in speeches, law-school exaggerations, misstatements about civil rights marches, for example.

But Biden’s seem tame compared to Trump’s – and didn’t result in thousands of American deaths.

For example, Politifact documented only 13 Biden False Fact-Checks since 2019 (compared to Trump’s 20,000 since 2016). Example: “Joe Biden’s campaign said he referred incorrectly to ‘military’ when he meant to say ‘Michigan’ in discussing the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.”

Biden’s missteps are offset, partly, by demonstrations of honesty during 7 terms in the Senate.

In 2009, President Obama and VP Biden faced the disastrous Great Recession, demanding sizeable economic stimulus. Factional Republicans blocked Obama, so he assigned Biden to convince three necessary GOP senators to support it. Biden’s reputation as an honest broker, with solid bipartisan relationships, led to stimulus passage – ending the recession within months.




Biden’s ability to negotiate with partisan Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) prevented a federal government default (2011) and a shutdown (2012). A GOP staffer said, “(McConnell) knows that his word is good.




Biden’s relatively minor lapses, combined with honesty while dealing with opponents (rare in politics), earn this score:  B-


Moderates, if HONESTY is a Vital Value to you, decide which candidate is more likely to tell us “just the facts”. Then VOTE.




(1) Dragnet; the original version ran 1951 – 1959.

(2) Joe Friday

(3) No. That line is NOT what he actually said. “All we want are the facts, ma’am” and “all we know are the facts, ma’am” were Friday’s lines when questioning women during investigations.

Images: Google Images

Jack Webb and Harry Morgan: Pinterest

Honesty quote: BeHappy2Day Blog

Woodward and Trump: Washington Post

Kristin Urquiza and father: Goldman School of Public Policy – University of California, Berkeley

Chuck Todd: Charitybuzz

Trump in Oval Office: ABC

Dan Coates: Deutschlandfunk

Biden and Obama: ABC News

Biden and McCain:

Biden and McConnell: The New York Times

Dragnet: The Game of Nerds

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