NEW YORK - President Bush's boast of a 30-member-strong coalition in Iraq masked the reality that the United States is bearing the overwhelming share of costs, in lives and troop commitments. And in claiming to have routed most al-Qaida leaders, he did not mention that the big one got away.
Bush's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night brought the nation a collection of facts that told only part of the story, hardly unusual for this most political of occasions.
He took some license in telling Americans that Democratic opponent John Kerry "is running on a platform of increasing taxes."
Kerry would, in fact, raise taxes on the richest 2 percent of Americans as part of a plan to keep the Bush tax cuts for everyone else and even cut some of them more. That's not exactly a tax-increase platform.
And on education, Bush voiced an inherent contradiction, dating back to his 2000 campaign, in stating his stout support for local control of education, yet promising to toughen federal standards that override local decision-making.
"We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents and teachers, and making sure that local people are in charge of their schools," he said, on one hand. Yet, "we will require a rigorous exam before graduation."
On Iraq, Bush derided Kerry for devaluing the alliance that drove out Saddam Hussein and is trying to rebuild the country. "Our allies also know the historic importance of our work," Bush said. "About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq."
But the United States has more than five times the number of troops in Iraq than all the other countries put together. And, with 976 killed, Americans have suffered nearly eight times more deaths than the other allies combined.
Bush aggressively defended progress in Afghanistan, too. "Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders ... and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer."
Nowhere did Bush mention Osama bin Laden, nor did he account for the replacement of killed and captured al al-Qaida leaders by others.
Bush's address wasn't the only one this week that glossed over some realities.
Vice President Dick Cheney, trying to make Kerry look wobbly on defense, implied in his speech that Kerry would wait until the United States is hit by a foe before hitting back. "He declared at the Democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked," Cheney said.
New York Gov. George Pataki echoed Cheney's line of criticism Thursday night.
Kerry said in his convention speech, "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." But he also spoke of pre-emptive action in that address, saying a threat that is "real and imminent" is also a justification for war.
In his keynote address, Sen. Zell Miller attacked Kerry for Senate votes against the Navy F-14D Tomcat fighter and the B-2 bomber - the heart of his case that the Democrat has stood against essential weapons systems.
He ignored the fact that Cheney, as defense secretary, canceled the F-14 and submitted a budget scaling back production of the B-2.
Miller also said Kerry has made it clear he "would use military force only if approved by the U.N.," a stretch of Kerry's position. Kerry told his convention "I will never hesitate to use force when it is required" and "I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security."
© 2004 Associated Press