Saturday, March 18, 2006
Bush and the Straw-man
An AP article brings Bush’s ability to mischaracterize Democrat positions, to light.

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic.

Bush isn’t the only person that has this problem. It really seems like every Republican in the world commits the straw-man fallacy. In the last few days, I’ve even seen some Conservative blogs say that Liberals would rather live in North Korea and then create an argument about why America is better than North Korea. It’s mind numbingly interesting to watch Conservatives do this, actually. It’s kind of my hobby.

The downside to all of this, of course, is that some moderates may view the Democrats as nutty because of these straw-man arguments.


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