One of the most ubiquitous (and my most favorite to pick apart) argumentative fallacies is that of the Straw Man. The Straw Man Fallacy is a cop-out in a debate wherein if an arguer has no (or insufficient) defense of his own position, he’ll simply argue against a point that nobody is making. In doing so, he can claim victory without ever having to face an actual intellectual challenge.
A favorite example of this from the Left is that of questioning someone’s patriotism. Although we hear from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden about how patriotic it is to pay higher taxes, never have I heard a prominant Republican raise the issue of anybody else’s patriotism. Never. Nonetheless, it is a constant theme of the Left when the efficacy of their policies are questioned to resort to the Straw Man argument that their opponent is “questioning the patriotism” of said Leftist politician.
But then something curious usually happens: in so defending himself, ironically, the Leftist in question actually does raise the question of his own patriotism where otherwise it wouldn’t even be a thought in a voter’s mind. I remember first hearing this bizarre line of accusation during a presidential election several cycles ago and thinking to myself, “Yea, well nobody’s questioning your patriotism. But come to think of it, isn’t it a good idea that we elect someone president who is patriotic? That’s not asking too much, is it? To have a president who’s patriotic? Maybe we should ask candidates about their patriotism. I’d kinda like to have a president who loves America.”
Comes along Barack Obama (who, in spite of his constant drumbeat of anti-American rhetoric as he tours the world, I believe really does love America after all), who’s turned straw man-building into a way of political life. His latest is brought to us from (once again) foreign soil. Not content to simply diss us as “disengaged” and selfish, now we’re bullies.
The quote from The One was: “We’re not simply going to lecture you, but we’re rather going to show through how we operate the benefits of these values and ideals.” The straw man here is obvious. Who, Mr. President, has been lecturing? And who suggested we should?
More importantly, this kind of raises the question: Perhaps Americans don’t want a president who “lecture”s other nations or their leaders about liberty and freedom. But is it asking too much for a president to embrace these ideals at least? To advocate them? We have a president whose reply to those who feel he’s gone too far toward nationalizing the banking system and the automotive industry, who feel his forrays into nationalizing a private health industry, whose profligate spending and borrowing will only further weaken an already hobbled US (and world) economy, is “we won”.
“Lecture,” Mr. Obama? No. We wouldn’t expect you (nor even consider asking you, with the track record you have) to “lecture” other nations or their leaders. But how about if you showed us you believe in American principles in the first place?
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot) from Undisclosed Alternate HQ