The Rise of the Straw-Man

Others have shown how much the current administration uses the  “straw-man” argument.  For those who may not know, that’s when you falsely claim that your opponent believes something ridiculous and then shoot that non-argument down. 

To give just one example, President Obama used this technique when he said: “In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis—the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems…”   I am not aware of anyone, of any political persuasion whatever, who believes that “tax cuts alone will solve all our problems.” 

So to take the straw-man phenomenon to new levels, John Farmer of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote an article (or blog entry; I can’t tell which) entitled “Suddenly the GOP Wants Active Federal Government”.   In this masterpiece of the straw-man technique he actually has the chutzpah to say that Republicans “(just about all of them) want to reduce government to a permanent vegetative state.”

What rubbish.

I (and most conservatives) want a Federal Government that is highly active, engaged, and effective (which it’s often not)—within the realm of its constitutionally assigned responsibilities.  I also want state governments to be active, engaged, and effective (they’re often not either), in the areas for which they should be responsible.  And in other areas I believe—and the constitution specifically states—that the people are sovereign and therefore individually responsible.

It’s not that we don’t want government, we merely don’t want government doing things that the constitution says they can’t do.  (Oh, and by the way, the Federal government does this all the time:  e.g. the health-care bill.)


4 comments on “The Rise of the Straw-Man

  1. Ben Hoffman says:

    [I am not aware of anyone, of any political persuasion whatever, who believes that “tax cuts alone will solve all our problems.”]

    Are you kidding? That’s the Republican’s answer to everything. Got a recession? Tax cuts are the answer! High health care costs? Tax cuts will fix it!

    Republicans have no solutions because they are the problem.

    • Vox Populi says:

      I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time—or the inclination—to teach you how to read or to think critically. You clearly have not read many of my earlier posts and you entirely missed the point of the one you did read, instead responding with an insult.

      Referring to the specific post on which you commented: the key words in my posting were “alone” and “all”. Certainly I think that tax cuts would be an excellent idea, for many reasons. But I don’t think that they would solve all problems, nor do I think that they are the solution on their own. I think it would be nicer, as well as more productive, if you don’t try to tell me what Conservatives think.

      In the post entitled “Introduction”, I note that this is a blog written by a Conservative for discussion with other Conservatives, and that I’m not really very interested in what leftists think about it. Just in case you’re not clear on the point, that was intended to mean you. Among others, of course.

      In a different post, I note that there is a considerable difference between talking about “Republicans” and “Conservatives.” You might be surprised that I find some of the actions of Republicans highly objectionable, and even inconsistent with the very philosophies and values that I am attempting to discuss. You point out—with unsurprising inaccuracy—that “[t]hat’s the Republican’s answer to everything.” You are talking about “Republicans.” I am talking about Conservatives. You might not appreciate the distinction, but it is critical to understanding the discussion on this blog. If you simply wish to toss about flames, I would respectfully request that you go back to “The Daily Kos”, or The Huffing-and-Puffington Post, or whatever other sites you prefer, and leave us in peace. On the other hand, I would welcome intelligent and thoughtful criticism from someone of a different viewpoint, but your comment certainly did not meet that test.

      I did look at your blog, “The Drudge Retort”. I do not intend to comment on it other than to note that it exemplifies—indeed, it very nearly parodies—one of the things that annoys me most about leftists: rather than addressing ideas, many leftists are very quick to stoop to the personal attack. I have NOT done that in my blog, I do NOT intend to start now, and I do NOT intend to respond in kind—although it is somewhat tempting. However, I cannot resist pointing out that Rahm Emanuel was referring to the left wing of his own party when he called them “[obscenity deleted] Retards.”

      Many leftists frequently call for more “civility” in political discourse. I’m pleased to note that there’s no hypocrisy in your post, since a simple search of your blog found no hits on the word. But neither your comment, your obscenity-laden blog, nor Mr. Emanuel’s comment meet the “civility” test.

      • Ben Hoffman says:

        Nope, I’ve given up being civil with you radical right-wingers. You people have destroyed our economy, destroyed our standing in world affairs, put us deep in debt with your reckless tax cuts, deregulated us into what has resulted in millions of barrels of oil polluting the gulf and killing wildlife in numbers we can’t even begin to fathom.

        No, you right-wingers don’t deserve civility.

  2. Vox Populi says:

    Since Mr. Hoffman was not interested in discussing the topic of this blog, I have blocked him from further comments. I dislike doing this, since I would prefer to have an intelligent debate. But he appears to be incapable of doing so.

    Just for the record, he has things exactly backwards. It is leftists who have destroyed our economy with their insane and reckless spending, it is leftists who have destroyed our standing in foreign affairs, mainly by being unwilling to act in the United States’ self interest. I won’t even bother to comment on his comments about the Gulf oil-spill when it happened on President Obama’s watch and on a rig which the regime gave a safety award… It’s a shame that some people simply aren’t interested in the truth.

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