The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Attack of the Straw Men

Last weekend, the AP released a story chronicling the White House's favorite technique for dodging serious debate: building a flimsy straw man, and tearing it down. It ignores the question, it misrepresents contrary arguments, and it makes G-Dub look like a tough guy. As the article noted, the phrases that should set off your BS detector are "there are those who believe" and "some people say." Guess what we heard plenty of at today's press conference?

*And underneath the surface was this swelling sense of anxiety and resentment, out of which came this totalitarian movement that is willing to spread its propaganda through death and destruction, to spread its philosophy. Now, some in this country don't -- I can understand -- don't view the enemy that way. I guess they kind of view it as an isolated group of people that occasionally kill. I just don't see it that way. I see them bound by a philosophy with plans and tactics to impose their will on other countries.

*Now, maybe some discount those words as kind of meaningless propaganda. I don't, Jim. I take them really seriously. And I think everybody in government should take them seriously and respond accordingly. And so it's -- I've got to continue to speak as clearly as I possibly can about the consequences of success and the consequences of failure, and why I believe we can succeed.

*I think during these difficult times -- and they are difficult when we're at war -- the American people expect there to be a honest and open debate without needless partisanship. And that's how I view it. I did notice that nobody from the Democrat Party has actually stood up and called for getting rid of the terrorist surveillance program. You know, if that's what they believe, if people in the party believe that, then they ought to stand up and say it. They ought to stand up and say the tools we're using to protect the American people shouldn't be used. They ought to take their message to the people and say, vote for me, I promise we're not going to have a terrorist surveillance program. That's what they ought to be doing. That's part of what is an open and honest debate.

*And the United States of America must take this threat seriously and must not -- must never forget the natural rights that formed our country. And for people to say, well, the natural rights only exist for one group of people, I would call them -- I would say that they're denying the basic rights to others.

And it is hard work.

Not as hard as finding "some people" who thinks terrorists are nice guys, that we shouldn't be intercepting terrorist communications, or that some citizens' civil rights should be ignored. Actually, that last one is pretty easy-- just ask yourself which party slapped anti-gay rights initiatives onto the ballots last fall to get out the bigot vote.