Straw Men

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Wow. kikta just sent me an article that questioned the reasonableness of another article, and man, the original article is a completely unreasonable hatchet job.

It purports to show that Bush uses straw man arguments to tilt arguments in his favor. Now, there's two problems with this article. First and foremost, it is presented not as opinion or analysis, but as straight news, and it simply is not. Second -- as evidence it is not -- it contains mostly half-truths and no-truths.

Her lede is, "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently. She concludes the opening with, Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

"Of course"? This is "news"? And her assertion itself is false: we see lots of people assert that every day in the polls, and we see several prominent politicians say it, including John Murtha (who is prominent only because he is saying it, which itself tells you that a lot of people agree with him).

One "expert" the author quotes says, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there." That's false. It suggests only that the antecedent of "some" is of some importance, which could be a result of a large number, or relative prominence: if John Kerry says it, but almost no one else believes it, that usage is perfectly reasonable.

And there's no requirement to name who you are referring to. As far back as our written language goes, people have argued against other unnamed people (see the Federalist Papers for some good examples). What matters is that the views are being properly represented, not that the proponents are named.

My favorite part of the article, shows clearly that this is nothing more than a partisan hatchet job:

Running for re-election against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, Bush frequently used some version of this line to paint his Democratic opponent as weaker in the fight against terrorism: "My opponent and others believe this matter is a matter of intelligence and law enforcement."

The assertion was called a mischaracterization of Kerry's views even by a Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
What's left out is that Kerry used the same sort of straw man attacks on Bush. All the time. And McCain also said that Kerry's characterizations of Bush were incorrect.

This "news article" isn't.

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on March 22, 2006 12:39 PM.

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