By Helene Cooper, New York Times, May 23:
… Now that there is a new team at the White House, guess who is knocking down straw men left and right? To listen to President Obama, a veritable army of naysayers has invaded Washington, urging him to sit on his hands… and do nothing to address any of the economic or national security problems facing the country….
“Here’s the trick: Take your opponent’s argument to a ridiculous extreme, and then attack the extremists,” said William Safire, the former presidential speechwriter who writes the “On Language” column for The New York Times Magazine. “That leaves the opponent to sputter defensively, ‘But I never said that.’ “
The telltale indicators that a straw man trick is on the way are the introductory words “there are those who say” or “some say.”
“In strawmanese, you never specify who ‘those who’ are,” Mr. Safire said. “They are the hollow scarecrows you set up to knock down.”…
On his maiden overseas trip, he shot down one after another in quick succession…. “Some people say that maybe I’m being too idealistic,” he said. “I made a speech in Prague about reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, and some people said, ah, that will never happen. And some people have said, why are you discussing the Middle East when it’s not going to be possible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to come together? Or why are you reaching out to the Iranians, because the US and Iran can never agree on anything?”…
Jason DeSanto, a Democratic speechwriter… said Mr. Obama’s rhetorical device reflected his search for common ground among foes. “Some might say he pushes the various poles of the argument too far to the left and the right to find a middle ground,” Mr. DeSanto said. “It does project his own world view, but it can make him appear more reasonable.”
Exactly. We heard Doug Kmiec banty “common ground” often yesterday, either duped by Obama’s rhetoric or in on the jig. Obama may wax eloquently about this search, but his actions are always that of a far left liberal.
[HT: Karl Rove]