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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Trash Talkin' Bushie

People are getting wise to this scumbag:


Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
9:52 AM PST, March 18, 2006


WASHINGTON -- "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.

Another time he said, "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" -- conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic.

Because the "some" often go unnamed, Bush can argue that his statements are true in an era of blogs and talk radio. Even so, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people," Fields said. "All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff."

Bush has caricatured the other side for years, trying to tilt legislative debates in his favor or score election-season points with voters.

Not long after taking office in 2001, Bush pushed for a new education testing law and began portraying skeptics as opposed to holding schools accountable.

The chief opposition, however, had nothing to do with the merits of measuring performance, but rather the cost and intrusiveness of the proposal.

Campaigning for Republican candidates in the 2002 midterm elections, the president sought to use the congressional debate over a new Homeland Security Department against Democrats.

He told at least two audiences that some senators opposing him were "not interested in the security of the American people." In reality, Democrats balked not at creating the department, which Bush himself first opposed, but at letting agency workers go without the usual civil service protections.

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.

Straw men have made more frequent appearances in recent months, often on national security -- once Bush's strong suit with the public but at the center of some of his difficulties today. Under fire for a domestic eavesdropping program, a ports-management deal and the rising violence in Iraq, Bush now sees his approval ratings hovering around the lowest of his presidency.

Said Jamieson, "You would expect people to do that as they feel more threatened."

Last fall, the rhetorical tool became popular with Bush when the debate heated up over when troops would return from Iraq. "Some say perhaps we ought to just pull out of Iraq," he told GOP supporters in October, echoing similar lines from other speeches. "That is foolhardy policy."

Yet even the speediest plan, as advocated by only a few Democrats, suggested not an immediate drawdown, but one over six months. Most Democrats were not even arguing for a specific troop withdrawal timetable.

Recently defending his decision to allow the National Security Agency to monitor without subpoenas the international communications of Americans suspected of terrorist ties, Bush has suggested that those who question the program underestimate the terrorist threat.

"There's some in America who say, 'Well, this can't be true there are still people willing to attack,'" Bush said during a January visit to the NSA.

The president has relied on straw men, too, on the topics of taxes and trade, issues he hopes will work against Democrats in this fall's congressional elections.

Usually without targeting Democrats specifically, Bush has suggested they are big-spenders who want to raise taxes, because most oppose extending some of his earlier tax cuts, and protectionists who do not want to open global markets to American goods, when most oppose free-trade deals that lack protections for labor and the environment.

"Some people believe the answer to this problem is to wall off our economy from the world," he said this month in India, talking about the migration of U.S. jobs overseas. "I strongly disagree."

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie


The president and the straw man
www.salon.com

Asked this morning about Russ Feingold's censure resolution, George W. Bush said that "during these difficult times," Americans "expect there to be an honest and open debate without needless partisanship." If that's the case -- and we don't doubt that it is -- why won't the president help give the people what they want?

Over the weekend, the Associated Press documented the way in which Bush uses "straw man" arguments in his speeches. When the president says that "some say" or "there are some who believe," an unfair characterization of somebody else's beliefs is sure to follow. "The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents," AP reporter Jennifer Loven wrote. "In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position." Having mischaracterized his opponents' arguments, the president "typically then says he 'strongly disagrees' -- conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making."

Maybe Bush wasn't trying to illustrate Loven's point today at his press conference today, but it sure did seem like it. To hear the president tell it, there are "some in this country" who "don't view the enemy" as the serious threat he does. "I guess they, kind of, view it as an isolated group of people that occasionally kill," Bush explained. "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." Likewise, Bush said, when faced with warnings that al-Qaida will use Iraq as a base for destabilizing the Middle East, "maybe some discount those words as, kind of, meaningless propaganda." "I don't," Bush said. "I take them seriously. And I think everyone in government should take them seriously and respond accordingly."

To whom, exactly, was the president referring? Maybe he didn't realize what a threat al-Qaida was back in 2001, but we can't think of a soul "in this country" today who thinks that al-Qaida isn't a serious threat now. And while the president and his aides rushed into Iraq despite warnings that a war there could destabilize the entire Middle East, we can't think of anyone "in the government" today -- except for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, of course -- who would "discount" the threat that the war in Iraq presents now.

But Bush was just getting started. He said he has a message for "people" who say that the blessings of liberty should only be "for one group of people": You -- whoever you are -- are "denying the basic rights to others." And even when the president named names, he seemed incapable of taking anything other than a caricature approach to the ideas of the opposition. Accusing the Democrats of political cowardice, Bush said he's noticed that "nobody from the Democratic 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," Bush said. "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.'" But maybe the Democrats haven't said that because that isn't, in fact, what they believe. As Bush knows, any number of Democrats and at least a handful of Republicans have said that the government should continue to monitor the calls of suspected terrorists, but that it should either get warrants in the process, as current law requires, or change the law to make the president's program legal in the future.

Of course, it's possible that the president doesn't know. It's hard to tell what gets into his bubble -- or up to his "perch," as he described it before he thought better of it today. After all, the president seems to have trouble remembering details of even his own views and accomplishments. Asked how he could portray himself as a captain of fiscal restraint when he hasn't vetoed a single spending bill, Bush said he hasn't vetoed any appropriations bills "because they've met the benchmarks we've set." In fact, he signed into law last summer a pork-laden transportation bill that exceeded the "benchmark" he had set. Talking up the war in Afghanistan, Bush said that there was "no such thing as religious freedom" under the Taliban. He didn't mention the plight of Abdul Rahman, a man who may soon be put to death in Kabul for converting from Islam to Christianity. As Bush expressed amazement over the "interesting debate" about "whether or not this country of ours ought to work to spread liberty," he apparently didn't see any reason to recall that he was once on the other side of that debate himself. And as he congratulated himself for being a "a president who's realistic and listens to what the enemy says," he didn't mention that he once excoriated John Kerry for suggesting that he should do just that.

Bush talked repeatedly today about how "realistic" he is. "I'm talking realistically," he said. "Yes, I'm optimistic about being able to achieve a victory," he said, "But I'm also realistic." We don't know who they are, but we're sure that there are some who disagree.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 12:51 PM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Have you ever heard any coherent,germane and well chosen words from this idiot?or seen him ably defend his "position"in a free for all unstaged debate?

Woe betide the apathetic public for countenancing this oaf and allowing his handlers to ride roughshod over the freedoms,rights and priviledges that our nation has shed blood for in the past.

Don't get me started,'tisn't good to begin drinking this early with my heart.[:(!]
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 01:08 PM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Quote:
30-98 - 3/22/2006 2:51 PM

Have you ever heard any coherent,germane and well chosen words from this idiot?or seen him ably defend his "position"in a free for all unstaged debate?

Woe betide the apathetic public for countenancing this oaf and allowing his handlers to ride roughshod over the freedoms,rights and priviledges that our nation has shed blood for in the past.

Don't get me started,'tisn't good to begin drinking this early with my heart.[:(!]
Yesterday against Helen was pretty and close and it was funny as hell to watch. Sucks when he can't read off of a cue card or memorize the answer to a scripted question.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 01:56 PM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Rush has been doing that shtick for years. He gets really good when he uses these unidentified people to really slander someone.

"My friends, some would say that Jerry Falwell has had sex with his mother in an outhouse. There have been widespread reports that he bent the ol lady over and gave it to her good right there in the two holer. I do not subscribe to such accusations, but it raises the question, what has Jerry Falwell done to cause people to spread these rumors?"

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 05:50 AM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

You liberals are sickos..anti american...and should be relocated to a site soon to be tested with a new updated version of the atomic bomb we will be using on Iran in the near future... I sincerely mean that... I have no pity for your kind. Kvining, and the rest of you are simply like the AIDS virus... you are all deadly, destructive, and although there is no cure for you...we can simply treat you by not electing you to higher office... good luck in 2008... The 52% of the country that knows whats correct will always overpower the dimwits in this country that share your rather childish and harmful views.
Enough said I think....

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 05:58 AM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Quote:
Chucky300 - 3/23/2006 7:50 AM

You liberals are sickos..anti american...and should be relocated to a site soon to be tested with a new updated version of the atomic bomb we will be using on Iran in the near future... I sincerely mean that... I have no pity for your kind. Kvining, and the rest of you are simply like the AIDS virus... you are all deadly, destructive, and although there is no cure for you...we can simply treat you by not electing you to higher office... good luck in 2008... The 52% of the country that knows whats correct will always overpower the dimwits in this country that share your rather childish and harmful views.
Enough said I think....
52%, Dude whats teh percentage of people in the US that do vote. That always cracks me up, Democracy with a capital D but shit for all voter turnout.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 06:00 AM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

That is not my problem that people dont vote. Its funny that they demand the freedoms that come with living in this country but are too lazy to get off their asses and take 5 minutes to tick a vote lever... If thats the reason you are hinting that is giving the democrats a harder shot at taking the white house....thats pretty strange, cosnidering its the democrat voters that are NOT voting....


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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 06:04 AM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Quote:
Chucky300 - 3/23/2006 8:00 AM

That is not my problem that people dont vote. Its funny that they demand the freedoms that come with living in this country but are too lazy to get off their asses and take 5 minutes to tick a vote lever... If thats the reason you are hinting that is giving the democrats a harder shot at taking the white house....thats pretty strange, cosnidering its the democrat voters that are NOT voting....
Perhaps its Nader, turns up each election "vote for me", but why? "I dunno just vote for me" (Stupid Green party)

The Democrats did not win because Kerry is an ass backed by Ted Kennedy and the rest of that old money that do sweet f all to connect with joe average. What you guys need is a good dose of MMP.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-23-2006, 06:05 AM
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RE: Trash Talkin' Bushie

Here is an article that examines the original piece.

AP's Bush 'Straw Man' Story: News Analysis Or Unlabeled Opinion?

By Joe Strupp

Published: March 22, 2006 12:55 PM ET

NEW YORK Did a recent Associated Press story examining President George Bush's alleged tendency to use a "straw man" approach in his speeches cross the line from news to biased opinion? Or was it just a long-overdue, in-depth review of the president's public speaking approach?

The viewpoint, as often happens in Washington, depends on whose blog you are reading, and what you consider opinion and analysis. Still, the article by reporter Jennifer Loven sparked an interesting debate on the blogosphere, and in some newsrooms, over how such an examination of a public figure can cross the line from reporting to opining. Since the piece was not labeled a column, or even analysis, it raised some eyebrows as it veered into a sharp attack on Bush's use of such tactics.

The article has drawn reactions ranging from a supportive mass e-mailing from MoveOn.org to criticism by the conservative Powerline blog and American Federalist Journal. But an AP spokesman says editors want more of these types of wire stories.

The story, posted by AP last weekend, cited the president's habit of using phrases such as "some say" or "some believe" when introducing a viewpoint that challenges his own. One example Loven noted was Bush saying "some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day." She also cited his recent statement that "some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

Loven then contends that "hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions." But she notes that Bush, in presenting opposing views in such a "straw man" way, sets himself up well to fire back, often appearing in defense of his viewpoint or as an underdog.

"The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents," Loven writes about the "some" to which he refers. "In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position." She adds that "he typically then says he 'strongly disagrees' -- conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making."

Loven then quotes others she describes as "experts in political speech" who supported her point that Bush's approach was misleading.

The article, however, offers no comment from Bush supporters or anyone on the president's staff, or gives any indication they were sought for comment. It also does not explore whether such straw-man tactics are common in political figures past or present, including Democrats; although one expert does say "all politicians try to get away with it to a certain extent."

Loven, based in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment Wednesday as she was out of town, while AP Washington bureau chief Sandy Johnson did not return a request for comment.

AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said the piece was "a good way to explain to readers what rhetorical devices people, in this case the president, use to make their point." She also did not believe the article should have been labeled opinion or needed to include any White House comment. "This was not a piece that was critical, it was explanatory," Carroll said.

In a statement, AP spokesman Jack Stokes wrote: "Jennifer Loven's story was one of an ongoing series of fact-checking stories that dig beyond the rhetoric. Editors tell us they want more of these stories." But Stokes did not comment on what kind of reaction the piece had sparked from readers or editors.

On Monday, Washington Post blogger Dan Froomkin called Loven's piece "a bold departure for Associated Press," adding that Bush's straw-man arguments are "extensive and generally unchallenged." MoveOn.org's Media Action sent an e-mail to media outlets urging support for Loven, claiming "some reporters take notes on what President Bush says and don't bother to research what is and isn't true. But the AP took a bold step this week and engaged in exactly the sort of strong watchdog journalism MoveOn Media Action members have been calling for."

Moveon also set up a Web page where readers could find an e-mail address to write to AP and send their support for Loven's piece.

Reaction also came from Loven's critics, such as Powerlineblog.org, the Minnesota-based site that has chronicled Loven going back to her coverage of the 2004 presidential election. Among its complaints is Loven's alleged conflict as the wife of Roger Ballentine, an environmental consultant who has worked in the Clinton Administration and has written for liberal outlets such as New Democrats Online.

"Loven has written some astonishingly biased 'news' articles attacking President Bush," Powerlineblog.com claimed this week. It then called the straw-man piece "a new low" that "masquerades as a straight news article, but reads like a DNC press release." It ends by saying "there must be someone at AP who wants the organization to be taken seriously as a news source. If that's true, sacking Jennifer Loven would be a good first step."

Carroll said Loven's marriage should not come in to play as any kind of conflict. "If she was covering something and her spouse was directly involved, that would be a problem," Carroll said.

At American Federalist Journal, which Powerlineblog.com credits with finding the Loven piece for them, bloggers called the Loven analysis "a partisan hit piece" and "a prime example of egregious bias." The Web site also set up its own page seeking comment on Loven's work, but from critics. As of today, the page had received two comments.
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