Saturday, November 19, 2005

Straw Man Collapse

The straw man strategy has worn thin.

I don't know why, exactly. The dissent-is-treason and you're-with-us-or-you're-a-terrorist pretzel logic, the shrill rhetoric played so effectively by the White House over the past few years, no longer inspires dance. The nation seems to be yearning for a new sound, something a little less derivative and with a better beat.

At least the song didn't work for the House Republicans in their bald-faced attempt to distort Rep. John Murtha's call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Because the GOPers couldn't really pin the Vietnam War hero and defense hardliner as a leftist loon (well, Scott McClellan tried, but it was just too laughable to stick), they went to Plan B, the straw man approach.

It goes like this:

A says it wants C.
B says C is really D.
B bashes A for saying D.

It seemed crafty, at first blush: Claim Murtha is calling for immediate troop withdrawal (as soon as is "practicable" was Murtha's actual caveat) and force the Democrats to vote on it. Well, gosh 'n golly, no wonder the make-believe resolution authored by Repubs only garnered 3 votes of support. No one credible in this policy debate supports immediate troop withdrawal -- Murtha, least of all -- and so the vote ended up an exercise in would-be political gamesmanship.

New Donkey writes:

"Listening to House Republicans scream about staying the course, fighting the terrorists on their turf, bringing democracy to the Middle East, etc., etc., you'd never know their Senate counterparts had voted overwhelmingly to repudiate the administration's strategy in Iraq. For his part, Murtha, put in the impossible position of leading the opposition to what Republicans were describing as his resolution, pretty much limited himself to reading letters from troops and their families supporting his earlier statement. There was no real debate.

"It's not surprising, given Murtha's credentials, that Republicans gave most of their time to Vietnam vets, but what was surprising was how often they expressed the opinion that America 'cut and run' in Vietnam, and how angry they still seem to be that we didn't stay there until, well, eternity."

Maybe the Vietnam comparisons were appropriate for other reasons. The so-called debate itself seemed to be a quagmire.

As The Washington Post reports:

"At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"'He asked me to send Congress a message -- stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message -- that cowards cut and run, Marines never do,' Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran.

"Democrats booed and shouted her down -- causing the House to come to a standstill.

"Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. 'You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!' yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass."

Yes, they certainly are. The resulting 3-403 vote defeating the absurd resolution simply illustrated the depths that a political party will sink to once it is pissing blood and shitting the bed.

America is waking up, and the same old propaganda isn't cutting it.

Regardless of what one thinks of the Iraq War (and whether we must remain until, well, eternity), surely we can all agree that elected leaders should and must behave with responsibility, honesty and integrity.

Instead, the House Republicans acted like buffoons.

Sad buffoons. And the saddest thing of all: Only a year ago their bogus resolution would've been perceived by political observers as genius.


At 6:22 AM, Blogger Scribe said...

Last night's farce in the House reminded me of a pro-wrestling event: it was entertaining to watch while being patheticall absurd. I just hope that there is some factual reporting of this bamboozlement by the House GOP and their attempts to distort this issue for the sole purpose of hurting the Dems. This was not a substantive debate, it was a political stunt. And it was sadly — and maddeningly — pathetic.

Throw the bums out! Throw the bums out! (everybody chant now)... THROW THE BASTARDS OUT!

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

The funniest things about Chase's post is that "Powerline" has a new post up that's almost a perfect mirror image of Chase's including much of the same descriptive language -- "pantwetting" etc. and many of the same countercharges about honesty and integrity, blah, blah, blah directed at the left.

In other words, Chase is accusing Republicans of being incontinent. And Powerline is accusing Democrats of having bladder control problems.

Both are also accusing the other side of being unmitigated scumbags. While we're taking about deceptive argumentative techniques (such as the infamous "strawman") how about taking a look at good ole fashioned ad hominem attacks.

Guess what? I don't buy any of it.

Congress, on both sides of the aisle, is notorious for sanctimonious displays of Shakespearean political theater. One practically expects members to start trilling their "r's" and breaking out into "thous" and "thees" in iambic pentameter.

It all makes my head hurt.

I think the truth -- as always -- must lie somewhere in between.

Meanwhile, has anyone noticed that Zarqawi sent one of his top lieutenants to carry out the attacks in Jordan and blow himself up? What quality would one subscribe to a movement that must turn to its higher lieutenants to carry out its attacks? Desperation, dissolution? The Jordanian attacks have now backfired so badly that Zarqawi has tried a pathetic PR counteroffensive to try to stop the swing of public opinion in the Arabic world (a new poll shows 2/3 of Jordanians now have a negative view of Al-Qaeda)....

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Damn you, Red Dirt! When you're the moderate one and I'm the strident ideologue, then the world must be coming off its axis (the one of evil, of course).

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...


On Sunday, Zarqawi's ENTIRE clan took out ads in Jordan's three main newspapers, denounced him and praised King Abdullah.

On Friday, 57 members of the tribe held a rally to denounced the terrorist.

From the Associated Press:

"If my son was a terrorist, I wouldn't hesitate to kill him," family member Mousa al-Khalayleh said during Friday's rally, claiming he spoke on behalf of the tribe. "This is the slogan raised by the tribe as of this moment."

In other words, the clan is out to give Zarqawi a taste of his own medicine. We've never seen anything approaching this from bin Laden's family.

My guess: the one-armed beheader's days are severely numbered.

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, I'm late, but:

a) I think Chase is wrong asserting that the whole country is waking up. If anything, their left-knee is jerking instead of their right. What we need is open, thoughtful debate on Iraq. Yes, how we got there, but even more on where we stand now and where we're going. I had hoped that this crazy floor display would begin the conversation, but it has not. Bush is still stuck behind a door in China.

b)Do you suppose Zarqaqi's clan tipped U.S. forces off to his location this week in the near-miss attack? I'm not sure I buy the clan propoganda. Of course they're going to say they despise both him and his actions, but wouldn't you if you faced a country waving flaming torches and heading toward your house? My advice: Watch daily the news of "Muslim Brotherhood". This is the true base of the jihadist movement and its tentacles are more far-reaching than most imagine. Many of the moderates -- who work here now as doctors, engineers, scientists -- were schooled at the hands of the Brotherhood. It has always been a strong monster flying below the radar. But watch now as it emerges again in Egypt. My friends, I'm afraid we are in WWIII, but no one of any import has labeled it that. My questions: Whose side will China take?


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