In news that falls squarely in the ‘no shit’ category, the AP has discovered that President Bush routinely employs straw person arguments to advance his agenda. According to the article, Bush has used this keen analytical technique on issues from education to the fundamental rights of humans.
Wayne Fielfs, of Washington University, explains the impact of Bush’s technique:
“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.”
Two main points come to mind:
1) It might have been useful had the media done its job in the first place, pointing out these patently false claims at the time, rather than letting Bush repeat his unfair mischaracterizations of the left. And yet, how often have news reports included these straw person arguments with no analysis of their veracity? The article correctly blames Bush, but doesn’t the media have to share the blame for providing a platform from which the President lies with impunity?
2) It’s ironic that the same rhetorical technique cannot be used against Bush, given that the positions his administration has taken on the war, civil liberties, Social Security are so absurd that they seem like straw person arguments themselves.