Thursday, March 23, 2006

AP Analysis: Bush Loves Using "Straw Men" To Knock "Nonexistent" Opponents

The Associated Press on Saturday provided an astute analysis of the way President Bush rhetorically argues.

The AP's conclusion should be no surprise to JABBS readers. Bush creates fictional "straw men" -- creating the impression that a minority or fringe opinion reflects the views of all of his critics -- that can be easily knocked down.

Some examples:

-- "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day."

-- "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

-- "There are some really decent people who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

"The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents," according to the March 18 analysis. "In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position. ... 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," Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, told the AP.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views the rhetorical device 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 told the AP. "What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff."

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."


Anonymous budkin said...

Wow someone in the AP criticizing Bush?
This is good stuff.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous melissinha said...

SOME insist on supporting a failed President who feels he can pick and chose which laws he is going to follow.

SOME feel that the environment, the poor, the middle class, the economy, port security can balanced against the needs of corporations despite the laws that exist to protect these very things.

SOME feel that Christians should support a President who truly does not follow the example of Christ.

SOME support a reckless war of aggression in spite of worldwide apprehension.

SOME think its appropriate to create straw men to distract from one's own political failings.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous tandot said...

Some say Bush is a smart and competent leader

4:00 PM  
Anonymous kentuck said...

He did it with Helen Thomas's question...

When she asked him why he started the war with Iraq, he went off on a tangent about 'no president "wants" war' and proceeded to create a response that was totally unrelated to her question.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael McClure said...

Man, I can't wait for Hillary Clinton to become president. Then this worthless, Bush-bashing blogg will have nothing to write about. Here's to short-sightedness....

4:48 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Michael, are you against freedom of speech? Are you so blind to the world around you that you don't realize that 60%-plus of the country is upset with the way the Bush Administration is acting?

If a Democrat becomes president in 2008, Michael, I'm sure this blog will be able to continue. It will just change from pointing out the idiocies and hypocracies of the Bush Administration, to writing about the idiocies and hypocracies of those Republicans desiring to tear down their new president.

One final point, Michael: I see you aren't commenting about the post from David. I assume you realize that it's true, but rather than admit that, resort to the brain-dead practice of name-calling as a form of debate. Congratulations. You have shown off your narrow-mindedness and inability to articulate a reasonable defense of your beloved president.

5:28 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

President Bush OUTRIGHT LIED in his responses to Helen Thomas, regarding his excuses for going to war. It was complete revisionist history.
These lies fired up many blogs yesterday. Media Matters for America provided the most complete proof:
The worst part of it is the press sits on its hands. Bush lies and rewrites history about the most critical decision a president can make -- going to war. Especially after the result of this particular war, the main stream media doesn't care.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

I don't even have the energy to keep arguing with you guys. I've always believed that going into Iraq was the right thing to do, and I can't keep responding to these ridiculous accusations day in and day out.

Believe what you want to believe. History will prove this president right. Even now, as Iraqi documents are being translated and put out there for everyone to examine, it seems pretty clear that Democrats once again are on the wrong side of the issue.

Oh, and I read that dopey, trite "mediamatters" piece, and predictably, it's full of all the same old cliched liberal talking points that we've been hearing for years. They've gotten very, very old.

As for Helen Thomas, I'm sure it was only out of respect for her age or old time's sake that the President even took a "question" (read: editorial) from her. He really shouldn't bother, since she hasn't been a reporter for quite a while now, and only writes a partisan, anti-Bush opinion column.

7:39 PM  

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