The Nature of Liberal Argumentation

Thanks to Politizoid for pointing out on June 1 the Meghan Daum editorial offering a laughable explanation of Obama’s inarticulate stammering. Rather than an articulate defense of the inarticulate, she provided an instructive example of the nature of liberal argumentation in this post-Alinsky world. Let’s break it down.

Instead of defending Obama on his merits, she offers a preposterous and flimsy alternate explanation: he’s too smart for his own mouth.  Recognize the ring of propaganda? Assert a position that is superficially absurd, but assert it anyway, and let that assertion deflect at least part of the blame.  If the other side argues, at least you’re arguing about the explanation, and not discussing the shortcoming. It moves the debate off topic. Underhanded, cheap and effective to a degree.

Quickly transition to step two, which is to accuse the other side of equal if not greater inadequacies.  This time, it’s William F. Buckley, who’s no longer here to defend himself.  He’s an inspirational and revered character for conservatives, so their first instinct will be to defend him, even though he doesn’t need defending because a) he’s passed on, and b) the issue is not about him, it’s about Obama.  But, she spends half the article reminiscing about Buckley, poking fun at him, baiting opponents and deflecting attention from Obama’s shortcomings.

The first tactic is just standard propagandist tactics. The truth is irrelevant; make something up. Plausibility is secondary.  The second tactic is from Rules for Radicals, this time used in a counterattack form.

· Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it

· Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

The article is hopeless for convincing any skeptical conservative, but for Democrats, no doubt they lapped it up. Daum told them what they wanted to hear, regardless of how absurd it was.  That’s another Alinsky tactic.

· A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

The real question is how effective is it with Independents, and I have to think that it is a net plus for Obama, even if it is small.  If nothing else, there is a writer in several major papers saying that Obama’s really smart, and his stammering is just like, maybe not as bad as, conservative greats from the past.  It is another voice in the chorus echoing, “Yeah, it must be OK, and he must be as great as they say.  Everyone seems to think so.”