Friday, September 15, 2006
Bush pummels Powell by using strawman
To briefly recap, Colin Powell has written a letter to the Senate in disagreement with the Presidents proposal to allow the CIA to torture certain terrorism suspects. The President was asked about this letter today and promptly went to the logical fallacy known as beating the strawman.
Let us see how this works shall we?
QUESTION: Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says, "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?Now this is a straightforward proposition. Frankly the position taken by Secretary Powell is understated. The world is not "beginning to doubt the moral basis" of our conduct. The world has already reached the conclusion that we are overbearing, inhumane, and generally wrong headed in this regard. So Powell is softpedaling this conclusion, but the President literally tries to say that Mr. Powell has called America the same as the terrorists!
Here is the Presidents reply to the question:
BUSH: If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic.Hah! The President actually says his opponents are using flawed logic in the same breath in which he himself uses flawed logic. The use of the word "if" as a qualifier does not justify the President then making up stuff in order to look logical. The President continued his answer thusly:
It's just -- I simply can't accept that.Let us be clear on this. The only person who is raising the comparison here is President Bush himself. He does so to make it seem like those who do not agree with him are the ones making the comparison. This strawman logic is comparable to someone contesting a speeding ticket in court by testifying that it is perfectly clear that they were not responsible for the hit and run down the road, so the ticket ought to be dismissed.
It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.
Unfortunately there is no judge or prosecutor riding herd on the President during these events to point out the folly of this tactic. I'm certain that there is a significant percentage of people (mainly Fox News viewers) who will see this and conclude that Colin Powell is in the process of conversion to Islam and is on the side of terrorism.
Just one further note on this controversy. Is it not telling that those who are coming out against legalizing the President to authorize torture are old school military members. But the administration is filled to overflowing with people who have never served in the military. So now we are to believe that those who have served with honor are wrong and those who dodged the draft and did not serve are right? And somehow the American people are supposed to weigh both sides of the argument and conclude that the side that wishes to abide by the Geneva Convention does not want to protect us? Quite frankly, I believe Rove has miscalculated this one...
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