Monday, September 24, 2012

Obama and Ryan Demonize Each Other Identically

President Barack Obama and GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have recently described each other -- falsely and derisively -- in pretty much the same way.

First, Ryan, September 21, 2012:
"All that we need now is leaders who have the political will to save and strengthen Social Security. But when it comes to protecting this program, President Obama has come up short. The President has no plan -- and no plan doesn’t mean leaving Social Security as it is; it means letting it grow weaker. Inaction today will mean sharp cuts tomorrow. Time and again, this President has ducked the tough issues. He’s put his own job security over your retirement security."
And, the next day, September 22, 2012, Obama:
"See, when they skipped town, Members of Congress left a whole bunch of proposals sitting on the table -- actions that would create jobs, boost our economy, and strengthen middle-class security. These ideas have been around for months. The American people want to see them passed. But apparently, some Members of Congress are more worried about their jobs and their paychecks this campaign season than they are about yours."
In both cases, the claim is that "my opponents care about themselves more than they care about you". Obama and Ryan are each trying to get us believe that their opponents don't have legitimate reasons for disagreeing with them. Their opponents aren't motivated by any moral considerations. Rather, they're only motivated by concern for their own re-election.

Is Obama's lack of action on Social Security reform really a result of not caring about seniors' retirement? Or is it that he's having trouble getting the support in Congress for the sort of reform that he thinks is best?

Likewise, is the lack of movement by Congress on the proposals Obama mentions really due to their not caring about whether people can find jobs? Or is it because they don't believe these proposals are good, or because they can't get the support they need for the proposals that they think are good? (Obama is also indulging in some "Americans want" rhetoric, here.)

Ryan and Obama, as is typical, are adopting the worst interpretation of their opponents actions, and it amounts to name-calling, demonizing. This is just the usual attempt to cast a political disagreement as good people vs bad people, when it's actually a disagreement between two groups about what the best course of action is.

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