"[F]olks, here's the thing that is a hard, cold reality to me. I've been doing this 25 years. I think back to previous years, in fact, eras of this program. And we did our feminist updates, and what were the feminist updates? We chronicled and laughed at what was being done in universities. We laughed at some of the radical, cockeyed ideas that radical feminists and feminazis were doing. … While all this is being built, and while it's happening, we're pointing out the intellectual holes in the data. We're pointing out the faults in the so-called logic of the argument. In the meantime it was taking hold with a whole bunch of young people starting with Ted Turner's Captain Planet cartoon series on Saturday morning, to who knows what else was happening. … It's really been fascinating in one regard. It's disappointing in another, scary in another. But they bought and believe as fervently as anything you believe the stuff that we were laughing at, deservedly so. … But now these people all come out, these young tech bloggers, even some in the sports media, doesn't matter where you go, this young, hip, pop culture demographic, not only do they believe all the stuff we were laughing at, they have a moral superiority about their countenance. What they believe is morally superior to say what I believe, what they believe and what they live and how they live is morally superior. So they kind of look down their noses at people. They do not and will not consider opposing arguments because the people who make them have been discredited with character assassination and so forth. … Let's put it this way. When you've got a majority of people this country who can be made to believe that Mitt Romney hates dogs with a commercial of a dog in a cage on the roof of a station wagon with ostensibly the Romney family inside on the family vacation, then I would suggest we've got a problem. Take whatever other insult or mischaracterization or character assault on conservatives that you can believe and there is a moral superiority to the people who believe this stuff. It's not that they believe it, it is that there is an arrogant condescension about them. They're close-minded. There's no other possible way to explain things that are happening other than what they believe."-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, November 30, 2012.
Comment: This is a caricature of some sort. Perhaps it's the "only my opponent" caricature. Is it really the case that liberals and progressives -- but not conservatives -- believe that their ideas are morally superior? And only liberals and progressives are condescending, arrogant, insulting and close-minded about it? And conservatives don't resort to character assassination?
"And one of the benefits of traveling and getting out of the White House is it gives you a chance to have a conversation with the American people about what kind of country do we want to be –- and what kind of country do we want to leave to our kids. I believe America only thrives when we have a strong and growing middle class. And I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That's what I believe. … Now, on this last point, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk in Washington and in the media about the deadlines that we’re facing on jobs and taxes and investments. This is not some run-of-the-mill debate. This isn’t about which political party can come out on top in negotiations. We’ve got important decisions to make that are going to have a real impact on businesses and families all across the country. … Let’s keep our economy on the right track. Let’s stand up for the American belief that each of us have our own dreams and aspirations, but we’re also in this together, and we can work together in a responsible way; that we’re one people, and we’re one nation. That’s what this country is about."-- President Barack Obama, November 30, 2012.
Comment: Much of this is platitudes, things that everyone believes, rather than beliefs that separate Obama from his opponents. Also, Obama is indulging in "unify the country" rhetoric without specifying in detail how or around what we should unify.
"And understand this was a central question in the election -- maybe the central question in the election. You remember. We talked about this a lot. It wasn't like this should come as a surprise to anybody. We had debates about it. There were a lot of TV commercials about it. And at the end of the day, a clear majority of Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, independents -- they agreed with a balanced approach to deficit reduction and making sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up. Folks agreed to that."-- President Barack Obama, November 30, 2012.
Comment: Obama appears to be claiming a mandate to enact certain policies due to the election. However, did everyone (or a majority) who voted for Obama and Democrats really endorse those policies? What about the people who voted for Republicans to control the House? Did they give House Republicans a mandate to block Obama? Or were both sides given a mandate to compromise? And, if so, compromise in what way, specifically?
"And a lot is riding on this debate. This is too important to our economy, it’s too important for our families to not get it done. And it’s not acceptable to me, and I don’t think it’s acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they don’t want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up. All right? That doesn’t make sense."-- President Barack Obama, November 30, 2012.
Comment: Obama is indulging in "hostage-taking" rhetoric. Would it be acceptable to say that he and Democrats are "holding middle-class tax cuts hostage" because he and Democrats do want tax rates on upper-income earners to go up?
"But you know who doesn't want entitlement reform? Voters. Democratic voters, independent voters, and, yes, Republican voters. The Washington Post / ABC News poll asked voters about raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 proposal that has been floated by Republicans in Congress. 67% of people oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age, including 71% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 68% of Republicans. 68% of Republican voters oppose a Medicare reform proposal being floated by congressional Republicans."-- TV pundit Lawrence O'Donnell, November 29, 2012.
Comment: First, this is a hasty generalization. Just because a majority of voters oppose raising the age of Medicare eligibility doesn't mean they oppose other Medicare reforms. Second, O'Donnell's use of opinion polls seems to be making an appeal to popularity. Also, by pointing out that Republicans (who O'Donnell frequently opposes), agree with him, O'Donnell seems to be making an "even my opponents agree" argument.
"Folks, there is an all-out assault -- forget the word "rich." There's an all-out assault on successful people. There is an all-out assault on prosperity and the future is that government will determine prosperity and will assign it, and they'll also punish it."-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, November 29, 2012.
Comment: This is violent rhetoric, in that Limbaugh is likening the behavior of Democrats to assault. Limbaugh is also demonizing Democrats, saying that they want to punish success.
"Notice both TIME Magazine and The Atlantic are calling the 401(k) tax deduction now a subsidy. It's a government subsidy. That's important because that means it's the government's money. You didn't earn it, the government allowed you to have it, and calling it a "subsidy" is a dog whistle term for people. "Why are we subsidizing the rich?" is the shout from middle America and central California. "Why are we subsidizing the rich, Mabel?" So a tax deduction is now a subsidy."-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, November 29, 2012.
Comment: This is "dog whistle" or "code words" rhetoric.
"There’s been a lot of talk here in Washington about the deadlines we’re facing on taxes and deficits -- these deadlines are going to be coming up very soon, in the coming weeks. But today is important because I want to make sure everybody understands this debate is not just about numbers. It's a set of major decisions that are going to affect millions of families all across this country in very significant ways."-- President Barack Obama, November 28, 2012.
Comment: This is a platitude. Who doesn't understand that "this is about people, not just numbers on a page"?
(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples. Click here for previous edition.)