Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"War!" Examples: 2014

"The narrative about it's open season on young black men and police are responsible is preposterous. … I'll tell you if there is a narrative here, if there is a pattern, it's what's happening on the streets in regard to police. … If there is a pattern here, it's the war on police. I don't see a war on young black men."
-- Pundit Charles Krauthammer, reported December 29, 2014.

In the fall of 2014 Christ Church in Oxford, England, cancelled a debate about abortion. The pro-choice and pro-life arguments were to be presented by men. This caused furious feministic Oxford students to set up a Facebook page with demands for the debate to be called off on the grounds that the protesters were deeply offended. Only women had a legitimate right to discuss the issue, the implication being that only Nazis have a right to debate Nazism, and only Communists are entitled to talk about Communism. Christ Church caved in.
-- Pundit Flemming Rose, December 23, 2014, in an article entitled, "The Worldwide War Against Free Speech".

First the Pakistani Taliban bombed or burned over 1,000 schools. Then they shot Malala Yousafzai, the teenage advocate for girls’ rights. But on Tuesday, the Taliban took their war on education to a ruthless new low with an assault on a crowded school in Peshawar that killed 145 people — 132 of them uniformed schoolchildren — in the deadliest single attack in the group’s history.
-- The New York Times, December 16, 2014, "Taliban Besiege Pakistan School, Leaving 145 Dead".

Comment: This looks like an appropriate, non-metaphorical use of "war" rhetoric.

Lena Dunham's Assault on Humanity
-- The title of an article by pundit Heather Wilhelm, December 11, 2014. It's not clear if Wilhelm or an editor wrote the title.

In Canada, a week is not complete without another denunciation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s so-called war on science. But what about the progressives’ war on science? That war actually kills people. As Hank Campbell, co-author of the book Science Left Behind, writes, “If some crank school district tries to deny evolution, no one is going to die and it just makes them look backward and stupid. Denying food, medicine and energy science, like progressives do, is costing lives.” In Canada, the progressive war on science is aimed squarely at the energy industry. A large number of Canadians believe that anything connected to fossil fuels is inherently suspect.
-- Pundit Margaret Wente, November 29, 2014.

Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and demonizing people as being anti-science.

The war over science is heating up on Capitol Hill. … Opponents in the scientific world and their political allies believe that, at its heart, the GOP assault isn’t about bringing greater accountability to the EPA or NSF, but rather a larger lack of trust in science that could soon spur efforts to micromanage NIH, the Department of Defense and other agencies that, all told, spend tens of billions on scientific research every year.
-- Politico reporter Maggie Severns, November 27, 2014.

Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and demonizing people as being anti-science.

When Republicans won a commanding midterm victory in 2010, President Obama decided, for multiple reasons, to accept the outcome as a blow to his own legitimacy. He conciliated Republican leaders. … In substantive terms, this decision was disastrous. … as foolhardy as Obama’s 2011 strategy seems in hindsight, he and the Democrats recovered and won a satisfying victory in 2012. None of that logic holds today. The past six years have given Obama no reason to believe Republicans are good faith bargaining partners. But even if they had, his political salvation, and the best interest of his supporters in Congress isn’t in cutting conservative-leaning deals with the fully Republican Congress. It’s in the kind of partisan governing and campaigning he embraced after Republicans nearly sabotaged the economy in July 2011.
-- Pundit Brian Beutler, November 5, 2014, from an article entitled, "Obama Just Lost the Battle for the Senate. It's Time He Waged War for Real."

Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and "get tough and hit back" rhetoric.

A warning to the women of America: If Republicans win control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections this fall, it will be a powerful victory for the war on women, with consequences that will be severe and long-term. A large majority of women know this. The question is, will they will vote in November? … The polls look dark for Democrats. The war on women is winning. But could the GOP peak too soon? Could predictions of a Republican wave scare the daylights out of Democrats and motivate them to vote? Yes. It could happen with black, Hispanic, young and especially women voters.
-- Pundit Brent Budowsky, September 10, 2014.

President Obama's main political priority is social justice. That's where his energies lie. That's what Obamacare is all about. The president engages in class warfare but not real warfare.
-- Pundit Bill O'Reilly, posted September 5, 2014.

ANDERSON COOPER: So what do you say to those largely white Americans who see what is happening here and maybe don't understand what is happening here or disagree with what is happening here? You know what many people said to me just today, look, this isn't just about Michael Brown, this is about generations of issues that have gone on in this community and continued to go on in this community. Is that how you see it?
SPIKE LEE: I see it. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell [Ford], who was shot a couple days ago, today in St. Louis a couple blocks away another African-American man who was shot and killed today. They said he had a knife. I just think there is a war on the black male and it's tearing the country apart in my opinion.
-- Film director Spike Lee, during an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, posted August 19, 2014.

What on earth? In the middle of a war this country’s president publicly says is justified owing to the relentlessness of the rocket fire against civilian populations, U.S. officials proudly tell the Wall Street Journal, they are holding up weapons transfers to Israel …
-- Pundit John Podhoretz, August 14, 2014, in an article entitled, "Obama Administration Makes War on Israel". It's not clear if Podhoretz or an editor wrote the title.

This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. … So the Democrats, they have to demagogue on this and try and turn it into a racial issue, which is an emotional issue, rather than a thoughtful issue.
-- Rep. Mo Brooks, (R-LA), posted August 4, 2014.

Comment: This is an example of "war" rhetoric, "divisive" rhetoric, and "demagogue" rhetoric.

"The problem with the Ryan Budget is that it is so vulgar, so obscene, so out of touch with what the American people want and need that it is literally hard to believe. It is hard to believe. The richest people in this country are doing phenomenally well. The Ryan Budget substantially lowers taxes for millionaires and billionaires. Working families and low income people are struggling. The Ryan Budget makes savage cuts in nutrition programs, in education, and in health care. It does exactly the opposite of what the American people need and what the American people want, and as you indicated, this is a continuation of the war against the middle class and working families that the Republican party has been mounting and work for for a number of years now."
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), posted April 10, 2014.

Comment: This is an example of "Americans want" rhetoric and "war" rhetoric.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"They'll Say Anything" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "They'll Say Anything"
"Candidates always have disagreements, arguing over the meaning of events or evidence. But Mr. Obama has taken ordinary political differences beyond anything we've seen. Every day, it seems, he attempts to disqualify his opponent through deliberate and undeniable falsehoods. ... Voters expect politicians to stretch the truth. But when the offender is as persistent with mistruths, half-truths and no-truths as Mr. Obama is, voters expect the other candidate to blow the whistle. ... Mr. Romney must call out the president. That is not so easy: Mr. Romney can't call Mr. Obama a liar; that's too harsh a word that would backfire. Mr. Romney must instead set the record straight in a presidential tone -- firm, respectful, but not deferential."
-- Republican strategist Karl Rove, September 26, 2012.

Comment: Rove is correct that Obama has distorted and demonized his opponents. But to suggest that Obama is doing this at an unprecedented level -- how would you measure this? At any rate, Rove seems to be engaging in the "only my opponent" caricature, as well as the "they'll say anything" caricature. Also, Rove effectively says that Obama is a liar, right? So why would it backfire to use the word "liar" in describing Obama if it's accurate?

"We know what we are up against. We know how desperate our opponents are to cling to power. But we are ready, and I hope you are too, because I know that we can do this. Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of our country. Let’s put these divisive years behind us. Let’s give this effort everything we have. Let’s get this done, and elect Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."
-- GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), September 14, 2012, addressing the Values Voter Summit.

Comment: It sounds like Ryan is implying that Democrats "will do anything to win". He is also using "unify the country" rhetoric without specifying what Obama has done to be divisive and what would be involved in uniting. For instance, if I don't accept the policies supported by Romney and Ryan, am I guilty of not "coming together for the sake of our country"?

"People now see that he'll say and do anything to be president."
-- Commentator Sean Hannity, August 16, 2012, referring to President Barack Obama during a radio interview with commentator Pat Buchanan.

"Doesn’t America deserve better than a president who will say or do anything to stay in power?"
-- "America Deserves Better", and ad released by former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) presidential campaign, August 10, 2012. The ad criticizes President Barack Obama.

Comment: This ad criticizes President Barack Obama for an ad put out by an organization supporting Obama, an ad which accuses Romney of being responsible for a woman's cancer-related death. Agreeing that Romney is not responsible for the woman's death, is this proof that Obama will literally say or do anything in order to win? Will a false claim by Romney's campaign similarly justify the accusation that "Romney will say or do anything to win"?

"Romney’s getting desperate, so he’s playing the race card. He’s campaigning on the bogus charge that Obama wants to gut Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law. ... Clinton pushed this issue back then for the same reason Romney is pushing it now: to appeal to white working class voters who can be swayed by not-so-subtle racist innuendo. Only Romney is also doing so to reinforce. ... No, facts don’t matter to [GOP presidential candidate Mitt] Romney. He’ll do anything, including exploit racism, to get votes."
-- Columnist Matthew Rothschild, August 8, 2012.

Comment: Rothschild wrote this as part of an article in which he criticized an ad from Romney's campaign that -- Rothschild believed -- distorted President Barack Obama's position on welfare reform. If Obama (or Rothschild, for that matter) are ever found to have distorted their opponent's record, does that prove that they, too, will do anything to get votes? Rothschild also accuses Romney of racism (presumably because some people associate welfare with minorities).

Obama and company are willing to "say anything to keep power".
-- Commentator Sean Hannity, July 24, 2012, referring to President Barack Obama during his radio show.

"This guy will say anything."
-- Commentator Glenn Beck, July 23, 2012, referring to President Barack Obama during the first hour of his radio show.

"They'll Say Anything" Examples: 2013

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2013 "They'll Say Anything"
There seemed to be nothing that she wouldn’t say — and that her supporters wouldn’t applaud her for saying — so long as it was mixed with nationalistic catchphrases like “Constitution,” “founders” and “traditional,” and attacks on the president. … Bachmann has set a new standard, found down by the ankles, for the level to which an elected official should aspire.
-- Pundit Charles M. Blow, May 29, 2013.

"They'll Say Anything" Examples: 2014

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2014 "They'll Say Anything"
Progressives have perfected lying straight to the face of the American people.
-- Radio pundit Pat Gray, March 28, 2014, 3rd hour of The Glenn Beck Program. Gray made the comment (or a paraphrase thereof) while discussing flip-flops by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) regarding whether certain stories about The Affordable Care Act (AKA "Obamacare") are false.

I think I have figured out why President Obama hasn’t fired Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She will say anything. Sebelius will deny the obvious, defend the indefensible and even rewrite the law without hesitation, all while keeping a straight face. She has been willing to hide, bend and break the Obamacare law. Even moving the goalposts of what Obamacare’s success would look like and changing the initial purpose of Obamacare – insuring the uninsured – doesn’t cause her to break a sweat or show even the slightest bit of embarrassment.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, March 13, 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"Struck a Nerve" Examples: 2014

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2014 "Struck a Nerve"
RUSH: Here's Ray in Livermore, California, as we head back to the phones. Great to have you, sir. Welcome.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah dittos to you and your family and the staff there, EIB, really appreciate what you're doing. I know you're pressed for time, but if there's time to make a second comment on your book following my original call-in comment, I'd love to. In your opening remarks, you know, talking about Jeb Bush, and overall, the way the media reacts to you, an old bomber pilot had an axiom that fits perfect. He said, "If you're taking flak, it means you're directly over the target. Open the bomb bay doors."
RUSH: You know, I got a note from -- and actually a Republican -- you know this person, but I can't mention him. Republican strategist, campaign organizer, said, "Hey, don't buy into this. They're scared to death of you. That's their problem." I can't remember. It's just a one-line thing but it's basically the same point that you're making. I mean, if they're ripping you to shreds like this, you must be over the target, must be hitting too close to home. I, of course, am aware of this, yes.
CALLER: Yeah, and especially if you're making both sides upset, it's clear that you're on target, Rush, and we want to encourage you to keep up the good work.
RUSH: Thank you. Here it is. She says, "They don't hate you. They are terrified of you. Keep it up." You say keep the bomb bay doors open. Right on, dude.
-- The Rush Limbaugh Show, December 17, 2014.

"I guess I would tell you when you break glass ceilings you're going to get scraped by a minor chard or two from the glass. But what I really focus on is the hard work that we have in these last two years and I wake up every morning, as I know the president does, focusing on people who are really just trying to get ahead, who are counting on us to work for them."
-- Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, reported November 12, 2014.

"Struck a Nerve" Examples: 2013

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2013 "Struck a Nerve"
CALLER: They don't hate you 'cause you're on the right; they hate you because you're correct.
RUSH: Effective, yeah. That's sadly the case. Every time you see me ripped to shreds in the media, folks, understand I've just been effective, and that's why I'm being ripped. Or anybody else on the right. Same theory applies.
-- The Rush Limbaugh Show, December 12, 2013.

OBAMA: We don't think government can do everything, don't think that top down solutions are the right way to go. We believe in the free market. We believe in a light touch when it comes to regulations. We don't want to tax all businesses out of business. But we do think that there's a role to play for government.
RUSH: "We don't want to tax all businesses out of business?" Why you say that? I mean, out of the blue, there must be some fear that that is a desire, for him to have to stand up and deny it.
-- The Rush Limbaugh Show, June 10, 2013. Limbaugh was commenting on remarks by President Barack Obama.

"Struck a Nerve" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Struck a Nerve"
"I know a lot of people think, "Come on, Rush you lose one election, you go over the deep end with this kind of thing. We haven't gotten there yet." I'm afraid among the people who vote, we have. I think this is something we've got to admit. Why do you think the left gets so ticked off at me when I describe their party as Santa Claus and Obama as Santa Claus? They get ticked off because it's right."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, December 12, 2012.

Paul Ryan must have hit a home run last night -- otherwise liberals wouldn’t be going bonkers right now.
-- Columnist Shikha Dalmia, August 30, 2012, responding to criticism of remarks made by GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during his speech at the Republican National Convention.

Comment: Does the same reasoning work in the other direction? If a Democrat says something that meets with a huge wave of criticism, then therefore what that Democrat said must have been a truth-filled "home run"?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Big Lie" Theory, "They Don't Care About Truth" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 and earlier "Big Lie" Theory, "They Don't Care About Truth"
"[I am addressing] an enormous myth that circulates in our media culture; namely, the idea that conservatives are uniquely anti-science and progressives are uniquely pro-science. … It is certainly true that some conservatives embrace anti-scientific beliefs, most notably on evolution and climate change. But some progressives also adhere to a set of dangerous anti-scientific beliefs. … the destructive anti-vaccine movement has a long association with the progressive left. … Scientists see water fluoridation, which particularly benefits the poor, as a major public health triumph. But not progressive activists in Portland, Oregon, who fought to prevent the fluoridation of their city’s water supply. Mainstream progressive environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists also oppose genetic modification, despite its tremendous life-saving potential in areas such as preventing vitamin A deficiency … Despite the fact that thousands of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to the pollution produced by burning fossil fuels each year, progressives oppose energy policies that could reduce our dependency on coal and oil. Progressives historically have been anti-nuclear power, and today, they are opposed to natural gas, a much cleaner fossil fuel. Instead, they embrace wind and solar, neither of which are currently capable of meeting the world’s growing energy demand."
-- Columnist Alex B. Berezow, December 28, 2012.

Comment: Isn't it a hasty generalization to argue that, if somebody rejects a scientific theory, they therefore reject science as a whole? Does disputing one scientific theory support declaring that someone is stupid or that they don't care about truth?

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates? The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
-- Pundit Thomas Sowell, December 18, 2012.

Comment: Sowell is using the term "zealots" to mean "extremists", and is suggesting they don't care about facts.

"A March Gallup poll found that Republicans were much less likely than Democrats or independents to say that they worried about global warming. Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did. This as the National Climatic Data Center reported that “the January-November period was the warmest first 11 months of any year on record for the contiguous United States, and for the entire year, 2012 will most likely surpass the current record (1998, 54.3°F) as the warmest year for the nation.” Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back."
-- Columnist Charles Blow, December 7, 2012.

Comment: Blow is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric. "Willful ignorance" amounts to accusing people of not caring about facts. Is this a fair appraisal of people who disagree with the claims of global warming and climate change?

"According to a June Gallup report, most Republicans (58 percent) believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Most Democrats and independents did not agree. This anti-intellectualism is antediluvian. No wonder a 2009 Pew Research Center report found that only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative. Furthermore, a 2005 study found that just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly."
-- Columnist Charles Blow, December 7, 2012.

Comment: Blow is appealing to polling data to argue that Republicans are "anti-intellectual", which amounts to caricaturing them as "stupid" or perhaps as not caring about facts. Blow also considers a causal connection between political affiliation and scientific occupation, though isn't this a case of false causation?

BIDEN: "They’re -- they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon."
RADDATZ: "You are acting a little bit like they don’t want one."
BIDEN: "Oh, I didn’t say -- no, I’m not saying that. But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.They are more -- and if we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us, and that matters. That matters."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Comment: Again, this is name-calling. Biden is suggesting that Ryan's concerns about Iran are based on the rejection of facts, but they're not. Rather, there's a legitimate disagreement here about what constitutes the "point of no return" in Iran's nuclear weapons program. At the risk of oversimplifying, Ryan is saying that once Iran has uranium enriched to 90%, their weapons program is impossible to turn back. Biden is saying that the point of no return is at a later stage, once the 90% enriched uranium has been crafted into an actual weapon. (Ryan, I assume, would object that weaponizing enriched uranium is technically much easier than producing enriched uranium.) This is a complicated technical argument, so it's a derisive caricature for Biden to portray the debate as one side (his own) believing that "facts matter" and the other side (Ryan's) saying that they don't.

As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, "Tell him: You can do it." Obama grinned. "That's the only advice I need," he said. "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer." "Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked. "You know, kids have good instincts," Obama offered. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"
-- President Barack Obama, October 11, 2012, during interview with Douglas Brinkley for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Comment: If Obama believes Romney has engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, then he should just say so and defend that claim. There's no need for him to refer to Romney with profanity, implying that Romney cares nothing about the truth. Plus, given that Obama has also engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, would Obama apply the same profanity to himself? Probably not. Finally, do kids really have good instincts? Isn't much of the point of kids' education teaching them things that they don't know instinctively, things that they need to know if they're going to thrive and prosper (or at least avoid drinking cleaning fluids?)?

ROMNEY: "I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that is not the case, all right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans."
-- GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), October 3, 2012, during the first presidential debate between Romney and President Barack Obama.

Comment: Romney sounds like he's accusing Obama's campaign of engaging in the "big lie" tactic. (He also sounds like he's accusing his sons of using it, too!)

BROWN: I'm Sherrod Brown and I approved this message.
NARRATOR: Josh Mandel, he's become the candidate of the big lie.
TEXT: "the candidate of the big lie" The Columbus Dispatch column 8/19/12
-- Portion of ad released September 7, 2012, by the reelection campaign of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), criticizing his opponent, Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R). The ad refers to an August 19, 2012, column by Joe Hallett, senior editor at The Columbus Dispatch.

Comment: Brown is reiterating the "big lie" accusation made by Hallet.

"[GOP vice presidential candidate Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-WI] and I have something in common. He, like I, exaggerated his marathon PR as well, recently boasting to conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt of a "two hour and 50-something" clocking over 26.2 miles. … Then, ahem, the good folks at Runner's World did a little digging and, eh, ahem, uh -- well, Ryan's time was, ahem, eh, uh -- 4:01:25.  … There is no possible explanation for a four-hour marathoner claming [sic] he's a three-hour marathoner. None. Zero. Nilch. … I can tell you -- with 100% certainty -- that when Paul Ryan says (more or less), "Oops, simple mistake," he is full of it. ... This is a flat-out, straight-up, no-holds-barred lie. ... But when it comes to Wisconsin's favorite son, a lie -- in this case about a marathon time --isn't such an isolated occurrence. In case you missed the Republican convention, Ryan's speech was an unambiguous ode to mistruth. Among other dandies, he ripped the president for ignoring the Simpson-Bowles commission recommendations -- even though Ryan voted against its final report; claimed the American people were "cut out" of stimulus spending when, actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers. On and on and on and on."
-- Author Jeff Pearlman, September 5, 2012.

"But I am telling you, the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep on running ads claiming it. You want to know why? Their campaign pollster said, “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Now, finally I can say: That is true. I -- I -- I couldn’t have said it better myself."
-- Former President Bill Clinton, September 5, 2012, addressing the Democratic National Convention.

Comment: First, this is the "big lie" caricature, claiming that your opponent "doesn't care about the truth". Second, the pollster Clinton refers to is Neil Newhouse, who actually said, "These fact-checkers come to those ads with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs. We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Newhouse may have been guilty of ad hominem reasoning in this comment, but he wasn't saying that facts don't matter. As such, Clinton is misrepresenting what Newhouse said. If the distortion of Obama's position on welfare reform is proof that Republicans don't care at all about truth, do distortions coming from Democrats prove that they don't care at all about truth?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama really felt that it was personally important to him to make sure that his personal view, that Jerusalem is and always will remain the capital of Israel was reflected in the platform. And this was directly the result of his personal view. And, you know, something amending the platform during the convention, because it was the president's priority, demonstrates yet again that he always has had Israel's back and always will....
ANDERSON COOPER: I've just got to go to the panel with this. I mean, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it wasn't a change of language. There was no discord that we saw. And it was a 2/3 vote. … I mean, that's just -- that's an alternate universe. … Let me point out again, this is the same person who last week or two weeks ago attacking the Romney campaign, saying that it is the candidate who sets the platform, who designs and writes the platform. It wasn't true what she was saying two weeks ago, but now isn't it fair? If she claimed that about the Republican platform to claim that about the Democratic Party platform?...
VAN JONES: Right. I think that's right. Here's the thing -- I think there is a problem here. Obviously, there's some discord about something here, that people were "yay", "no", the confusion. It was handled badly beginning end, and now, we're going to pay a price for that I think as Democrats....
COOPER: I just think for me, a reality standpoint, you can defend it as the head of the DNC, but to say flat out there was no discord is just not true.
-- September 5, 2012, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in panel discussion with former Special Advisor to the White House Van Jones and other guests after interview with Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

Comment: The discussion concerns two things: First, a proposal to change that language of the Democratic Party platform by voice-vote on the floor of the convention to did not pass uncontested (and, though the change was made, it perhaps didn't receive the 2/3 vote required). Cooper is challenging Wasserman Schultz's assertion that there was no discord or controversy to the vote and the change to the platform. Second, Wasserman Schultz had earlier (while engaging in "broader truth" rhetoric) dismissed GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) attempts to distance himself from his party's platform. Cooper is challenging Wasserman Schultz regarding whether President Barack Obama can distance himself from the Democratic Party platform.

"They lied, Debbie "Blabbermouth" Schultz went out there and lied specifically twice, even after being caught, which she's been doing regularly on CNN. Wherever they get her to go, she lies. And no matter how much evidence is shown to her she just keeps lying because, get the message out. Just get the lie out. Joseph Goebbels, just keep lying, just tell the lie."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, September 5, 2012.

SHEPARD SMITH: [Israel's] ambassador to the United States today called out the chairwoman to the Democratic National Committtee and categorically denied that he ever said Republican policies were bad for Israel. … Earlier today Ambassador Oren issued a statement denying that he had ever called Republican policies harmful for Israel … Debbie Wasserman Schultz is with us. He says he didn't say that.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): And I didn't say he said that. And, unfortunately, that comment was reported by a conservative newspaper. It’s not surprising that they would deliberately misquote me. What I always say is that unfortunately the Republicans have made Israel a political football, which is dangerous for Israel. And Ambassador Oren has said that we can’t ever suggest that there is any daylight between the two parties on Israel because there isn’t. And that that’s harmful to Israel. That’s what I said, and that is accurate.
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), September 4, 2012, during interview with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith.

This was in reference to what Wasserman Schultz said earlier:
"We have a "Mitt's VS Facts" document, which addresses a lot of the typical baloney that is spewed by Republicans. And, let me just close by telling you this, and sharing this with you: We know -- and I have heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this -- that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel. They're undermining Israel's security by suggesting that the United States and Israel don't have anything other than a unique and close and special relationship."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), September 3, 2012.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz clearly did make the statement she was accused of making, a blatant contradiction. More, she attempts to dismiss the revelation by using ad hominem reasoning -- "reported by a conservative newspaper" -- which is irrelevant. The political affiliation of the newspaper doesn't determine whether or not what they said is true. And it looks like their report was true, given that their report included audio of her saying that Oren had told her Republicans were harming Israel.

"[Lehman] scorned the Republicans’ contention that the laws are designed to combat voter fraud. “It’s like Hitler said, if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big lie, and if you tell it often enough and say it in a loud enough voice, some people are going to believe you”."
-- Pat Lehman, dean of the Democratic Party delegation from Kansas to the Democratic National Convention, reported September 4, 2012.

JOHN BURTON: You said that they aren't telling the truth.
INTERVIEWER: They are not.
BURTON: They're not telling the truth. And if you're not telling the truth, you're lying. And I said Joseph Goebbels concept was "the big lie", if you tell it enough, people will think it's the truth.
INTERVIEWER: Do you agree with that?
NANCY PELOSI: That is -- especially if you have endless -- what I agree with is if you endless money you can try to sell any misrepresentation to the American people. And this is -- really, undermines our democracy. But again, in other words, you saw the factual misrepresentations in the Ryan speech. You saw what -- Romney as the man who would be president, get up there and say what he said about Medicare, he either doesn't know the facts -- that's the most benign thing I can say -- or he doesn't care the facts, but what he said was not true.
-- Interview with former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), September 3, 2012.

Comment: Burton is incorrect that "if you're not telling the truth, you're lying". Sometimes when people aren't telling the truth, it's because they're mistaken (as Pelosi points out). Burton is making the "big lie" accusation. Pelosi is asked whether she agrees with the accusation, but demurs, saying it's only one of two possible explanations for Romney's remarks.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of the way the Republicans have been framing this debate, and you point out the lies they say, they don't accept the facts as truth. What do you think of that?
JOHN BURTON: Well, they're willing to say that they lie and they don't care if people think they lie as long as you lie. Joseph Goebbels. The big lie, you keep repeating it -- first of all, you got Republicans who truly believe the Earth is flat, so I don't know exactly what, you know, what's gonna do, but -- I think, that when people figure out that these people say they do not care about the truth, and they will lie, and they don't care if they lie because it doesn't matter if they lie, we want them to believe our lie, that's very cynical, very dangerous. … That was Goebbels, the big lie. They said they don't care about facts. They're gonna lie. So, I mean, that's, you know, I mean that's not pejorative to them, they probably wear it as a compliment.
INTERVIEWER: Are the Democrats ever guilty of that, of embellishing or taking things out --
BURTON: Embellishing and lying are two different things -- you tell me anybody running for office -- except me, when I ran -- that didn't embellish. OK?
INTERVIEWER: That's true. Or taking something out of context, or --
BURTON: Well, yeah, but, I mean, what Paul Ryan said was a bald-faced lie, to all the American people, and he doesn't care that it was a lie, because it doesn't matter, because it sounds good. "Obama closed this plant." Jesus, what happened? He closed the plant. I mean, if you lie about something -- it just -- I don't know, if you have to ask that question, you're just in the wrong business.
-- Interview with chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton, September 3, 2012.

Comment: I assume Burton is referring to GOP pollster Neil Newhouse (and taking Newhouse's remarks out of context), as did President Bill Clinton days later in his address to the Democratic National Convention.

"The latest big lie the from Obama's Truth Team is Mitt Romney wants to raise taxes on Americans while Obama wants to cut taxes. That's the latest big lie. … They're trying to make this thing stick, folks, by calling Romney "Romney Hood." … And, of course, the Democrats don't care about the truth. They care about the illusion that they can carry forward."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, August 7, 2012.

Comment: So, when Republicans say false things about Democrats, does that prove that they "don't care about the truth" and endorse the "big lie" theory?

"Today, Team Romney abandoned the pretense of caring about honesty altogether.
Mitt Romney's aides explained with unusual political bluntness today why they are spending heavily -- and ignoring media criticism -- to air an add accusing President Barack Obama of "gutting" the work requirement for welfare, a marginal political issue since the mid-1990s that Romney pushed back to center stage. "Our most effective ad is our welfare ad," a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O'Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. "It's new information."
The claims are "new," of course, because the Romney campaign made them up. Sure, it's "new information," in the same way it would be "new information" if Obama said Mitt Romney sold heroin to children -- when one invents a lie, its "newness" is self-evident. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse added, "[W]e're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." … It's important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen -- he's deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power. If you don't find that frightening, you're not paying close enough attention. … Forget parties and ideologies, put aside agendas and values, and just consider what Team Romney is saying: they can lie with impunity and they don't give a damn who disapproves. So long as it leads to more power in Romney's hands, anything goes. Romney is, in effect, issuing something of a dare -- he will ignore facts, thumb his nose at reality, and taunt truths with a childish question: What are you going to do about it?"
-- Columnist Steve Benen, August 28, 2012.

Comment: Benen is referring to Romney's criticism of Obama for allegedly removing the work requirement from the welfare reform act passed in 1996, which Benen and others believe is blatantly untrue. When Democrats make criticisms that others believe are blatantly untrue -- such as that Romney's Medicare reform would take benefits away from current seniors -- is that proof that Democrats have chosen to ignore facts and don't care about honesty?

REPORTER: You said that the GOP's trying to turn back -- to the days of Jim Crow -- about the voter ID laws?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I didn't -- that's not what I said.
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), March 20, 2012.

This was in reference to what Wasserman Schultz said months earlier:
"If you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and saw that our voting process needed refinement -- and we did that in the America Votes Act, and made sure that we could iron out those kinks -- now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws, and literally -- and very transparently -- block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it's nothing short of that blatant."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), June 5, 2011, in an interview with Roland Martin.

"Extremists, Extremism, and Radicals" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Extremists, Extremism, and Radicals"
This is no time for a Grand Bargain, because the Republican Party, as now constituted, is just not an entity with which the president can make a serious deal. If we’re going to get a grip on our nation’s problems -- of which the budget deficit is a minor part -- the power of the G.O.P.’s extremists, and their willingness to hold the economy hostage if they don’t get their way, needs to be broken. And somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen in the next few days.
-- New York Times pundit Paul Krugman, December 21, 2012.

Comment: This is "extremists" and "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates? The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
-- Pundit Thomas Sowell, December 18, 2012.

Comment: Sowell is using the term "zealots" to mean "extremists", and is suggesting they don't care about facts.

"A March Gallup poll found that Republicans were much less likely than Democrats or independents to say that they worried about global warming. Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did. This as the National Climatic Data Center reported that “the January-November period was the warmest first 11 months of any year on record for the contiguous United States, and for the entire year, 2012 will most likely surpass the current record (1998, 54.3°F) as the warmest year for the nation.” Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back."
-- Columnist Charles Blow, December 7, 2012.

Comment: Blow is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric. "Willful ignorance" amounts to accusing people of not caring about facts. Is this a fair appraisal of people who disagree with the claims of global warming and climate change?

"I think Senator DeMint clearly sees that the Tea Party is not a growth industry. I mean, he had an election that just passed that did not see the ranks of Tea Party members expand. The Senate candidates that he expected to be very likely to join him in the Senate were rejected in red states by the voters who simply know that extremism is just not the way that we need to go forward in getting our economy turned around, in reducing our deficit and creating jobs."
-- Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, December 6, 2012.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric.

"Again and again, the first term revealed Obama’s idea of bipartisanship: Dissenters are unpatriotic and must surrender. Compromise is a one-way street for him. As polarizing and ineffective as that approach was, he was rewarded with four more years. A different man might see that as a mulligan -- a second chance to get it right. Not Obama. His behavior now is even more troubling. That he’s willing to risk sending the economy back into recession and killing even more jobs leads me to believe his second term will be far more radical than the first. A stranger to humility, he thinks re-election confers a blank check. His demand that spending cuts and entitlement reform be put off, while Republicans give him the tax hikes and the stimulus he wants, suggests he’s not serious about facing the mountain of debt."
-- Columnist Michael Goodwin, December 2, 2012.

Comment: Goodwin is complaining that President Barack Obama's idea of bipartisanship is wanting? Is that true? Has Obama called dissent unpatriotic and treated compromise as a one-way street? Goodwin is also accusing Obama of being divisive (by calling him "polarizing"), and indulging in "radical" rhetoric. In addition, he says Obama thinks he has a limitless mandate as a result of re-election, and that Obama is not "serious" about our debt problems. All this combines to create an unflattering caricature of Obama. Goodwin can criticize Obama's positions without resorting to this name-calling and demonizing.

"The President has said he wants a so-called balanced approach to solve this crisis. But what he proposed this week was a classic bait and switch on the American people -- a tax increase double the size of what he campaigned on, billions of dollars in new stimulus spending and an unlimited, unchecked authority to borrow from the Chinese. Maybe I missed it but I don’t recall him asking for any of that during the presidential campaign. These ideas are so radical that they have already been rejected on a bipartisan basis by Congress."
-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT), December 1, 2012, during the weekly GOP address.

Comment: Hatch is claiming that Obama has no mandate to enact certain policies, because they are not the policies Obama campaigned on. Also, he is indulging in "radicalism" rhetoric. Finally, he is engaging in "bipartisan" rhetoric, apparently arguing that ideas that have been rejected on a bipartisan basis are radical and wrong.

"[A] vocal minority on the hard-left continues to argue to the leaders of their party -- from the President on down -- that Democrats in Washington should do absolutely nothing about short-term or long-term spending problems. This is the Thelma and Louise crowd, the ones who dream about higher taxes and the bigger government it will pay for, regardless of the impact on jobs or the economy or America’s standing in the world. These are the ones who recklessly ignore the fact that we can’t keep running trillion dollar deficits every year and throw a tantrum if somebody suggests that maybe the taxpayers shouldn’t keep subsidizing every last program Washington ever dreamed up. Their reckless and ideological approach threatens our future. And anyone who’s serious about solving the problems we face should ignore it, starting with the President. … It’s time for the President to present a plan that rises above these reckless and radical voices on the hard-Left, that goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail, and that has a realistic chance of passing the Congress. The time for campaigning is over. It’s time for the President to lead."
-- Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), November 26, 2012, from the floor of the Senate.

Comment: First, who is saying this? McConnell doesn't name who holds the "Thelma and Louise" position he describes. The danger -- which brings us to the second point -- is that McConnell is creating a straw man, a caricature of his opponents. They really don't care at all about the impact on the U.S. economy? Third, McConnell is engaging in "ideological" rhetoric, as well as "radical" rhetoric, as well as "talking points" rhetoric.

ROMNEY: [T]he key that we're going to have to pursue is a -- is a pathway to -- to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own. We don't want another Iraq. We don't want another Afghanistan.
-- Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), October 22, 2012, during the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, FL, between Romney and President Barack Obama.

Comment: Romney is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric. What, in particular, does Romney believe that the Muslim world should reject?

OBAMA: So there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they’re not on economic policy. In some ways, he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy, and I think that’s a mistake. That’s not how we’re going to move our economy forward.
-- President Barack Obama, October 16, 2012, during the second presidential debate in Hempstead, NY, between Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

Comment: Obama is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric. Why not just say Romney is wrong and then explain why?

RYAN: "The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn’t second guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme."
-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden.

Comment: First, it's not clear that Biden sympathized with China's "one child" policy, though he certainly didn't take the opportunity to criticize it. That, arguably, is a failure to defy injustice. Second, this is "extremism" rhetoric. Rather than extreme, why can't Ryan just say Biden is wrong?

"Let me start tonight with this: Attack. A month now stands between here and election. Four weeks to sell the country on the difference between Obama and Romney on the big issues of our times. Time to attack. Time to remind voters who rode to the rescue -- who did ride to the rescue of the American auto industry, and who stood out there telling it to go bankrupt. Time to attack. Which candidate fought to get equal pay for equal work for women so that no girl in America will ever grow up thinking her time, her sweat is worth less than a boy's? Time to attack. Which candidate saw 40 million people uninsured dragging themselves to sit for hours in emergency rooms across the country -- he saw it, Obama did, and he refused to let it stay that way through yet another presidency. Mitt Romney saw the way things were and said he wants to keep things that way. If you don't have insurance, tough, go get a seat with the other victims and moochers. Well, this is where Romney's vulnerable, where Obama can come charging from his ground of strength. Now's the time. Romney -- be taken to task for his positions so far from the American mainstream."
-- Commentator and TV anchor Chris Matthews, October 9, 2012.

Comment: Romney and Republicans would no doubt take issue with the way Matthews describes -- perhaps, caricatures -- their positions. Matthews is telling Obama and Democrats to get tough and "attack" (and to do so with points that they've already made time and time again). Matthews also indulges in some "extremism" rhetoric by describing Romney's positions as "so far from the American mainstream".

LEHRER: "And so I want to ask, finally here -- and remember, we’ve got three minutes total time here. And the question is this: Many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now are in a state of paralysis as a result of partisan gridlock. If elected, in your case -- if reelected, in your case -- what would you do about that? Governor?"

OBAMA: "Well, first of all, I think Governor Romney is going to have a busy first day, because he's also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you're sitting down with them. But, look, my philosophy has been I will take ideas from everybody -- Democrat or Republican -- as long as they're advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class. … And so part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things. And I've got to tell you, Governor Romney, when it comes to his own party during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party."
-- President Barack Obama, October 3, 2012, during the first presidential debate between Obama and GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

Comment: Obama makes a good point that, by repealing Obamacare, Romney would be upsetting the supporters of that health care reform and making it difficult for him to unify the country. (Though, the same could be said to Obama: how does he intend to unify the country by keeping Obamacare in place, given that it is unpopular with many Americans?) Obama also indulges in "extremism" rhetoric. Neither candidate says that he will refrain from calling his opponents names and will chastise his own supporters and members of his own party if they resort to name-calling.

"[T]he problem is not Romney but the new Republican Party. Given the direction in which it has moved and the pressures from its most extreme -- yet most powerful -- elements, any nominee would face the same challenge: Can you be a serious candidate for the general election while not outraging the Republican base?"
-- Commentator Fareed Zakaria, September 26, 2012.

"Finally, when he tries to make big government sound reasonable and inclusive, President Obama likes to say, “We’re all in this together.” And here, too, he has another handy straw man. Anyone who questions the wisdom of his policies must be lacking in compassion. Who else would question him but those mean people who think that everybody has to go it alone and fend for themselves. “We’re all in this together” -- it has a nice ring. For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious. Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born. Giving up any further pretense of moderation on this issue, and in complete disregard of millions of pro-life Democrats, President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party."
-- GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), September 14, 2012, addressing the Values Voter Summit.

Comment: Again, it's true that Obama frequently caricatures Republicans as having no compassion or being unwilling to help others -- for instance, by calling them "Social Darwinists" -- but it's also a caricature to say that people who aren't pro-life when it comes to abortion are hypocrites when they say "we're all in this together". Abortion is a complicated moral dilemma involving moral standing and the extent of our duty to help others. The fact that someone supports the right to abortion doesn't mean they have no concern for others. A comparable distortion from the pro-choice side is to say that it's hypocritical for people who oppose abortion to also say they support women's rights. Ryan wouldn't accept that caricature, I'm sure, so he shouldn't be content to caricature others. This is also an example of "extremists" rhetoric.

"He's talked publicly since going into hiding, remaining defiant, saying that Islam is a cancer … And saying this was a deliberately provocative film to show, as he said, Mohammed is a fraud. And clearly the film showed him as a womanizer, a pedophile, a thug, and generally denigrated Islam. Now, there is, obviously, freedom of expression in this country. There is also 100-year law by the United States Supreme Court which says you can't cry fire in a crowded theater. So, now, one has to, really, try to figure out the extremists in this country and the extremists out there who are using this and whipping up hatred."
-- Anchor Christiane Amanpour, September 12, 2012. Amanpour was commenting on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, which some claimed was a reprisal for a film -- produced by a moviemaker in the U.S. -- that was deemed insulting to Muslims.

"The Democratic Party plank on abortion is the most extreme plank in the United States."
-- Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), September 2, 2012.

"A long history of social extremism makes Paul Ryan an emblem of the Republican tack to the far right."
-- Editorial from The New York Times, August 26, 2012.

"I can't speak to Governor Romney's motivations. What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he's talked about."
-- President Barack Obama, August 23, 2012, during interview with the Associated Press published August 25, 2012.

Comment: Supposing that it's true that presidential candidate Romney's positions are extreme (how would you measure that?), that doesn't resolve the issue of whether those positions are wrong.

"Look, they love to paint me as this Big Government, tax-and-spend liberal. The truth is that growth in the federal government is slower than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower. Taxes are lower than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower. The tax reforms I’m calling for would simply take us back to the tax rates under Bill Clinton for people above $250,000, which means taxes will still be lower under me than they were under either Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. We’re not looking for anything radical here. And frankly, the country doesn’t need radical changes. What it needs is some commonsense solutions that stay focused on helping middle-class families."
-- President Barack Obama, August 21, 2012, during interview with White House correspondent for TIME Michael Scherer.

Comment: Obama is contrasting "radical" ideas against "common-sense" ones. But he doesn't specify what counts as radical or common-sense, so how are we to evaluate his claim that the changes he's proposing are the latter and not the former?

"[GOP presidential candidate Mitt] Romney and [GOP vice presidential candidate Paul] Ryan have put ideology ahead of what's right. … The embrace of an ideologue like Paul Ryan may appeal to the Republican Party's Tea Party base, but it will completely alienate independent voters, especially in battleground states. … Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney has lacked a clear vision. Now he's embraced a radical ideologue with a dangerous one. This election is absolutely a choice between two visions for our country's future. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have solidified their roles as rubber stamps for the reckless and failed economic theories of the past."
-- Commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, August 12, 2012.

Comment: There's a lot going on here. First, the "ideology" accusation. Then the claim that Romney and Ryan put ideology "ahead of what's right", as if they know what's right and best, and instead do something else. Rather, Romney and Ryan have a different idea of what policies are good for the country, different from Brazile and other Democrats. Then there's the accusation that Ryan is a radical. Finally, there is the "failed policies" accusation.

"The Van Jones thing. When it happened, I can't tell you the number of people who asked, "How did a guy like that get by Obama?" How did he get by? Obama wanted him there! So old Joe here is right. This guy at the EPA who couldn't wait to "crucify" Big Oil? "Gosh, how did some extremist like that get past Obama?" He is Obama! Obama is that guy! This is hard for people to get their arms around."
-- Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, June 1, 2012.

"Extremists, Extremism, and Radicals" Examples: 2013

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2013 "Extremists, Extremism, and Radicals"
"I don't think there are any extremists in my party."
-- House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), reported December 10, 2013.

In the United States, we always do things in a grand way, so it’s a tribute to American exceptionalism that we have far outperformed China in the field of extremist ideologues. We don’t have some pathetic little foursome, but an unrivaled “Gang of 40.” That’s my name for the 40 hard-line Republican House members who have forced the shutdown of the federal government and are now flirting with a debt default that could spin the world into recession. In their purported effort to save America money, they’re costing us taxpayers billions of dollars. Obviously, there are differences — our Gang of 40 disdain Mao suits — but there is a similar sense in which an entire nation is held hostage by a small group of unrepresentative figures who don’t have much of a clue about economics or about where they’re taking the country. … The second is the way politicians seek leverage by brazenly threatening deliberate harm to the nation unless they get their way. The House Republican hard-liners lost their battle against Obamacare in the democratic process, just as President Obama lost his battle for an assault-weapons ban. But instead of accepting their loss as Obama did, members of the Gang of 40 took hostages. Unless Obamacare is defunded, they’ll cause billions of dollars in damage to the American economy.
-- New York Times pundit Nicholas Kristof, October 10, 2013.

Comment: This is "extremists" and "ideologues" and "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

We — and by we I mean Congress, and by Congress I mean the Republicans in Congress — have again demonstrated just how broken and paralyzed our government has become, how beholden to hostage-takers, how vulnerable to extremism.
-- New York Times pundit Charles Blow, January 3, 2013.

Comment: This is "extremists" and "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

"Exploiting Fear, Fear-Mongering, and Scare Tactics" Examples: 2013

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2013 "Exploiting Fear, Fear-Mongering, and Scare Tactics"
"What I don't appreciate is when I hear remarks out of the White House spokesman that ... if we're pursuing sanctions we're marching the country off to war. I think that's way over the top, I think that's fear-mongering".
-- Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), reported November 27, 2013.

"Exploiting Fear, Fear-Mongering, and Scare Tactics" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Exploiting Fear, Fear-Mongering, and Scare Tactics"
RYAN: "And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board, by the way, it’s 15 people, the president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training. And Social Security? If we don’t shore up Social Security, when we run out of the IOUs, when the program goes bankrupt, a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut kicks in on current seniors in the middle of their retirement. We’re going to stop that from happening. They haven’t put a credible solution on the table. He’ll tell you about vouchers. He’ll say all these things to try and scare people."
-- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden.

Comment: Ryan is accusing Obama and Biden of appealing to fear, which is unfair because it's only false appeals to fear that are unacceptable. Of course politicians are going to try to posit things that voters should be afraid of. In fact, that's exactly what Ryan does when he mentions the Medicare board that makes decisions about medical care for seniors and says that Social Security is in fiscal trouble: he's saying that there are things voters should fear, and that people should therefore vote for him and Romney in order to avoid those fearful things. Now, if Ryan believes he's positing genuine fears while Obama and Biden are positing spurious ones, then he should defend that claim. But he can't fault Biden for "trying to scare people" when all politicians -- including Ryan himself -- do so legitimately.

"I'm the newcomer to the campaign, so let me share a first impression. I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power. They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left. With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money— and he's pretty experienced at that. You see, some people can't be dragged down by the usual cheap tactics, because their ability, character, and plain decency are so obvious— and ladies and gentlemen, that is Mitt Romney."

-- GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), August 29, 2012, at the Republican Party National Convention.

Comment: Democrats are desperate to keep power? This is similar to the way that Howard Dean demonized Republicans on February 26, 2008. Ryan is also making the "fear-mongering" accusation as well as the "divisive" accusation. I think there's an implicit "only my opponent does it" caricature here, as well.

"They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren, and here's what they do. They prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the single cynical purpose of winning the next election. Here's their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power when we fall. ... We win when we make it about what needs to be done. We lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing."
-- Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), August 28, 2012, giving the keynote address at the GOP National Convention.

Comment: This is more name-calling and derisive caricature. It's also an accusation of fear-mongering. To say that it's the Democrats who engage in "scaring and dividing" and not Republicans is the "only my opponent does it" caricature. There's ample evidence that this is a game that both sides play. It's also another fear-mongering accusation, along with an accusation of "dividing".