Sunday, December 28, 2014

"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".

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