Friday, January 23, 2015

"Even My Opponents Agree" Examples: 2011

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2011 "Even My Opponents Agree"
Regarding the refusal of Republicans to raise taxes, "I don't think that's a sustainable position. And the truth of the matter is, if you talk to Republicans who are not currently in office, like Alan Simpson who co-chaired my bipartisan commission, he doesn't think that's a sustainable position. Pete Domenici, Republican, co-chaired something with Alice Rivlin, the Democrat, says that's -- he doesn't think that's a sustainable position. You can't reduce the deficit to the levels that it needs to be reduced without having some revenue in the mix."
-- President Barack Obama, June 29, 2011.

Comment: Obama is committing the "even my enemy agrees" fallacy by arguing that his position on raising taxes is more acceptable given that his opponents (Simpson and Domenici) agree with him.

Regarding continued U.S. military involvement in Libya, "I think when you have the former Republican nominee for President, John McCain, and the former nominee for President on the Democratic side, John Kerry, coming together to support what we're doing in Libya, that should tell the American people that this is important. And I very much appreciate their efforts in that regard."
-- President Barack Obama, June 29, 2011.

Comment: Obama is committing the "even my enemy agrees" fallacy by arguing that his position on military intervention in Libya is more acceptable given that his opponent (McCain) agrees with him.

"There is a growing coalition of leaders across America who don't always see eye-to-eye, but who are coming together on this issue. ... One CEO had this to say about reform: 'American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society ... Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, science, higher education and innovation.' That's Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, and an immigrant himself. I don't know if you're familiar with his views, but let's just say he doesn't have an Obama bumper sticker on his car."
-- President Barack Obama, May 10, 2011, in El Paso, TX.

Comment: One problem here is that the quote from Murdoch that Obama uses only shows that Murdoch supports immigration. It doesn't show that Murdoch supports all the particular details of immigration reform that Obama does. But a bigger issue is the reasoning: Obama is arguing that his position on immigration reform must be acceptable, because even someone who typically disagrees with Obama -- Murdoch -- supports immigration reform. Even supposing that Murdoch does support all the details of immigration reform as Obama does, this line of reasoning is not valid. Just because somebody who disagrees with you on 100 other things agrees with you on one issue doesn't prove that your position on it is correct. It's entirely possible that you're both wrong on that one issue where you agree.

"Just over a year ago, I wrote a column praising Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap. ... When the inevitable backlash came, I defended Ryan against accusations that he was a fraud ... So I believe I have some credibility when I say that the budget Ryan released last week is not courageous or serious or significant. It's a joke, and a bad one."
-- Columnist Ezra Klein, April 11, 2011.

Comment: Klein is in a misguided effort, here, to keep people from dismissing his criticism of Ryan out of hand. Klein is a liberal, while Ryan is a conservative, so Klein believes that some people will read his criticism of Ryan and say, "Well, Klein's a liberal, a progressive, of course he's going to criticize Ryan, so we can ignore what he says." This would be ad hominem reasoning, but instead of just pointing that out, Klein wants to preempt the dismissal by arguing, "Hey, I'm not a knee-jerk liberal who just reflexively criticizes conservative ideas. In fact, I've praised Ryan in the past." But, two people making the same criticism of Ryan -- one having praised Ryan in the past, the other not -- are either both saying something true or both saying something false. For Klein to say, "My praise of Ryan makes my criticism of him believable", is just more bad reasoning. It's like the "even my enemy agrees" fallacy.

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