Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Not My Decision" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Not My Decision"
GREGORY: Senator Schumer, should the president make that nomination?
SCHUMER: Well, that's his choice. I think once he makes it, his record will be studied carefully. But until that point, I think we're not going to know what's going to happen.
GREGORY: Can you support him?
SCHUMER: I'd have to study his record. I'm not going to comment until the president makes a nomination.
GREGORY: All right. We're going to leave it there.
-- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), December 23, 2012, regarding the potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) by President Barack Obama to the position of Secretary of Defense.

Comment: Initially, Schumer seems to make a "not my decision" evasion. That is, he refuses to answer Gregory's question on the basis that it's someone else's (in this case, Obama's) authority. This would be an evasion, as the mere fact that somebody else (rather than yourself) is authorized to make a decision doesn't mean you can't express an opinion on what that decision should be. When pressed, though, Schumer says he needs to study Hagel's record, which is a far more reasonable reason for refusing to offer an opinion on whether Hagel should be nominated.

OBAMA: There's a broader lesson to be learned here. You know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That it's important for you to make sure that the statements you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them.
KROFT: Do you think it was irresponsible?
OBAMA: I'll let the American people judge that.
-- President Barack Obama, September 12, 2012, during interview with reporter Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes". Obama's remarks concerned GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) criticism of a statement released by the U.S. embassy in Egypt, which Romney mistakenly described as occurring after (rather than before) an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

Comment: This is an evasion. Obama has said Romney spoke carelessly and without the facts in his command, so he's effectively saying that Romney was irresponsible even if he hasn't used the word "irresponsible". Obama is using the "not my decision" evasion to avoid saying something he's basically said anyway. How would he be infringing on the opinion of "the American people" if he issued his own opinion on the matter? The American people can still make a judgment about it even if he offers his own, right? Plus, Obama is engaging in a caricature, making it sound as if Romney -- but not Obama himself -- hasn't learned that it's important to have your statements backed up by facts (and, is Obama saying he only learned this after he became president?).

Sen. Barack Obama, responding to a question about whether Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) should be praised for supporting the "surge" strategy in Iraq -- a strategy that met with success, but which Obama opposed -- said, "I will leave it to the voters to make that decision."
-- July 22, 2008 [Washington Post: After Visit, Obama Defends Iraq Plan, CNN Transcript: Senator Barack Obama Speaks in Amman, Jordan].

Comment: There's nothing wrong with allowing voters to decide whether they think McCain should get credit for supporting the surge. But that doesn't render Obama incapable of expressing his own opinion on the matter, does it? He's praised plenty of people in the past based on what policies they've supported, so there's no good reason for him to duck this question in the name of "leaving it up to the voters". And Obama doesn't simply "leave it to the voters" to decide whether he himself and others deserve credit for opposing the invasion of Iraq: he praises himself and says he should get credit for having good judgment. At any rate, Obama stating his opinion on this matter -- McCain's support of the "surge" -- won't prevent the voters from getting a chance to state their own.

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