Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Special Interests" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "Special Interests"
I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests.
-- President Barack Obama, November 7, 2012, addressing his supporters while declaring victory in his race against Republican candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

Comment: This is typical rhetoric about civility, in the sense that Obama is lamenting incivility in the abstract without owning up specifically to his own failings with respect to civil debate. Politicians and pundits frequently speak about civility in a way that leaves people with the impression that they themselves aren't part of the problem, that it's someone else who has to clean up their act (the "only my opponents" caricature). That's one of the reasons people are so cynical about politics in general and the possibility for civil debate in particular. Also, Obama himself has frequently railed against "special interests", but here it sounds like he's dismissing the influence of special interests.

Regarding Republicans, "[w]hat else is a turnoff is their poisonous campaign. Suffocate the airwaves, suppress the vote, poison the debate, people throw up their hands and say, 'I just don't even know if I want to participate in this'. And when they walk away -- right-thinking people walk away -- the special interests achieve a victory. So we have to keep the campaign positive, about what our president could do".
-- House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), September 26, 2012.

Comment: A lot of people are turned off by the incivility in political debate, but this incivility is hardly coming only from Republicans. For Pelosi to suggest otherwise is the "only my opponent" caricature. Also, Pelosi is disparaging "special interests".

"Now, my opponent and his allies in Congress -- and the special interests that support them -- they've got a particular idea of how you grow an economy. ... if we eliminate all those regulations and we combine those with the tax cuts, then wealthy investors and companies will do very well, and the benefits then will spread to everybody else."
-- President Barack Obama, July 6, 2012.

Comment: Is Obama implying that a particular idea of how to grow the economy is suspect because of the "special interests" supporting that idea? If he is, he's engaging in ad hominem reasoning.

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