Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"You Don't Know What It's Like" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 "You Don't Know What It's Like"
"The most devastating attack on Mitt Romney at Tuesday’s Democratic Convention came from Michelle Obama, who did not mention Romney’s name and said not a single cross thing about him. She devastated him by implication. If Romney was the son of privilege, she and her husband were anything but. What she said directly is that Barack Obama understands people who are struggling. What she didn’t have to say is Mitt Romney doesn’t. … [T]he specific stories -- about her father working through the pain of multiple sclerosis, about the debts she and her husband accumulated from college -- served a powerful campaign purpose. … And it was almost entirely done though personal stories. … Oh yes, and she also said that for husband, “success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Did any other presidential candidate come to mind as perhaps having a contrasting approach? Michelle Obama was much too polite to say. She didn’t have to."
-- Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., September 5, 2012, commenting on First Lady Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention the day before.

Comment: Dionne is making the argument that, since the GOP presidential candidate (former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)) is the "son of privilege", he can't represent poor people. Would Dionne make the same argument about another "son of privilege" -- say, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) -- who was considered to be a champion of liberal causes that aid the needy?

"Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn't get it. A few months ago he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. "Start a business," he said. But how? "Borrow money if you have to from your parents," he told them. Gee, why didn't I think of that? Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams. I don't think Gov. Romney meant any harm. I think he's a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it."
-- Mayor Julian Castro (D-San Antonio), September 4, 2012addressing the Democratic National Convention.

Comment: If Castro is implying that you can't come up with policies that are good for the poor if you haven't been poor yourself, then this is a faulty appeal to authority. And, does suggesting to people that they try borrowing money from their parents somehow make Romney "out of touch"?

"The president hasn't disappointed you because he wanted to. The president has disappointed America because he hasn't led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government. I learned the real lessons about how America works from experience."
-- GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), August 30, 2012, addressing the GOP National Convention.

Comment: This is poor reasoning, of the "appeal to authority" sort. It's not like someone who has worked in the private sector necessarily has a better idea of how to create jobs than someone who hasn't. It's not like a carpenter who builds houses is an expert on the economics of housing, nor is an expert on the economics of housing necessarily also someone who knows carpentry. Likewise, there's no necessary link between working in the private sector and having the right policies for the private sector. Romney should focus on the content of Obama's policies and the evidence for or against those policies, not on the background of the person advocating those policies.

"But Barack Obama thinks the government is at the center of the economic universe. He thinks that if you started a business, “You didn’t build that.” Well, how would he know? President Obama’s never run a company. He hasn’t even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand. So it’s time for a President with real experience in the real economy. Mitt Romney will be that President. Barack Obama and his party may be satisfied with attacking the American Dream. But Republicans won’t be satisfied until we’ve rebuilt the American Dream."
-- Chair of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus, August 28, 2012, addressing the GOP National Convention.

Comment: First, this is a distortion of Obama's "you didn't build that" remark. Obama was saying that business-owners didn't build "this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive". On the matter of Obama's business experience, it is a faulty appeal to authority to argue that, if you didn't run a business, you're not fit to offer up policies that will be good for business. Whether Obama's policies are good for business-owners is determined by the content of those policies, not by the background of the person espousing them. Lastly, to say that Obama and Democrats are satisfied with attacking the American Dream is name-calling. It's a derisive caricature on par with saying that Romney and Republicans are satisfied with declaring war on the poor. I'm sure Priebus doesn't like being demonized by Democrats, he shouldn't do the same to them.

"In both the private sector and as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney always asked: how can I help small businesses grow, innovate, and compete? It's the right question. And it's the question that this Administration never thinks to ask. But why should we be surprised? President Obama has never even run a lemonade stand, and it shows."
-- Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), August 28, 2012, addressing the GOP National Convention.

"Here's another thing about Obama. Look at how he talks. He creates jobs. He has policies. He's gonna do this. He's gonna do that. He's gonna give you this, make sure those people don't have that, gonna make sure those people get punished, those people gonna pay the price. You're gonna do okay, he's a command-and-control central planner, and here's a guy who hasn't done anything of the sort that he claims to be an expert in. He's done nothing. He's not worked in the private sector but for one job. In his own book he described it as being surrounded by the enemy."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, August 3, 2012.

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