Sunday, April 12, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: April 12, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"If you're over the target, you draw flak."
-- Sen. Rand Paul, April 10, 2015, on the 3rd hour of the Glenn Beck radio program. He was referring to criticism he had received for his political positions.

Comment: This is "struck a nerve" rhetoric.

"This is a man on a mission, not on a mission for America but against America".
-- Pundit Mark Levin, April 9, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio program. His remarks referred to President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Obama is acting against his own country.

HUGH HEWITT: Is he naïve, Mr. Vice President? Or does he have a far-reaching vision that only he entertains of a realigned Middle East that somehow it all works out in the end?

DICK CHENEY: I don’t know, Hugh. I vacillate between the various theories I’ve heard, but you know, if you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world and reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama’s doing. I think his actions are constituted in my mind those of the worst president we’ve ever had.
-- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted April 8, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing (Obama's polices are the policies of someone who wants to intentionally dismantle the country) and exaggeration (Obama is as bad as James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce).

"On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that's a topic for another day. Where there is injustice -- I was about to veer off. I'm pulling it back. Where there is injustice we defend the oppressed. Where there is disagreement, we treat each other with compassion and respect. Where there are differences, we find strength in our common humanity, knowing that we are all children of God."
-- President Barack Obama, April 7, 2015.

Comment: Obama doesn't say who or which Christians are guilty of making "less than loving" remarks. I think we can safely assume that he is referring to Republicans and conservatives who have resorted to demonizing and other incivilities. However, Obama doesn't cite himself as being guilty of the same misbehavior (and he is certainly guilty of it), so he is resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature.

"I believe Pope Francis got it right in his Easter Vigil homily when he said, “We cannot live Easter without entering into mystery. To enter into mystery means the ability to wonder, to contemplate, the ability to listen to the silence and hear the tiny whisper amid the great silence by which God speaks to us.” I think that's who we are as Christians, and quite frankly, I think that's who we are as Americans. We're constantly renewed as a people and as individuals by our ability to enter into the mystery. We live our faith when we instill in our children the ability to wonder, to contemplate, and to listen to that tiny whisper amid the great silence. We live our faith when we nurture the hope and possibilities that have always defined us as a country. We live Easter -- and to live Easter is to live with the constant notion that we can always do better. We can always do better."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, April 7, 2015.

Comment: Leaving aside the matter of whether this really illustrates who Christians are, does it tell us who is a real American (and, therefore, who isn't)?

BRET BAIER, SPECIAL REPORT: The president talked about what he said was anti-Israel comments that he's hurt by.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It has been personally difficult for me to hear sort of expressions that somehow we don't have -- this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.

BAIER: One more soundbite. Late this afternoon, the president was on NPR. He was asked by Israel's push to say in this deal to get Iran to say that Israel can exist.

OBAMA: The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms.And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.

BAIER: Seems different. I mean, he is hurt by the anti-Israel comments, but then says that that's not part of any possible deal.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, if he doesn't want people to say that he has been anti-Israel he should perhaps have less anti-Israel policies. That would solve the problem. The bigger challenge for the president he actually outlined the differences correctly. He doesn't think it's necessary to have a change in the behavior of the regime. Benjamin Netanyahu very clearly does. But as to the point of whether this benefits or whether this potentially threatens Israel, Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, just said in an interview with Syrian state TV, "Iran will become richer and wealthier and will become more influential." We're seeing it now.
-- Pundit Steve Hayes, posted April 6, 2015.

Comment: It's fair to argue about which policies are best for Israel, but it's demonizing to say that Obama's policies are anti-Israel. Isn't this roughly the same retort given to Republicans and conservatives who complain about being accused of racism: "Well, if you don't want people to say that you're racist, then have less racist policies"?

[I]n the November 2014 exit polls, only 22 percent of Americans said they thought life would be better for future generations, and in Gallup’s latest “Economic Confidence Index” poll, 50 percent of Americans say the economy is getting worse. Not to mention, only 29.3 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, while 61.3 percent of Americans believe we are on the wrong track. … That bleak outlook is consistent with an essay Gallup chief executive Jim Clifton wrote at the beginning of this year, where he noted that, “Until 2008, start-ups outpaced business failures by about 100,000 a year. But in the past six years, that number has suddenly turned upside down.” Despite quoting this stunning fact, Edsall doesn’t make the connection between this negative economic data and a certain election in November 2008. Oddly, Edsall’s piece doesn’t even mention President Obama, except to identify a quote from the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Obama’s negative impact on the economy should be a lesson for the next president. I don’t think there has been a president in my lifetime who has been more hostile to business than Obama. … Anyway, all is lost for the remaining 21 months under Obama, and no doubt more businesses are doomed as a result of this administration’s anti-business bias.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, April 6, 2015.

Comment: First, this to simply blame Obama for the bad economic confidence numbers seems like post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. The financial crisis also happened during the latter half of 2008, couldn't that be a cause for the lack of confidence? Second, Rogers is demonizing Obama by saying he is anti-business. Even if it's true that Obama doesn't have the best policies for business (or better policies than his opponents), does that mean he actively opposes business?

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