Sunday, August 23, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: August 23, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley apologized “like a disgusting, little, weak, pathetic baby” for his remark that “all lives matter,” Donald Trump said in an excerpt of a new interview aired Friday on Fox News.

In an interview with Jeanine Pirro for her program “Justice” set to air Saturday night, Trump said that the former Maryland governor did not need to say he was sorry.

“And then he apologized like a little baby, like a disgusting, little, weak, pathetic baby. And that’s the problem with our country,” Trump said, according to a clip aired on “Fox and Friends.”

O’Malley, in fact was “politically incorrect” with his apology, Trump remarked.

“How can you apologize when you say black lives matter — which is true — white lives matter, which is true — all lives [matter] — which is true. And then they get angry because you said white and all…we don’t want you to mention that. What’s he need to apologize for?” Trump asked.
-- Presidential candidate Donald Trump, August 21, 2015, as related by a story in Politico by Nick Gass.

Comment: Trump can criticize O'Malley's behavior without resorting to the language of disgust.

HARWOOOD: So do people misunderstand you're actually not for ending birthright citizenship?

WALKER: I'm not taking a position on it one way or the other. I'm saying that until you secure the border and enforce the laws, any discussion about anything else is really looking past the very things we have to do.
-- Repubilcan presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), from an interview released August 21, 2015, with CNBC’s John Harwood.

Comment: This seems like an evasion. Why can't Walker take a position on whether birthright citizenship should be continued or stopped? Other candidates have taken a position on the issue, either saying, for instance, that ending birthright citizenship would end an incentive for illegal immigration and thus help secure the border, or saying that birthright citizenship should be kept in place regardless of other changes to our immigration policy. It's not clear why Walker can't do the same. Is he saying the issue is a distraction, or involves too many hypotheticals?

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, under fire over the ongoing emails controversy, is pointing a finger at House Republican Benghazi investigators, accusing the panel of having classified documents on an unsecured system just like Clinton did.

On a phone call Friday afternoon, campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said the House Select Committee on Benghazi had on an unsecured computer system at least one Clinton email that State did not consider classified — but which the intelligence community now considers classified.

“[Benghazi Chairman] Trey Gowdy treated emails, in this case, in the same way Hillary Clinton did, considering them unclassified and … storing them on unclassified computer systems,” Fallon said. “So in light of this I don’t really see what leg Congressman Gowdy has to stand on in his criticisms of Secretary Clinton on this point.”
-- From an August 21, 2015, story in Politico by Rachael Bade.

Comment: Clinton's campaign, through Fallon, is accusing Gowdy of hypocrisy. This is essentially a "Tu quoque" – or, "you too" – argument in this case. But it is ad hominem reasoning: just because Gowdy may be doing the same thing as Clinton with emails doesn't mean that what Clinton is doing is acceptable.

"Jerrold Nadler is a Marxist, he is a complete puke. Party before country."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, August 21, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio show. Levin was criticizing Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) for supporting the nuclear deal with Iran.

Comment: First, Levin is deriding Nadler as disgusting. Second, while Nadler is a liberal, what is the evidence that he is a Marxist? This sounds like an exaggeration to the point of demonizing. Lastly, in saying that Nadler puts party before country, Levin is demonizing Nadler by questioning his patriotism.

"So they do this poll. And in the poll, I score really high marks on almost anything. Other than they thought I wasn't a nice person. They said who's the nicest, and I was like pretty low on that part. And I'm a nice person. But who cares. A woman came up to me, she said "I'm not sure that you're nice enough to be president." And I said, "You know what, this is not going to be an election based on a nice person. It's going to be based on a competent person. We're tired of the nice people.""
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, August 21, 2015.

Comment: It's not clear precisely what Trump means by being "nice", but this could be either "get tough and hit back" rhetoric, or an assertion that civility is bogus.

For those reflexive Trump supporters who believe that he must understand economics because he’s made a lot of money, I ask if you would support George Soros’s economic policy proposals for the same reason.
-- Pundit Ross Kaminsky, August 18, 2015. Kaminsky was referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Soros is a billionaire whose views on economics are often opposed to Trump's.

Comment: Kaminsky is pointing out that the argument for Trump's expertise is a flawed appeal to authority. In a sense, this is also "comparing" rhetoric: the argument that supports Trump's expertise equally supports Soros' (often opposed) expertise.

While the recognition of these problems is welcome — even for those of us who do not follow Mr. Trump further down his anti-immigration path — the rest of Trump’s “plan” is a bitter stew served up by a man pandering to Angry White People with ideas both fanciful and harmful.
-- Pundit Ross Kaminsky, August 18, 2015. Kaminsky was referring to the immigration proposal of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Kaminsky is demonizing, saying Trump's policies are bigoted and are intended to appeal to people who are bigoted.

Pathetic turd FrankLuntz begged @realDonaldTrump for corporate polling work - trashes Trump only after Trump declines
-- Pundit Roger Stone, August 18, 2015. Stone's tweet referred to Republican pollster Frank Luntz.

Comment: "Turd" is Stone's way of saying Luntz is disgusting.

.@HillaryClinton Wrong. Being more-anti energy than Obama is extreme. We should embrace energy revolution to lower prices & create US jobs.
-- Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), August 18, 2015. Bush's tweet was referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic, a policy that President Barack Obama had supported.

Comment: Just because Clinton opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic doesn't mean she is opposed to energy, that's a straw man. Even allowing for the brevity required on Twitter, "anti-energy" is demonizing. Bush is also using "extremist" rhetoric.

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