Monday, December 21, 2015

Civility Watchdog Digest: December 20, 2015

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"Look, I can see why people would support that idea on the surface. But the simple fact is how are we going to garner the international support to take out ISIS if the Kurds who are Muslims would be offended by this? The Jordanians will be offended by this. The Turks, the entire Arab world. Apart from the fact that you have the largest Muslim populations are even in the Middle East. They are India and Pakistan and Indonesia. We have to lead as a nation. The United States is not going to be a follower. We have to lead. And do this, it would be an unmitigated disaster. He knows that. This is dog whistle talk. This is to try to get people who are fearful about where we are to be latched on to him. But I think tonight was a good example of why he may not be the proper guy to be commander-in-chief."
-- Republican presidential contender former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), December 15, 2015, regarding a proposal by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country.

Comment: Bush is accusing Trump of using "code words" and of fear-mongering.

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, who was right in that little debate that we just heard between Senator Rubio and Senator Paul?

CARSON: I think you have to ask them about that. I don't want to get in between them. Let them fight.
-- Republican presidential contender Ben Carson, December 15, 2015, being questioned by Wolf Blitzer of CNN during a GOP presidential debate. The question concerned a disagreement between Republican presidential contenders Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) regarding immigration reform and the government collection of phone metadata.

Comment: This is an evasion. There's no good reason Carson can't express his opinion on these disagreements. If the question had been, "what should our policy be on immigration reform and the collection of phone metadata?" there wouldn't be any basis for ducking the question. The fact that those topics were being discussed by Paul and Rubio doesn't preclude Carson from expressing his views on which (if either) of them is supporting the better policy.

BASH: Senator Cruz, you have not been willing to attack Mr. Trump in public. … But you did question his judgment in having control of American's nuclear arsenal during a private meeting with supporters. Why are you willing to say things about him in private and not in public?

CRUZ: Dana, what I said in private is exactly what I'll say here, which is that the judgment that every voter is making of every one of us up here is who has the experience, who has the vision, who has the judgment to be commander in chief. That is the most important decision for the voters to make. … One of the things we've seen here is how easy it is for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to get distracted from dealing with radical Islamic terrorism. They won't even call it by its name. We need a president who stands up, number one, and says, we will defeat ISIS. And number two, says the greatest national security threat facing America is a nuclear Iran.

BASH: Senator, senator, I just –

CRUZ: And we need to be focused on defeating –

BASH: Senator, a lot of people have seen –

CRUZ: – defeating radical Islamic terrorists.

BASH: – a lot of people have seen these comments you made in private. I just want to clarify what you're saying right now is you do believe Mr. Trump has the judgment to be commander in chief?

CRUZ: What I'm saying, Dana, is that is a judgment for every voter to make. What I can tell you is all nine of the people here would make an infinitely better commander in chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), December 15, 2015, being questioned by Dana Bash of CNN during a GOP presidential debate. The question concerned statements by Cruz regarding whether voters would be comfortable with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump having his "finger on the button".

Comment: Cruz is dodging the question using the "not my decision" evasion. Yes, voters are going to have to decide for themselves who they're comfortable with when it comes to commanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and on every other matter of military, economic, and social policy as well. How does that permit Cruz to be silent on whether other candidates would perform well on any of those matters? Certainly, Cruz has voiced his opinion on the merits or weaknesses of other GOP candidates on policies and issues that, ultimately, voters must choose a candidate to suit them. So why can't Cruz do the same on this particular issue? The statements Cruz made about Trump (that Bash alludes to) clearly were critical of Trump: Cruz said it would be a "challenging question" for Trump to face when voters ask themselves "Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button?" In other words, Cruz has determined that Trump is not the best choice to have control of the nuclear arsenal, he clearly expressed that opinion to voters, but now he's saying it's somehow not his job to evaluate Trump on the matter, it's "for the voters to decide".

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you oppose letting in Syrian refugees at this time into the United States. The U.S. has already accepted 2,000 Syrian refugees, including 13 living here in Las Vegas right now. Would you send them back? What would you do with these people?

PAUL: You know, I think we need to set the record straight on this, because I think Marco misspoke about the bill. On the Gang of Eight bill, there was no provisions really for extra scrutiny or safety for refugees.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, you didn't answer the question about the 2,000 Syrian refugees who are already here in the United States. Will you send them back or let them stay?

PAUL: What my bill would do would be only for refugees going forward. So I haven't taken a position on sending anyone home.
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), December 15, 2015, being questioned by Wolf Blitzer of CNN during a GOP presidential debate. Paul initially responded to remarks by Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Comment: Paul initially doesn't answer the question about the Syrian refugees already present in the U.S., though he later states that he's not going to take a position on them (but without giving any reason why he won't take a position on sending them back to Syria or letting them stay here).

HEWITT: Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command, the control and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It's an executive order. It's a commander-in-chief decision. What's your priority among our nuclear triad?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you're going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important. But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would have said get out of Syria; get out -- if we didn't have the power of weaponry today. The power is so massive that we can't just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn't care. It was hand-to-hand combat. The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he's saying. The biggest problem we have is nuclear -- nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That's in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now.

HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.

TRUMP: I think -- I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, December 15, 2015, being questioned by Hugh Hewitt of CNN during a GOP presidential debate.

Comment: Trump never answers the question about which of the three components of the U.S. nuclear triad – land-based nuclear weapons, air-delivered nuclear weapons, and submarine-based nuclear weapons – should get priority in being upgraded.

"This group needs to be confronted with serious proposals. And this is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe. He spoke the other night to the American people to reassure us. I wish he hadn't spoken at all. He made things worse. Because what he basically said was we are going to keep doing what we're doing now, and what we are doing now is not working."
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), December 15, 2015.

Comment: This is "failed policies" rhetoric.

"Citizens, it's time to take our country back. Bombastic insults won't take it back. Political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little, won't take it back. All of our problems can be solved. All of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation. … Citizens, it is time to take our country back from the political class, from the media, from the liberal elite. It can be done, it must be done, join me and we will get it done."
-- Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina, December 15, 2015.

Comment: This is "take back the country" rhetoric.

"America has been betrayed. We've been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years. Think about just what's happened today. The second largest school district in America in Los Angeles closed based on a threat. Think about the effect that, that's going to have on those children when they go back to school tomorrow wondering filled with anxiety to whether they're really going to be safe. Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound. Think about the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children. What is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton done to this country? That the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people. I will tell you this, I'm a former federal prosecutor, I've fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe."
-- Republican presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), December 15, 2015.

Comment: It's one thing to criticize Obama and Clinton for policy failures, but to say we've been betrayed amounts to questioning their patriotism.

"Just last weekend, just last week, a friend asked one of my daughters, "Do you like politics?" And my daughter said, "No, I don't. And the reason I don't like it is because there's too much fighting, too much yelling. It's so loud, I don't like it." You know, I turned to my friend and I said, "You know, she's really on to something." And when we think about our country and the big issues that we face in this country; creating jobs, making sure people can keep their jobs, the need for rising wages, whether our children when they graduate from college can find a job, protecting the homeland, destroying ISIS, rebuilding defense. These are all the things that we need to focus on but we'll never get there if we're divided. We'll never get there if Republicans and Democrats just fight with one another. Frankly, we are Republicans and they're Democrats but before all of that, we're Americans. And I believe we need to unify in so many ways to rebuild our country, to strengthen our country, to rebuild our defense, and for America to secure it's place it world; for us, for our children, and for the next generation."
-- Republican presidential contender Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), December 15, 2015.

Comment: This is "unify the country" rhetoric.

Obama is the most anti-science, anti-factual president in modern memory.
-- Pundit Victor Davis Hanson, December 13, 2015, referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Hanson is accusing Obama of not caring about truth. Hanson lists several instances where Obama's positions are at odds with the facts, but is that a basis to conclude that Obama rejects facts altogether?

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