Sunday, January 17, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: January 17, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"The foreign policy section was completely disconnected from reality. He actually spoke of Syria as some kind of a success --that we were working to put together this country, where Obama, arguably, was incredibly responsible for the collapse of the country, 250,000 deaths, and the refugee crisis, acting against the advice of all his advisers, so he's talking about a world that really doesn't exist."
-- Charles Krauthammer, January 12, 2016, referring to President Barack Obama's remarks during the State of the Union address that day.

Comment: Krauthammer is accusing Obama of being divorced from reality.

"The future we want -- all of us want -- opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living, a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids -- all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics. A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country -- different regions, different attitudes, different interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, fiercely, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security. But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America."
-- President Barack Obama, January 12, 2016, during the State of the Union address.

Comment: Obama is calling for a higher standard of debate, and to not demonize political opponents as unpatriotic.

"Now we move on to CNN's Reliable Sources. This is their version of the media navel-gazing. This is the show where the media analyzes itself and supposedly calls out its problems or sings its own praises. Michael Harrison is the guest. He's the publisher and editor of Talkers magazine. Brian Stelter, the host, says, "Do you credit talk radio with Donald Trump's success in the past six, seven --" Now, that question, let me explain the question. People on the left -- and remember, I made a point of this last week. You have to understand the way these questions are asked and where they come from, and it's not just the Democrats. The Republicans are the same way. When it comes to you, people they think are considered to be average, ordinary Americans, you must understand one thing: They do not believe you are capable of independent thought. Whatever you think, if it goes against what they want to believe, if you happen to support things they don't think should be, if you believe things they don't think should be, then somebody's to blame for making them think that, for making you think that, and it's always been me. Talk radio has always been blamed for what you do and what you think. And Brian Stelter (obviously schooled in this art) thinks the same thing, that you are incapable making up your own mind about anything. You're incapable, otherwise you'd be a good liberal. You'd be a good liberal and willingly turn over your life to the government. You don't want to do that. You want to turn your life over to talk radio. Therefore, you are mentally disabled. You are incompetent; you're incapable."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, January 11, 2016.

Comment: Limbaugh is accusing certain people (Democrats, Republicans, and media) of caricaturing talk radio listeners as stupid.

I'm not like the Republicans, who pick a position and stick with it regardless of evidence and try to, you know, live in an evidence-free zone the best they can.
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 11, 2016, during interview with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.

Comment: Clinton is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth.

QUESTIONER: Is some of this trust issue, fairly or otherwise, can some of that be traced back to the fact that your position has evolved on several key issues, do you think?

CLINTON: Well I don't see why. I don't know anybody whose positions haven't evolved. Why would I be held responsible for evolving positions, which I think is a strength as you learn more. But if you mention specific positions then I'm more than happy to respond. If I'm the only person ever running for office in America who has – quote – evolved positions, I would be surprised.
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 11, 2016, during interview with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.

Comment: Clinton is arguing that flip-flopping is not necessarily a bad thing.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declined on Monday to say if she has been in communication with any of the women involved in the sex scandals during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Asked if she has had any interactions with them, or feels empathy for any of them, Clinton told The Des Moines Register: “No, I have nothing to say and I will leave it to voters to determine whether any of that is at all relevant to their decision.”
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 11, 2016, during interview with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.

Comment: This is an evasion, of the "not my decision" kind. Why can't Clinton state whether she's had any contact with the women involved in her husband's sex scandal, and whether she has any empathy for them? And, of course voters will have to decide whether Bill Clinton's behavior is relevant to her candidacy, but that doesn't mean she can't express an opinion on the matter, does it?

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