Sunday, February 28, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 28, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"You all have friends thinking about voting for Donald Trump. Friends do not let friends vote for con artists. All right, so you want to have a little fun? All right, what is Donald Trump do when things go wrong? He takes to Twitter. I have him right here. Let's read some. You'll have fun. All right, number one, here's the first one, "Lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night." This is true. "The problem is, he is a chocker. And once a chocker, always a choker." I guess that's what he meant to say. He spelled choker, C-H-O-C-K-E-R, chocker. He called me Mr. Meltdown. Let me tell you something, during one of the breaks, two of the breaks, he went backstage, he was having a meltdown. First, he had this little makeup thing applying, like, makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches. He wanted a full-length mirror. Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet. I don't know. Then I see him pacing back and forth, and then he is huddled in the corner talking to somebody, waving his arm up and down and the person trying to calm him down. Any way, but I'm a chocker. All right, next tweet. "Leight weight chocker, Marco Rubio, looks like a little boy on stage, not presidential material." He meant to say lightweight, but he spelled it L-E-I-G-H T, so he got it wrong. "Looks like a little boy on stage." It's not that I look like a little boy, it's not that I would be the youngest president but he would be the oldest president ever elected. So you start to worry. All right, last one, "Wow, every poll said I won the debate last night." Now, this is him about himself, OK. "Great honer." I think he meant to say "honor." I don't know how he got that wrong, because the "E" and "O" are nowhere near each other oh there on the keyboard. That's what I'm thinking. So how do this guy three tweets misspell words so badly? I only reach two conclusions. Number one, that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business where he went. Or number two, just like Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets. All right, so guys, we have a con artist as the front-runner in the Republican Party. A guy, a guy who has made a career out of telling people lies so they come in and buy his product or whatever he does. You ever heard of Trump vodka. You have? Well, it isn't around any more. Or a Trump mattress, or Trump air, or Trump ice or Trump water. Those are all businesses that are gone, because they were disasters. Trump hot air, yeah."
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 26, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Rubio is mocking Trump for his gaffes, as well for Trump's mocking of Rubio. It's not clear how much (if any) of this is meant comically.

TRUMP: We won the evangelicals, we won with young, we won with old, we won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated - I love the poorly educated!

O'REILLY: That was a smart statement because by saying he loves the poorly educated, Trump is slapping the elites whom many voters despise.
-- Pundit Bill O'Reilly, February 24, 2016, commenting on remarks made the previous day by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump upon winning the GOP Nevada Caucus.

Comment: O'Reilly is suggesting that Trump is using code words.

The father of Sabermetrics is clearly not a fan of Donald Trump, and he is using his own statistical analysis to explain why the Republican front-runner will not be the 45th president of the United States.

In a post published this week to his website titled "Trump, as in Rump," author Bill James, who is known as one of the pioneers of the analysis of baseball and in-game statistics, broke down his reasoning in a variety of ways.

"I don’t think that Trump can win, frankly, because I don’t think there are enough morons to elect him. A certain percentage of the American public is just morons; that’s the way it is," James wrote in one section. "When you divide the public in two then divide the voters in one of those halves among five candidates or more, a candidate can win by dominating the moron vote because it only takes about one-seventh of the total population to take the 'lead' under those circumstances."

But in a general election situation, James posited, "when you’re talking about needing 51 percent of the whole population, rather than needing 30 percent of half of the population, you run out of morons. I hope we will."

"I hope Trump will lose, because I hope he runs out of morons to vote for him. Again, I stress that I am not trying to tell you what you should think about Donald Trump. I am merely telling you what I think about him," he said. (In his Tuesday night victory speech, Trump noted his support among Americans without college degrees, remarking, "I love the poorly educated.")
-- From a February 24, 2016, story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: "Morons" is a form of "stupid" name-calling.

"Patrick Leahy looks like E.T. all grown up, about 10 times more unattractive."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 24, 2016, in the 3rd hour of his radio show, referring to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and the alien in the film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".

Comment: This is name-calling, I'm guessing of the "disgusting" variety.


If Hillary Clinton manages to beat Bernie Sanders, the early primaries have already revealed that there’s only one strategy for the general election against a Republican, be it Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz: Scorch the earth.

There was a scenario, which looks more like a fantasy, in which Clinton was a movement. Women in their twenties, thirties, and forties would rally to her the way black Americans rallied to Obama; she would run on her own mantle of change.

In reality, nobody is that excited about Hillary Clinton, and young voters, women and men — the foot soldiers of any Democratic Party movement — aren’t coming around. She lost a resounding 82% of voters under 30 in Nevada. Her campaign now rests on the hope that voters of color like her well enough, if nowhere near as much as they like Obama. And that means that when she faces a Republican, she will have to destroy him — something the people who will be doing the destroying acknowledged when I asked them earlier this month.

“The slogan is ‘Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid,’” said Paul Begala, who is an adviser to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA.

Begala’s group works on the negative side of the political ledger, and he argued that Clinton will have supporters — Sanders among them — helping to rally Democrats. But he and other top Democratic operatives agreed that 2016 will be, as the technical term for negative politics goes, “a contrast election.” “This is headed to a more contrastive kind of election,” said David Axelrod, the architect of Obama’s 2008 campaign. “People want to know you’re going to lead with a positive vision, but within the context of that, you can set up a contrast. Every campaign has to do that, she may have to do it more intensely.”
-- From a February 24, 2016, BuzzFeed story by Ben Smith about Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: This is "negative politics" rhetoric. How much of what the article describes is inappropriate behavior?

"We have been dealing, in the last seven years, with an unprecedented level of obstructionism against President Obama. Literally, it turns out, on the day that Obama was inaugurated, Republicans came together and said, what are we going to do? And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, make it as difficult as he could to do anything. Now, we have had to fight through that and I've been at the president's side time and time again, getting a stimulus bill through when we were in the midst of a horrendous recession, The Affordable Care Act, etc. etc. etc. But what you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through. And this -- and this is on top of this birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to de-legitimize the president of the United States."
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), February 23, 2016.

Comment: Sanders is accusing Republicans of obstruction. He says that the the "birther" movement that claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S.A. – and perhaps the obstruction from Republicans more generally? – is based on bigotry. His remarks involve a variety of generalizations and exaggerations: how many Republicans "came together" and declared they would obstruct everything Obama wanted to do? How many Republicans supported the "birther" movement? And, in opposing any piece of Obama's agenda, how many Republicans did it as a matter of racism against Obama as opposed to a legitimate difference of opinion? Is Sanders part of an effort to "delegitimize" all opposition to Obama, or would that also be an exaggeration?

Just left the caucus site. Some of the nastiest people I have ever been with. (Trump supporters). We have their hate and rage on tape. Others around them were embarrassed for them. It was scary and sad. … All candidates have someone speak for them at the caucus. In the middle of my speech Trump walked in. Thank God, I was just saying "Don't give in to hatred and rage. America is great because America is good. Anyone that plays to the worst part of us, your rage and anger is not helping us become good." I believe Trump, whether he knows it or not, is grooming brown shirts. Don't believe me, go to a caucus. He is even smaller in person than I remember. I think it is simply what he says that make him appear that way.
-- Pundit Glenn Beck, February 23, 2016.

Comment: Beck is comparing Trump supporters to Nazis.

"Rick is a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected".
-- Alex Conant, communications director for the campaign of Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 22, 2016. He was referring to Rick Tyler, spokesperson for the campaign of Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who fired Tyler earlier that day.

Comment: This is the "they'll say anything" caricature.

"Our next president has to be someone that can bring this country together, some level of unity. Not unanimity, we're not going to agree on every issue, but someone that will seek to unite Americans, not pit us against each other".
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 20, 2016.

Comment: This is "unify the country" rhetoric.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 21, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"Ted Cruz is a dirty player. He lies like I've never seen anybody – and I've dealt with some pretty bad people, I've dealt with much, much worse people than Ted Cruz, much tougher than Ted Cruz, a much, much tougher group of people than Ted Cruz, but I've never dealt with anybody that lies as much as Ted Cruz. … Ted Cruz is a serious liar, I guess you could call him a serial liar … I have never met anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz. … I have never met a worse liar than Ted Cruz, and I've met some unbelievable professional liars".
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, February 20, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: This is "liar" rhetoric.

“We will not allow Ted Cruz to do to Marco in South Carolina what he did to Ben Carson in Iowa,” Rubio communications director Alex Conant said in statement to reporters that captured the tone of recent days. “Cruz has proven that he is willing to do or say anything to get elected. Over the last 10 days, the Cruz campaign has lied, smeared, fabricated and even Photoshopped. We fear the worst dirty tricks are yet to come. We strongly urge all South Carolina Republicans to beware of suspicious news reports, emails and social media posts during tomorrow’s voting. The Cruz campaign will do anything to stop Marco Rubio's momentum."

“Politics in South Carolina is a blood sport,” Haley said, gesturing to her footwear. “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement, but because you have to be prepared to kick at any time.”
-- From a February 19, 2016, story in Politico by Nick Gass, featuring a quote from Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC).

Comment: Conant is using the "they'll say anything" caricature, while Haley is using violent rhetoric.

"He has a very, very highly developed lizard brain. … He has a feral intelligence. He reminds me of the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them, and he is brilliant at that. But he doesn't know anything about policy".
-- Pundit Joe Klein, February 18, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Klein is demonizing and dehumanizing Trump. Also, does Trump literally know nothing about policy?

“We ran a hard campaign against each other. He said things that hurt my feelings, I said things that hurt his feelings. It was tough! But he won and I lost. And I said, ‘I want to do everything I can to get you elected,’ and I did. I did everything I could think of to do.”

One woman, perhaps a decade younger than Hillary, with a thick Midwestern accent, stood up to speak her piece: “I want to say that when I listen to you, I feel that the political discourse is taken back to sanity.” Knowing laughter rippled through the crowd. “I really feel like with the Republicans . . . that there’s almost a collusion to all say things that aren’t . . . sane. So I want to really say thank you to you because you’re pleasant, you’re joyous, you’re happy. And your running for president is, I think, fundamentally an act of generosity.”
-- From a February 17, 2016, story in Vogue Magazine by Jonathan Van Meter covering Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her campaign in 2016, and referring back to her contest with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in 2008, who won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Comment: Is Clinton indulging in the "they'll say anything" caricature with respect to herself? Also, the woman speaking to Clinton is deriding Republicans as not being sane.

"But I want to mention one more critical area: Protecting that most fundamental of rights—the right to vote. Across our country, Republican governors and legislatures are erecting one barrier after another that make it harder for black people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past, and we need to call it for what it is. And in the past few days the stakes got even higher. Justice Scalia’s passing means the court hangs in the balance. Now the Republicans say they’ll reject anyone President Obama nominates, no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn’t have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he’s not the real president. That’s in keeping with what we’ve heard all along, isn’t it? Many Republicans talk in coded, racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe. This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics—or our country."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 16, 2016.

Comment: Clinton is demonizing Republicans, calling them bigots. Clinton is also accusing Republicans of using "code words". Would it be appropriate for Republicans to say, "Clinton's rhetoric is code for Marxism and communism, we need to call it for what it is"?

"This is a kind of court unpacking. And it`s not just, you know, holding the president and his nominees hostage. It`s holding the country and its highest court hostage."
-- Legal scholar Laurence Tribe, February 15, 2016, referring to Republican resistance to President Barack Obama nominating a successor to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Comment: This is "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

"He is a liar, he is a hypocrite, and he hates America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 15, 2016, referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Comment: In addition to calling him a liar and a hypocrite, Levin is demonizing Schumer as hating his country.

"The devil is back in Hell! Yay!"
-- Editor Charles Manning, February 13, 2016, in a tweet (later deleted) responding to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Comment: This is a clear case of demonizing.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 14, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
"I do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS in 2016."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 11, 2016, during the Democratic Party debate. Clinton was responding to remarks by Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who criticized Clinton for voting in 2002 to invade Iraq. "ISIS" is another name for The Islamic State.

Comment: Clinton is correct that whether her vote in 2002 was right or wrong doesn't determine whether she is correct in her policies regarding terrorism in 2016 (such an argument would be ad hominem reasoning).

Ted Cruz is the definition of sleaze.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, February 11, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: This is "disgusting" rhetoric.

Of course, Democrats also sometimes campaigned outrageously, and some Republicans scorned the politics of hate. There was a marvelous scene in 2008 when John McCain was running against Obama, and a woman at a McCain rally suggested that Obama was an Arab who couldn’t be trusted. McCain corrected her and then praised his rival: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Political nastiness and conspiracy theories were amplified by right-wing talk radio, television and websites — and, yes, there are left-wing versions as well, but they are much less influential. Democrats often felt disadvantaged by the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but in retrospect Limbaugh and Fox created a conservative echo chamber that hurt the Republican Party by tugging it to the right and sometimes breeding a myopic extremism in which reality is irrelevant. … So today the leading candidate for president in the party of Lincoln is an ill-informed, inexperienced, bigoted, sexist xenophobe. And he’s not a conservative at heart, just a pandering opportunist. Donald Trump is the consequence of irresponsible politicking by Republican leaders, the culmination of decades of cultivating unrealistic expectations within the politics of resentment. It’s good to see leading Republicans standing up to him today, but the situation recalls the Chinese saying, qi hu nan xia — when you’re riding a tiger, the hard part is getting off.
-- Pundit Nicholas Kristof, February 11, 2016.

Comment: Kristof is accusing much of the Republican Party of being "extreme", and Trump of being a bigot. He is also claiming that is mostly Republicans who resort to the "politics of hate", though he doesn't offer any rigorous data to support this claim, so it amounts to the "only my opponent" caricature.

"[Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.)] said, ‘Insist from us and from each other a modicum of civility as the condition for serving you.’ … Our children are watching what we do. … If we lie about each other, they learn it’s okay to lie. … If they see us insulting each other like school kids, then they think, well, I guess that’s how people are supposed to behave. … We should insist on a higher form of discourse in our common life, one based on empathy and respect … We have to stand up and insist, no, reason matters, facts matter … When folks just make stuff up, they can’t go unchallenged. And that’s true for Democrats if you hear a Democratic make something up, and that’s true for a Republican if you see a Republican cross that line."
-- President Barack Obama, February 10, 2016.

Comment: Obama is calling for us to set a higher standard of debate. He is also claiming that someone – he does not say who – is acting as if facts don't matter. He is also failing to point out the various ways that he himself has failed to support civil discourse, which amounts to the "only my opponent" caricature.

"The thing about — there is a troll-like quality to Cruz. He operates below the level of human life. … Let me clarify it. I think he appeals — I think he appeals to people’s negativity rather than their joy. I don’t think people feel good about voting for Cruz, I think they feel — I don’t know what it is he appeals to. Now, people keep telling me he has inherited the libertarian crowd. I don’t see how. He doesn’t seem libertarian to me. He’s appealed to the Baptists up here, I don’t understand that. What is he, a theocrat? Maybe he is. I'm serious about the guy, there’s something enlivening about these other candidates that makes you feel good. There’s something about that guy – who’s always reminded me of Joe McCarthy – and there’s something about him that is negative and menacing. When I say below the level of human life, I mean the good nature of human life, not just being a person. Although –"
-- Pundit Chris Matthews, February 10, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Matthews was interrupted at the end of his remarks.

Comment: Matthews seems to pull back from using "subhuman" rhetoric to demonize Cruz (though it's not clear where he was about to go at the end of his statement), but he nonetheless does demonize Cruz as being somehow at odds with the "good nature of human life".

Rather than champion an optimistic message, which Clinton cannot plausibly sell at this point, she should focus on scaring the daylights out of the average Democratic voter about Bernie Sanders as presidential timber. Clinton can begin by pointing out that this Tuesday’s 5-4 Supreme Court move—estopping President Barack Obama’s climate change regulations—is merely a harbinger of things to come if the party abandons her, allowing the GOP to control all three branches of government come November.
-- Pundit Jacob Heilbrunn, February 10, 2016. His remarks referred to Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her chief rival, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Comment: Is Heilbrunn advocating "fear-mongering"?

While Bruno Mars gave her a run for her money, it was BeyoncĂ©’s riveting performance of her anti-brutality song “Formation” during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime performance that stole the show. Needless to say, apologists for police brutality were incensed.
-- Pundit Markos Moulitsas, February 9, 2016.

Comment: So, everyone disagreed with BeyoncĂ©’s Super Bowl halftime performance is a defender of police brutality? Of course not, Moulitsas is demonizing.

TRUMP: You heard the other night at the debate, they asked Ted Cruz – serious question – "Well, what do you think of waterboarding? Is it OK?" And, honestly, I thought he'd say "absolutely" and he didn't. He said, "Well,", you know, he's concerned about the answer. Because some people – [pointing into audience] She just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out because I don't want to say.

AUDIENCE MEMBER [unidentified]: He's a pussy!

TRUMP: OK. You're not allowed to say – and I never expect to hear that from you again – she said – I never expect to hear that from you again. She said he's a pussy. That's terrible.
-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, February 8, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Trump's offense at the audience member's remarks were clearly feigned.

Comment: This is name-calling, essentially saying that Cruz's positions are based on cowardice.

LIMBAUGH: Let's go to the audio sound bites. I think maybe I can give you an idea of what I'm talking about. This is a montage of a bunch of analysts from Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, on Rubio somehow squandering whatever gravitas that he had going into the debate Saturday night.

GABE GUTIERREZ: Will Marco Rubio be painted now, forever, as a robotic candidate?

MARK HALPERIN: A robotic quality.

ANA MARIE COX: He's already been portrayed by a lot of us as a fairly robotic candidate.

ANA NAVARRO: It was like when a robot gets water poured in it.

PETER ALEXANDER: Rubio is simply too programmed, too robotic.

RICHARD GRENELL: He was shown to be too robotic.

CARL CAMERON: That he’s robotic.

DANIEL HALPER: This narrative that he’s robotic.

STEPHEN HAYES: Robotic and repetitive.

BEN WHITE: He looked robotic.

AB STODDARD: Robotic talking points.

JOHN BERMAN: He is some kind of over-rehearsed robot.

LIMBAUGH: Now, I don't have anything other than anecdotal. I have seen a little videotape of voters talking about Rubio, and I have gone to comments sections of websites, and I haven't seen one voter talk about how Rubio was robotic. They've had other criticisms, and they've had other praise, but I haven't seen this Rubio was robotic. The media consensus -- and by the way, that's a cross section of every network that we have, at least one person on every network, "Rubio was robotic."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 8, 2016, playing audio clips of media personalities commenting on Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who had been criticized by Republican presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) for using scripted remarks while describing President Barack Obama.

Comment: Ironically (i.e., hypocritically?), these media personalities are robotically repeating the "talking point" that Rubio robotically repeats talking points.

RUBIO: As far as that message, I hope they keep running it, and I'm going to keep saying it because it is true. Barack Obama – yes, has he hired incompetent people to implement laws and run agencies? Absolutely. But when it comes to what he's trying to do to America, it is part of a plan. I'm gonna keep saying that, because not only is it the truth, it is part of our campaign. He has said he wanted to change the country, he's doing it in a way that is robbing us of everything that makes us special. I'm gonna keep saying that, because not only is it the truth, it is at the core of our campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But even after Chris Christie called you out for what he called, "canned speeches", "25-second canned speeches", you repeat it again, he said there you go again, that was not a good moment for you was it?

RUBIO: It is what I believe and it is what I am going to continue to say because it happens to be one of the reasons why I am running. This is the greatest country in the history of mankind because of a certain set of principles. Barack Obama wants us to abandon those principles, and he has spent seven years putting in place policies that rip them from us: undermining the Constitution, undermining free enterprise, undermining our standard in the world, weakening America, apologizing for us on the global stage. The reason why I'm running is if we elect someone like that for the next four years, I think it may be too late for America to turn around.
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 7, 2016, being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. The discussion concerned criticism from Republican presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who in a GOP debate the previous day had accused Rubio of using scripted remarks while describing President Barack Obama.

Comment: Rubio is rejecting the accusation that he is using talking points by insisting (correctly) that what matters is whether the points are true, not whether they are pre-written or off-the-cuff. However, Rubio's description of Obama as someone who is intentionally trying to destroy what is good about America amounts to demonizing, and perhaps also questioning Obama's patriotism.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Civility Watchdog Digest: February 7, 2016

A few examples of rhetoric worth looking at from the past week:
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. I want to bring this to Senator Cruz, then. Because Senator, you did said of Trump's behavior this week, that's not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe. Why not?

CRUZ: Well, you know, David, the assessment the voters are making here in New Hampshire and across the country is they are evaluating each and every one of us. They are looking to our experience. They are looking to our knowledge. They are looking to our temperament and judgment. They are looking to our clarity of vision and our strength of resolve. The world is getting much more dangerous. We've had seven years with Barack Obama in the oval office, a commander-in-chief that is unwilling even to acknowledge the enemy we're facing. This is a president who, in the wake of Paris, in the wake of San Bernardino, will not even use the words radical Islamic terrorism, much less focus on defeating the enemy. I am convinced every individual standing on this stage, would make a much better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And the primary voters are making the assessment for each of us, who is best prepared to keep this country safe, to rebuild the military, to rebuild our Navy, our Air Force, our Army, our Marines, and to ensure that we keep America safe.

MUIR: Senator Cruz, I did ask about Mr. Trump. You said he doesn't have the temperament to be commander-in-chief. Do you stand by those words?

CRUZ: I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make. And they are going to make it of each and everyone of us. They are going to assess who is level-headed, who has clear vision, who has judgment, who can confront our enemies, who can confront the threats we face in this country, and who can have the judgment when to engage and when not to engage -- both are incredibly important for a commander-in-chief, knowing how to go after our enemies. In the case of Iran, for example, who has the clarity of vision to understand that the Ayatollah Khamenei, when he chants, "Death to America," he means it. We need a president with the judgment and resolve to keep this country safe from radical Islamic terrorists.

MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you. We're going to continue on this notion of readiness and experience. I'm going to come back.

TRUMP: Am I allowed to respond? I have to respond.

MUIR: If you would like to respond, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: First of all, I respect what Ted just said, but if you noticed, he didn't answer your question.
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz, February 6, 2016, during the GOP presidential debate hosted by ABC News. David Muir was among the hosts, and Republican presidential contender Donald Trump one of the participants.

Comment: Trump is correct that Cruz evaded the question. In particular, he used the "voters must decide" evasion. As Muir noted, Cruz has previously expressed his opinion on whether Trump is suited to be president; why can't he repeat it, rather than saying it's "for the voters to decide"?

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last month mocked Donald Trump’s “New York values,” it wasn’t entirely clear what he was implying. This week we got a clue: For Cruz, “New York” is another way of saying “Jewish.” At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause. But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, February 5, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: Milbank is accusing Cruz of using code words, and bigoted ones, at that. Is the fact that Cruz criticizes "New York values" and then later uses the word "chutzpah" really a sound argument for claiming he's anti-Semitic? Yes, "chutzpah" is a "New York" word in the sense that it's Yiddish, and New York – having a large Jewish community – was the place for a lot of Yiddish words to enter the vocabulary of the U.S. But "bodega" and "deli" are similarly "New York" terms, stemming from Puerto Rican Spanish and German, respectively: does that mean "New York" is synonymous with "Puerto Rican" or "German"? It seems like Milbank is demonizing Cruz with a flimsy argument.

On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King summoned Ben Carson to a meeting at Carson's Washington hotel to express regret for his role in spreading the rumor just before the Iowa caucuses began that Carson was withdrawing from the presidential race.

"There was no malice on my part," King, a prominent surrogate for Iowa winner Ted Cruz, said in a phone interview. "We shook hands and we're done. We don’t have to discuss it again."

But that sentiment has become wishful thinking for the Cruz campaign.

Four days after winning the Iowa caucuses, Cruz's team is still struggling to answer questions about whether it relied on trickery to pad its lead by convincing Iowans that Carson — a rival for evangelical votes — was dropping out of the race. What the Cruz campaign initially called a knee-jerk response to ambiguous news reports has been revealed to be a more coordinated effort to steer Carson voters to the Cruz camp amid the chaotic caucus atmosphere.

Cruz's surrogates and staff are exasperated by all the attention.

"As long as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and, to a significantly lesser degree, Ben Carson can benefit from this, they will push it," King said. "It’s beyond the point where the facts matter. They’ll always continue to attack the credibility of Ted Cruz.” King added that he's not convinced that Carson actually did intend to drop out, suggesting that he might have reversed course after the Cruz issue erupted.
-- Rep. Steve King (R-IA), from a February 5, 2016, Politico story by Kyle Cheney.

Comment: King is accusing Cruz's critics of not caring about facts.

"Just got an e-mail here during the break. "Dear Rush: I'm missing something here in this outrage. I'm missing something in this outrage directed at Cruz. Trump, Palin, Carson all sound whiny to me. What in the world do they think they're doing? What business are they in, here?" Folks, maybe that describes some of you, the (crying) aspect of this. What it means, is Cruz is the front-runner. And this is apparently the only way they can go after him. I guess they don't think they can go after him on issues. I guess they don't see any other way to go at him. You know they're gonna go after the front-runner. I mean, it's part of the race. It's the name of the game here. Now, it does matter, I think, what you go after the front-runner on. You do run the risk of sounding -- I don't know -- whiny. I don't know what it is, but you gotta realize what business you're in here. But if there were a way to solidly attack Cruz on issues or substance, I think they would do that, too, and so far it's just about whatever his campaign did with Dr. Carson."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 3, 2016, commenting on criticism of Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz was being criticized for his campaign's behavior during the Iowa Caucus, in which they spread the false word that Republican presidential contender Ben Carson was dropping out of the GOP nomination process.

Comment: The seems like ad hominem reasoning. Limbaugh is dismissing the criticisms of Cruz on the grounds that his critics are losing to Cruz. Perhaps they are motivated by "sour grapes", but that doesn't mean their criticism is false.

GUTHRIE: Some of your Democratic allies, Democratic leaders have said point blank that Bernie Sanders – a democratic socialist, as he describes himself – cannot win a general election, that Republicans cannot wait to have an ad that has the hammer and the sickle. You have kind of tiptoed around it. But this is crunch time. If you believe it, why not come right out and say it: "Bernie Sanders, you may love him, Iowa voters, but he cannot win a general election"?

CLINTON: Well I know, Savannah, that is exactly what a lot of Democrats are saying, a lot of elected Democrats, people who want to take back the Senate in the 2016 election, want to add to the numbers of Democrats in the House, and maybe make some progress –

GUTHRIE: Are you saying it?

CLINTON: – in governors and state legislatures. But I think it's fair to say that he has to run his campaign, and present his views. We have differences, and I've been pointing out those differences. I think that it's important for me to tell voters what I want to achieve, and how I will go about doing that. Because I want them to hold me accountable. Then it's going to be up to caucus goers tonight, primary voters next in New Hampshire, to decide who they think offers the best path forward to keep the progress that we've made going.
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 1, 2016, during an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News. The question concerned Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Comment: This is an evasion. Clinton never answers the question of whether Sanders is electable in the general election, instead claiming that other Democrats believe Sanders is un-electable, and apparently saying the "voters must decide" whether they think Sanders can win. Of course, one of the ways for voters to decide whether they think voters can win is to consider the opinion of other Democrats, such as Clinton. Ironically, Clinton declares she wants to be "held accountable" even as she isn't answering the question that's been put to her.

TAPPER: You said – quote – "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e- mails." Should voters take from those comments that you think nothing was done was wrong when it comes to how Secretary Clinton handled classified information? Or is that not a fair –

SANDERS: No. No, that is not, I think, a fair assessment. I think this is a very serious issue. I think there is a legal process right now taking place. And what I have said -- and -- you know, and I get criticized. You know, Bernie, why don't you attack Hillary Clinton? There is a legal process taking place. I do not want to politicize that issue. It is not my style.
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), January 31, 2016, during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN. The question concerned Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the investigation of her use of a private email server during her time as head of the State Department.

Comment: How would it be "politicizing" for Sanders to express an opinion on whether he thinks Clinton's use of a private email server was appropriate? How would it be incompatible with the ongoing investigation (which sounds like an evasion)?

COSMOPOLITAN: Donald Trump has called your dad an abuser of women, and your mom his enabler. What do you think of his attacks on your parents?

CLINTON: I find what Donald Trump — and many of the Republicans, because it's not only Mr. Trump — say about Americans far more troubling than what he says about my parents.
-- Chelsea Clinton, from an interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine released January 31, 2016. The question concerned her parents: former President Bill Clinton, and Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: Does Clinton really answer the question? She says she finds Trump's rhetoric about Americans more troubling than the accusations about her father and mother, but that leaves open the matter of whether the accusations about her parents are true or troubling at all.