Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Bush's Brilliance - Answering the unasked questions

I've been saying for a while that the most impressive thing that I've seen about the Bush administration is his ability to undercut his opponents' arguments by making a caricature out of their argument and then refuting that caricature. This technique was most obviously displayed during his recent press conference in the East wing. There were several examples of this including:

"QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 commission?

BUSH: ...because the 9/11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

QUESTION: I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

BUSH: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 Commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them."

This inverted the question to appear as though the reporter was asking why the President would attend the meeting at all, not why he was insisting on having Cheney with him. By misconstruing, or rephrasing, a question, the President has proven himself very adept at avoiding tough answers by making his questioners seem absurd.

Today's Wash Post has an article by Milbank which describes this technique to a tee, better than I ever could have:

"It is an ancient debating technique: Caricature your opponent's argument, then knock down the straw man you created. In the 2004 campaign, Bush has been knocking down such phantoms on subjects from Iraq to free trade."

Please check it out as he catalogues numerous examples of Bush using this technique. My favorite:

"Some say, 'Well, maybe the recession should have been deeper,' " Bush said last summer. "That bothers me when people say that. You see, a deeper recession would have meant more families would have been out of work."

Now who could argue with that?"


Post a Comment

<< Home