A little back and forth

Normally these op-ed arguments go one way: pundit makes them, you must sit in stunned silence at the lunacy or the genius.  This week, however, we get a chance to see a little back-and-forth.  Well just once–once back, once forth (not sure if that phrase is supposed to work this way).  Anyway.  Here is Eugene Robinson on Newt Gingrich:

The latest example comes in an interview with the conservative Web site National Review Online. Unsurprisingly, he was criticizing President Obama. Bizarrely, according to the Web site, he said the following: "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" According to Newt, this is "the most accurate, predictive model" for the president's actions, or policies or something.

What in the world is "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior" supposed to mean? That Obama is waging a secret campaign to free us from the yoke of British oppression?

So Robinson wonders what Newt's claim means.  Here's Newt's Spokesperson's reponse today in the Post:

Speculation on the origins of the worldview of world leaders has been going on since there have been world leaders, and the influence of fathers is often the strongest influence. The reaction to Newt Gingrich's remarks has bordered on irrationality. Mr. Robinson asserted that merely bringing up President Obama's father in this way is equivalent to doubting that the president is a U.S. citizen, and others have gone so far as to suggest that doing so is coded racism. What is so off-limits about Mr. Obama's past, specifically his father?

Nice.  Robinson did not say anything was "off limits."  He wondered what the hell Gingrich's approving citation of the blathering D'Souza was supposed to mean.  He didn't question the legitimacy of the remarks, he questioned their meaning and by extension their cogency. 

This is why we can't have nice discussions, part 3,453.

 

3 thoughts on “A little back and forth”

  1. Hey John,
    I wonder: is the D'Souza line a form of genetic fallacy?  In this form: X was A's father, and so A's worldview is a recapituation of that of X's.  Isn't one way to respond to the Gingrich non-response is to say: it's not off limits to reason this way, it's just fallacious

  2. Hm.  I'm thinking a little more ad hominem bad company variety. 

    That should have been the response of the Post editor.  Or this: you have not responded to his points!

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