I thought this segment of the Daily Show underscored just what distinguishes it from much of the rest of Cable TV media. Despite being a comedy show, they somehow managed, by the art of just stopping and thinking for a second, to show just how awful an arguer Paul Ryan is. For Ryan, the former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, accused Obama of straw manning him in his inaugural address. From the Washington Post:
“I think when the president does kind of a switcheroo like that, what he’s trying to say is that we’re maligning these programs that people have earned throughout their working lives,” Ryan said. “So, it’s kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadowbox a straw man in order to win an argument by default, is essentially what that rhetorical device is that he uses, over and over and over.”
Yes, I found that incoherent as well. In any case, the Daily Show pointed out in exquisite detail just how accurate Obama had been in referring to (without naming) Ryan. Here’s Jonathan Chait doing the same thing.
Obviously Obama hasn’t done anything wrong. So Ryan’s accusation of fallacy is specious. Worse, it’s a akin to flopping: calling foul when there isn’t one is itself a kind of fallacious move, an attempt to sidetrack the conversation. It deserves its own name. Anyone?
Flopping is annoying in sports and it’s annoying in argument. There should be some kind of penalty.