Argumentum ad bawitdabam

So we’re doing this.  Kid Rock gave a speech about his upcoming Senate bid during one of his concerts.  It was not well-composed, but it did have something that looked like an argument in it.  And here we are, seeing if we can do some logic with the American Badass.  Here’s the speech:

And a transcript of it is available here (provided, btw, by Metal Injection).

Rock gave two arguments of note.  One had an interesting bit of complication about taxes and entitlement programs to it.  Here’s the relevant piece:

It seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance but wants us all to pay. And to be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that. ‘Cause god has blessed me and made my pockets fat.

“But redistribution of wealth, seems more like their plan. I don’t believe that you should say sacrifice, do things by the book and then have to take care of some deadbeat, milking the system, lazy ass, motherfucking man.

So, here’s what I see to it.  Rock holds that he’s OK with government subsidized health insurance, and he’s happy to pay in to that because he’s rich.  But he thinks that there’s a limit to what government entitlements he’s willing to support — and so he’s against free riders to the system.  (He runs a follow-up to the argument about ‘struggling single parents’ and the threat of ‘women, who can’t even take care of themselves, but keep having kid after fucking kid’).

But here’s the crucial thing.  It looks like Rock is saying his defaults are on supporting these entitlement programs, and he’s not willing to let the fact that there are free riders defeat support for these programs.  He just wants to stop the free riders from doing what they are doing.  Now, how he proposes to stop them is bonkers. In all the cases, he proposes that we ‘lock up’ those who are taking advantage of the programs.  That free riding is productive of outrage does not imply that free riders must be punished with incarceration.  Hence an argument from outrage.

What’s important here is noting that, again, Rock’s defaults are on supporting the programs.  It looks like he can distinguish his disappointment with those who cheat them from the fact that the programs work for those who really need them.  Again, his over-reaction to one shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he’s made a good move with the other.  (Well, perhaps it can overshadow it a bit … are we really going to ‘lock up’ people who have more kids than someone like Rock thinks they should while on welfare?)

The second argument is just a piece of word-salad that seems to come out as a case for him to be President.  Here’s the relevant bit:

Kid Rock for senate has got folks in disarray. Wait till they hear Kid Rock for president of the U.S.A.. ‘Cause wouldn’t it be a sight to see, President Kid Rock in Washington, D.C.. Standing on the Oval Office like a G. Holding my dick ready to address the whole country.

I’ll look the nation dead in the eyes, live on TV, and simply tell them, you never met a motherfucker quite like me

This image is very hard to erase from a mind.

As far as I can see, this is a form of ad populum, one that runs that because the Kid is dope/fly/cool, he should occupy the highest political office in the land.  The fact that the interest in his candidacy has ‘got folks in disarray’ is a form of the negative ad populum we’ve discussed a few times, one that runs:

P: If I do X, it will drive liberals/elites crazy

C: I should do X.

Again, I’m calling the move now negative ad populum, because the core of the line of argument is that the judgment of a certain class of people is so badly aligned, they are a barometer for the correct decision, except by way of negation.  You just do whatever would make them mad, or the opposite of what they would do.   Rock is, in many ways, running this argument convergently — both as an ad populum (I’m cool, so deserving the Presidency), and as a negative ad populum (my candidacy drives the libs nuts, so I’m deserving of more votes).  Of course, as with any ad populum, the matter is regularly underdetermined by the premises.  But, hey, when you’ve got a rock show to run, who has time for relevant premises, amirite?



6 thoughts on “Argumentum ad bawitdabam”

  1. Hey Scott–

    Great post. From what I can tell, his platform is an incoherent mix of long-standing memes about poor people. Two observations. First, are we going with “Rock” for short? Second, throwing the freeloaders in jail is much more expensive than funding their healthcare–when they’re in jail you’re on the hook for everything–food, clothes, lights, etc. Think of how pissed Rock would be if he heard this!

  2. Although many people would probably scratch their heads and wonder who you were talking about, it nonetheless somehow seems fitting to reference his birth name and call him “Mr. Ritchie”.

  3. I just read the whole thing. Some more good bits:

    “And if you wanna take a knee and sit there during our Star Spangled Banner, call me a racist because I’m not PC and think you have to remind me that black lives matter. Nazis. F–king bigots. And now again the KKK? I say f–k all you racists. Stay the hell away.

    And why, these days, is everything so gay? Gay rights, transgender this and that. I say let gay folks get married if they want to and I’m not even close to a deathtrap. But things shouldn’t be this complicated, and no you don’t get to choose because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use. [Cheers]”

    Why is, indeed, everything SO gay?

  4. Hey Aaron,
    Thanks for the suggestion. I do wonder what the norm will be if he is elected — will he continue to use his stage name? Is it what will be on ballots?

  5. Hey John,
    First, I wonder if the ‘lock em up’ line is more for the sake of retribution against free riders, not keeping things in the black budget-wise.
    Second, about Mr. Ritchie’s line on gay rights, what is the denial that he’s close to a ‘deathtrap’ mean? Some arguments, I think, depend on idioms that seem to pick their audience. This is one that I’m clearly not invited to evaluate, right?

  6. In Michigan, unless he legally changed his name to “Kid Rock” at least ten years before, he will have to either (a) change his name to “Kid Rock” with the name change disclosed on the ballot, or (b) run as Robert Ritchie.

    The field for the Republican Senate primary (to run against Debbie Stabenow) is already pretty crowded. He will have difficulty getting the nomination even if he get all of his homies in cell block six to vote for him.

    I might once have called it a publicity stunt for a celebrity with a questionable sense of fashion, boorish public persona, and who cannot be trusted to behave with any amount of decorum if allowed into the White House to announce a run for the Senate, but…. (Okay, I still think it’s a publicity stunt.)

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