Have we embedded video before?

This is fun.


 But, it raises a more interesting logical point. Commentators and pundits treat positions as though they are arbitrary "commitments"–this  is some sort of political "decisionism" that reduces everything to ideology.This simplifies their job, the only thing they have to track is whether a candidate is 'for' or 'against' something. It also makes for nice narratives of the flip-flop sort. 

What is obfuscated by this lens is that people hold their commitments for reasons. Obama might oppose opening the OCS and ANWR to drilling as a means to the goal of energy independence or lowering gas prices in the short term and long term because there is no reason to believe that they are a means to these ends.

 He can quite consistently support the same policy for some other end–in this case, to gain investment in alternative energy that will probably help move us towards less dependence on foreign energy, help make transportation and other energy uses cheaper, and (pace Krauthammer, maybe "save the planet").

Of course, this subtlety can't be explained in an interview or you suddenly start to look all Al Gore. The viewer either gets this or she/he doesn't. The interviewer deliberately obfuscates a distinction (I suspect) he understands in order to play the "brash interviewer" role he's seen on Fox.

Even after O. makes the point, less pedantically than I have, the interviewer tries the same trick with Yucca mountain. 

I guess that there is a sort of scope fallacy, or a sort amphiboly. "Obama opposes drilling for reason x." becomes "Obama opposes drilling." Or maybe a mistake in generalization: "Obama opposes drilling for reason x" "Obama always opposes drilling." 



4 thoughts on “Have we embedded video before?”

  1. Funny you write this.  As today we have at least three op-eds on drilling.  Krugman picks the weakest of the Republican arguments–John McCain’s and the Republican leadership in evidence this week–and makes fun of them (rightly) for making it.  He of course ignores what might be very good reasons to drill for more oil (we’re always going to need some, and perhaps some of things Krauthammer said last week).  The fact is, of course, there has been no forward looking energy policy of the kind the Democrats favor for a very long time.  Most Republicans, and some very prominent Democrats, blocked sensible regulation on efficiency, and insisted that conservation was perhaps, perhaps, a sign of personal virtue but nothing more (Dick Cheney).

    Krauthammer, on the other hand, distorts Obama’s position and makes fun of him for it (wrongly) while making a point I think Obama would agree with–i.e., have a comprehensive energy plan which increases oil supply.  Whether granting more offshore leases is the way to do that, when as Obama points out, there are already existing leases, is a real question that should be addressed.  Perhaps someone might point out that oil companies can drill where they have already been given permission (but haven’t).  And we’ll see about the leases later.

    Gerson, on the same topic, engages in a similar distortion of Obama’s position to make the point that we need all around solutions (a good point). 

  2. What an embarrassing collection of opinion pieces. You know it’s bad when Brooks’ faux Dear Abby cranky-old man schtick is the best read of the lot. .

    What’s funny about the drilling argument is that, as far as I can see, the only people who would really stand to gain are the oil companies and their employees. The argument that this would benefit the consumer substantially and in a reasonable time-frame have been refuted. On the other hand if we demand more oil, then there is no reason not to drill domestically apart from local environmental risks.

    There’s a better read ;here..

  3. And on the question of these polls that show overwhelming support for lifting the moratorium (cited by Kraut, and popular with Repub. pols.) see here. original source here

    It’s really the same sort of thing as the fallacy in the video–cite a poll without the qualifications, and treat positions as though they are context-free commitments.

Comments are closed.