Now that a Democrat is President, some Republicans and other conservatives have rediscovered the fine art of logical analysis. I think that is something we ought to applaud. But their memories are short and their skills are rusty. Take for example the following pot-and-kettle peice from a former speechwriter to George W. Bush, Noam Neusner. He writes:
Some people get quoted in presidential speeches by writing heartfelt letters to the president about personal loss, or by doing something heroic, like landing a plane in the icy Hudson River.
I just sit in the Oval Office, and mouth off to President Barack Obama, one inanity after the next. And sure enough, my words—word for word, mind you!—show up in his biggest speeches.
Who am I? Sotus—Straw man of the United States. I'm Mr. Obama's most trusted rhetorical friend.
In his speeches, Mr. Obama says there are "those" who suggest we "can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures." He suggests there are "some" who are content to let America's economy become, at best, "number two." He says that on health care, "some people" think we should do nothing.
Listen, there is no "some people." He's just quoting me, Sotus.
Like William Safire before him, Mr.Neusner confuses not naming your opponent specifically with the straw man (well, actually the hollow man). They're different. See, Presidents don't typically name their opponents in arguments. George W.Bush, the man for whom the author of this clueless piece wrote words, did it all of the time–in speeches. Sometimes, of course, and Mr.Neusner is right about this, the "some" is more fantastical than others. Sometimes, however, the "some" is almost exactly the platform of the opposition. Skipping a few paragraphs (as always folks, I expect you read the entire piece I discuss!):
And then there was the nice talk we had right before that historic January afternoon, when he was sworn in. I turned to him and said: "Mr. President-elect, our system of government can really only tolerate small plans, and limited ambitions." Think how good it felt to hear my own words echoing across the Mall: "There are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done." Good one, Mr. President!
As an assignment for the folks at home, try to identify whose views is accurately characterized by that bolded part. For that matter, do that with the rest of this piece. Just for fun. And just to close out with a little bit of absolutely justifiable tu quoque:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
Guess who said that? More here.