Pat Buchanan has concerns about the democracy movement, especially in the Arab world:
For it may fairly be said of this generation that it worships democracy. Indeed, the fanaticism of this faith in democracy as the path to worldly salvation causes many to hail any and all revolutions against any and all autocrats. . . . Before we endorse the right of all peoples to have what they want, perhaps we should know what they want. For in the Mideast, it appears that most would like to throw us out and throw our Israeli friends into the sea.
But is the democracy movement about giving people what they want? I thought it was about self-rule. That doesn't mean that they get what they want, but that they are in charge of their own political lives. And so endorsing democratic movements in the Arab world may give a stage to the Anti-Americans and Anti-Israel crowd. But that doesn't mean that they get to have what they want. That just means that these folks also have a say in how their country functions. Moreover, isn't one of the thoughts about democratization that once you get the factions working on the hard business of governing, they lose their bloodlust. They may squabble, but they become less marginalized. Governing in a democracy should have a moderating effect. I'm not familiar with any evidence that shows that (or otherwise, either), but regardless of whether it's right, Buchanan's point is moot. If people deserve political autonomy, then they deserve it and the right to make bad decisions with it. In fact, if that right didn't have the option for making bad decisions (ie.g.., if you were about to make the wrong one and then everything shuts down), it doesn't really count as a right, does it?
Mallard Fillmore's recent take on the President's rhetorical strategies:
This is an argument about arguments — namely, that scare tactics are bad, but it's worse to be a hypocrite about using them. So the score tally goes: Republicans -1 for using scare tactics, Obama +1 for chastising them for using the tactic. Obama -1 for using scare tactics, and -1 for being a hypocrite about using them. (And +1 for Fillmore for pointing out the scare tactic, and +1 for pointing out the hypocrisy.)
Now, a question. Surely arguing that policy X will have bad consequences (or not following policy X will have the bad consequences) appeals to people's fears, but (a) so long as those things are bad and worth fearing, and (b) X is a crucial element in either avoiding or bringing about those consequences, aren't arguments from fear also good arguments from prudence? The scare tactic is not composed of simply pointing out that something bad will happen if we don't do something — it's comprised in shutting down discussion about what is the best way to avoid the bad consequences. Take for example the insurance salesman who says something like: people your age often can get sick and die with no warning — that's why you need St. Bartholomew Insurance to take care of your family if that happens. The fact of the sudden death may mean that you should get insurance, but it certainly doesn't mean that you should get St. Bartholomew Ins. We don't get why the Republicans or Obama are using scare tactics here, but it is a real question for us when we're being scared to accept a conclusion that doesn't follow.
Bill O'Reilly uses the two wrongs approach to argumentative moves: if they use this tactic, you use it right back on them.
Right now, Democrats are scaring senior citizens into believing their present benefits will be cut if Obama and the Democrats lose. In order to counter that fiction, the GOP must scare right back. If America's debt is not arrested, the country will decline rapidly and in drastic ways.
Too bad the tactics weren't, instead, use clear and honest argument.