Saturday, March 18, 2006


Now They Tell Us

Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows. The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position. [...] Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic. [...] A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.
It's only been seven years, after all, that Bush has been on the national scene. I know I'm not the only person who got Bush's number the first time I heard him talk. What took the AP so long to figure this out?
What took them so long? They had to wait for Bush's numbers to stay below 40% for more than a month.
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