Friday, June 24, 2005

What'ever

A really cranky editorial from the Des Moines Register: And while we're all at it; should I complain about the Des Moines Register editorial board's habit of embargoing letters to the editor for political purposes, or should I stomp my feet about the papers general interest in using news placement to promote a particular political agenda?

Oh -- you guys (of course meant in a gender neutral off hand sort of way) -- go home, eat some rice pudding and take a nap.

Why debate? Attack the critic

By Register Editorial Board

June 24, 2005

We have just one question for people who disagree with our editorials.

Why do you hate America?

Pretty good comeback, eh?

We're trying to modernize our operation. The editorial page's fuddy-duddy old techniques of persuasion - marshaling the facts, trying to make a logical argument - are way behind the times. The new mode of persuasion is ad hominem attack to squelch even the tiniest dissent.

We take our cue from the Bush administration, which has elevated to an art form the technique of deflecting criticism by attacking the critic.

The other day, for instance, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said descriptions of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo sounded like what you might expect from a totalitarian government.

The White House immediately accused Durbin of doing "a real disservice to our men and women in uniform."

Of course, Durbin did no such thing. His remarks included a poor choice of metaphors (for which he apologized), but his criticism was not of the troops, it was of the administration. By accusing Durbin of disrespecting the troops, the administration neatly avoided answering the criticism of itself.

See how it works?

Republican congressional leaders pulled the same stunt on House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi after she described the invasion of Iraq as a "grotesque mistake." She was accused of failing to support the troops and lending comfort to the insurgents. She did no such thing, but by saying that Pelosi did something she didn't do, and then feigning outrage over it, GOP leaders neatly ducked the underlying question: Was invasion a mistake?

A majority of Americans have concluded it was a mistake, according to the polls. That being the case, how much longer can the administration and its supporters avoid accountability for their conduct of the war by pretending any question somehow undermines the troops?

The answer: as long as the public lets them get away with it.


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