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Democrats Throwing Up Scarecrows and Bogeymen

Straw man arguments and scare tactics are no way to win an election.

by
Rand Simberg

Bio

August 5, 2008 - 12:00 am
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“There is no military solution.”

“We can’t drill our way out of this.”

How many times have we heard these tired, toxic bromides from the Democrats? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard them spouted on shouting talking head shows and on the campaign trail over the past months and years, I could single-handedly fund either presidential campaign. Not that I wouldn’t have much better uses for the money.

They are both straw-man arguments, of course, one of the favorite debating tactics of those who are losing the war of words, and desperate because they lack valid arguments. They pretend that someone has made an argument that is easily knocked down, and then they knock it down, and hope that no one was paying attention to the actual argument, which is much more robust. In both cases, there is a false implication not only that their political opponents are proposing a single solution, but that the solution proposed is in fact not even a part of the “true” solution.

But while there are some situations in life to which there is a simple, single clear solution (need groceries? Go to the store), winning a war against Islamic extremism, or finding new energy supplies to free us from foreign suppliers (related to the first problem) aren’t two of them, despite the simple-mindedness of the chants.

When war opponents declare that there is no military solution, they are attempting to imply that those with whom they politically differ believe that there is not only a military solution, but that it is the sole component of the solution, and that no other solutions (e.g., diplomacy, reform of a corrupt government, etc.) need apply.

There is an additional false implication that the military will play no part of the solution — that only their solutions are useful. Hence their extremist demands for years that the troops be brought out of Iraq immediately. After all, if there is no military solution, what is the military doing there, and what harm can there be in removing it?

Similarly, when we are told that we can’t drill our way out of our current energy problems, they falsely imply that those who favor expanded domestic exploration believe that this is a panacea, and that no other measures need be taken to solve the energy shortage. But I’m aware of no proponent of looking for more sources at home who believes this.

With whom are they arguing? And even if one grants that such people might exist, the sound bite (I won’t dignify the talking point with the description “argument”) continues to fail to address the arguments of those many more who believe that it is at least part, and an important one, of the solution.

And again, note that drilling is not only not the solution in their minds, but it isn’t even a component of it. After all, even if it were only a part of the solution, how could they rationally oppose it, given the current straits of the energy market and their toll on the American consumer (and voter)? And yet they do.

Winning the war in Iraq required (note my tense) a range of tactics and strategies, some military, some diplomatic, some intelligence related, some involving aid and infrastructure. General Petraeus himself recognized that there was no solely military solution, which is why the misnamed surge was more than simply pouring in more boots on the Mesopotamian ground. It involved a major shift in tactics, including the building of new alliances among the Iraqis, providing them with the protection and confidence they needed to rid themselves of the nihilists who had been terrorizing them. To think that the general’s plan and actions had no effect on the outcome (as Senator Obama and other Democrats seem to be attempting to rewrite recent history to indicate) requires, in Senator Clinton’s words in another context, a “suspension of disbelief.”

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