It has not ceased to amaze me that “winners” are declared for each of these debates. Having never participated in debate, i don’t understand exactly how these winners are chosen based on a point system or whatever, but being a person of slightly above average intelligence, and a person with an obsessive curiosity and fondness for detail, the declared ‘winner’ of these debates has surprised me each time.
For one thing, Obama breaks a lot of the ‘rules’ of persuasive speaking, by employing logical fallacies: Bandwagoning (“everyone knows that …”), Either-Or Fallacy (“if you don’t ___, then ___ will certainly happen”), a lot of ‘Red-Herring’ (in the last debate he “addressed” the question of his inexperience by saying “i understand …” and then immediately switched to a speech about his VP, Biden), his speeches addressing environmental concerns are “slippery-slope” fallacies, claiming a chain of events that he can’t prove will happen (and are unlikely to happen in the way he claims), he employs ‘hasty generalization’ in assuming that McCain will follow strictly along party lines (evidence – his voting record – indicates the contrary), and last, but certainly the biggest logical fallacy Obama is keen to use (especially in the recent debate) is what is called the “ad hominem argument”, which is an argument that attacks a person instead of the issue at hand in an attempt to incite the audience’s dislike for that person.
it is this last point that i would like to elaborate on.
I spent the morning reading the transcript of last night’s debate, and though Obama seems to have swayed his audience in manipulating their hatred or helping them get an adrenaline rush, the words … the transcript itself … paints a much different picture of the speakers. Obama’s responses are formulaic: In between frequent complaining about the process his campaign had agreed to in the speech, or deflecting correction from the mediator when he went well over his allotted time, Obama provided answers that followed the following formula:
1) greeting or flattery
2) bandwagoning (“everyone knows that …”)
3) addressing the words in a question, without addressing the substance
4) ad hominem (“BUSH and McCain”, “Bush and the Republicans”)
5) an unsubstantiated claim, punctuated by an empty motivational phrase, using the word “We” (which linguists have determined is used more frequently than ‘i’ when a speaker is not confident in what they are saying, or are aware they are lying)
6) some ‘slippery slope’, usually mixed with more ad hominem, to make it sound like his “answer” is the increased destruction of the universe at the hands of the evil villain
for example, his opening statement:
Well, Alan, thank you very much for the question. I want to first, obviously, thank Belmont University, Tom, thank you, and to all of you who are participating tonight and those of you who sent e-mail questions in. [#1 greeting/flattery]
I think everybody knows now we are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. And a lot of you I think are worried about your jobs, your pensions, your retirement accounts, your ability to send your child or your grandchild to college. [#2 Bandwagoning: ‘everyone knows that’, followed by exaggeration to incite fear ‘the worst financial crisis since the great depression’ – why not “the worst ever” or “not as bad as the great depression”? either of those would have been stronger statements]
And I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us.
[ thank you, Obama, for this perfect example of AD HOMINEM. What failed economic policies/ can’t you name them or provide examples? OF COURSE YOU CAN’T, because they were policies set in place by FDR, then Carter, then Clinton – all Democrats, all of your particular breed of political party! Obama slips up a little when he clues us in, using the word ‘essentially’ – translated it means ‘i’m going to make something up that vaguely resembles the truth’ – and then he goes on to accuse them of letting the market ‘run wild’ and believing that would cause “prosperity to rain down on all of us”. If you research some of the causes of the economic collapse, you will see that the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act was a law designed to encourage banks and savings associations to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of communities, including low and moderate income housing neighborhoods. It was created by democrats to supposedly eliminate ‘discriminatory credit practices’ (i.e., “if you can’t afford it, we’re not going to let you buy it” was ‘discriminating’ against the poor!). It was signed into law by Dem. president Jimmy Carter. Because of the CRA, banks entered into unsound loans … being ‘forced’ to lend to creditors who they knew were unlikely to be able to repay their debts. Under Clinton, the CRA expanded to pressure lenders like Fannie Mae:
“In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.”
“Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.
‘Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,’ said Franklin D. Raines [note: current Obama advisor!], Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ‘Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.’ ”
“In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.”
– The New York Times, 30 September 1999
The S&L stuff from the 1980’s? wasn’t this Reagan’s fault? Reaganomics? Reaganomics? Uh … no. It was fallout from the Carter administration’s socialist CRA …
So … Obama is not being wise making these accusations that it is the ‘Bush administration’s” fault … because well-documented historty easily sheds light on what’s going on … it started as a socialist law made by leftist politicians to ‘make everything fair’, and then it was bailed out by a republican … and then the new leftist leader expanded and ‘pressured’ specific government-funded “big corporations” to bow down and bend over, allowing more bad socialist ‘evening’ of the housing field – and Obama’s own adviser was part of the scam! – so I don’t understand where he’d getting off blaming the ‘Bush administration’. Oh wait! yeah, i do … he’s using the ad hominem argument!
It hasn’t worked out that way. And so now we’ve got to take some decisive action.
[This ‘decisive action’ he outlines confused me … he starts off praising the joint-party bailout:]
Now, step one was a rescue package that was passed last week. We’ve got to make sure that works properly. And that means strong oversight, making sure that investors, taxpayers are getting their money back and treated as investors.
[Taxpayers will never get their money back, from everything i heard this has nothing to do with taxpayers. Also, the people who are suffering – those who got the subprime mortgages- are mostly those who didn’t have to pay taxes, or much taxes, because of their economic status]
It means that we are cracking down on CEOs and making sure that they’re not getting bonuses or golden parachutes [a magical phrase, much like “Big Oil” or “Pork-Barrel Spending”] as a consequence of this package. [here’s where he now decides the bailouts weren’t magical solutions that he, as a person who voted for them, could be proud of] And, in fact, we just found out that AIG, a company that got a bailout, just a week after they got help went on a $400,000 junket.
And I’ll tell you what, the Treasury should demand that money back and those executives should be fired. [i agree they should be fired, but the government does not choose who can be fired and can’t be fired in private businesses. Furthermore, the government shouldn’t be bailing them out in the first place!] But that’s only step one. The middle-class need a rescue package. And that means tax cuts for the middle-class.
[anyone notice the ‘middle class’ is more important than the poor? Is that because Obama pretends to be ‘middle class’ (instead of ‘upper class, the millionaire he is), or because he doesn’t think the ‘poor’ are going to vote for him? or maybe he thinks he;’s already secured their vote because of his party affiliation, or because he admits to illegal drug use, or … i’m not gonna say it, but if he is furthering the racial stereotype that widens the divide, he is a sick man!]
It means help for homeowners so that they can stay in their homes. [home “owners” aren’t at risk. people who can’t afford to make payments, but signed contracts to anyway, under socialist government plans ARE at risk.] It means that we are helping state and local governments set up road projects and bridge projects that keep people in their jobs.
[how is building bridges helping me ‘keep my job’? i’m not in construction! most of Obama’s view of the ‘middle class’ are not in construction, and those people who ARE in the business hang drywall, lay carpet, or do roofing … how are new bridges helping them? I’m honestly not sure if he is trying to tie himself to FDR and the ‘New Deal’ (and just forgot the names), or if he is defending Biden’s $$$million bridge in the grand and glorious state of Delaware. Heck, maybe he’s trying to tell us his reason for forcing Palin’s “bridge to nowhere” to continue construction, long after she rallied against it? Was he really rallying for Alaskan jobs? how kind of you, Mr. Obama!]
And then long-term we’ve got to fix our health care system, we’ve got to fix our energy system that is putting such an enormous burden on families. [ because the ‘energy system’ not only burdens families (i’m lugging 3 sacks of coal as i type, and my wife is on the roof blowing as hard as she can to get that windmill going), it is closely tied to our health care system. ??? huh ??? I’m supposing this particular Model of the Democrat 2008 is programmed to bring up key phrases like “Big Oil”, “Health Care System”, “Middle Class”, “Bush”, and “Environment” at random. Lucky It didn’t select “Bush” instead of “Energy System”!] You need somebody working for you and you’ve got to have somebody in Washington who is thinking about the middle class and not just those who can afford to hire lobbyists.
[hearing a Democrat whine about “those who can afford to hire lobbyists” is like hearing a cab driver complain that people are too lazy to walk anywhere. The democrats have the largest number of lobbyists, and the highest funded lobbyists of ANY party. Please view my prior post on George Soros, Moveon.org, and DemocracyNow. After reading that, you are going to bring up something about “Big Oil”, but before you do – just so you’ll be prepared with facts – i’d like you to remember that “Big Oil” also contributes to democrats (including Obama), and … wait … never mind. I forgot … Soros, MoveOn and the others own the democrats, so my point is kinda worthless.
Obama’s point is kinda retarded too … who exactly in ‘washington’ is he talking about that pays lobbyists? From working with the NRA, i know they are funded by their own members, and i don’t know of any lobbyists ever ‘funded’ by a politician (though quite a few have been accused of, or directly linked to hiring a politician). I am left supposing, then, that this final statement by Comrade Obama is just a thin collection of words designed to raise cheers in the hearts of the masses, and further his pretended stance as champion to the halfway-wealthy.]
This is a great example of how illogical and bizarre Obama’s speeches usually are!
it gets better, though … but you’ll have to read the transcript for more. I especially loved the numerous times he tried to break the rules and got slapped on the hand for it. Obama’s continued ‘seriousness’ and rigidity in the debates – not in the words that come out of his mouth, but in his manner – are sure signs of his terror of being ‘found out’ when up against a real politician like McCain (who was relaxed and joking). It should not be misunderstood as a sign of Obama’s readiness for political office, but instead, a sign of his uneasiness of the tasks still to come his way.