Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spinning Straw Into Political Gold

President Obama employs the straw man argument more than any politician I can recall in my lifetime. Years after he leaves office, they’ll still be sweeping up strands in Washington DC from the thousands of straw men he has set up and knocked down during his two terms in the White House.

He engages in this practice so often that it’s actually newsworthy when an Obama address is completely straw free. Even at yesterday’s fifty-year anniversary of the March on Washington-an event that should have been about bringing the country together instead of dividing it based on partisan politics-the President couldn’t resist reaching for his favorite tried and true rhetorical crutch. And it was a whopper:

And who is to blame? We'll quote the President at length: "Entrenched interests—those who benefit from an unjust status quo resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools—that all these things violated sound economic principles.

"We'd be told that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy, a measure of the free market—that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame."

The question that always is asked and never answered when President Obama brings such straw men to the stage is: who? Who told us that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy? That greed was good? (In real life and not a movie.) That those without jobs or health care only had themselves to blame? Who are these caricatures of Gilded Age robber barons whose cruel sentiments the President so effectively and passionately rebuts?

They exist only in the President’s imagination and those of his most fervent followers who usually follow President Obama’s straw man set ups with a roar of approving applause.