More Straw Man Arguments From The Right


The last few days have been incredible to listen to conservative radio and Fox News. You’d think President Barack Obama has morphed into the anti-Christ. You’ve got Glenn Beck crying and hysterical conservatives calling in suggesting, seriously, that Obama is about to enslave all of us.

The various shows are all up-in-arms over just about everything under the sun that Obama has been doing down to complaining about his use of tell-a-prompters. It seems obvious to me that the Right has returned squarely to the ingenious Karl Rove tactics of the past. This is the tactic that states that you take the targets most revered positives and turn them on their face. In the best example of it Rove, earlier in his career, took down a judicial candidate with a long history of protecting abused children by questioning his motivations. He suggested that he was just a bit too close to these children and might, himself, be a pedophile.

For Obama that equates to his charismatic and eloquent speaking. Take this strength and ridicule it by pointing out how often he uses a tell-a-prompter. It doesn’t matter that his previous boss, George W. Bush, would have been well served by using one far more often himself. Keep suggesting that Bush was able to speak without the need for one, while ignoring that the results of those excursions were often disastrous, or hilarious (“Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.“)

Now the big item making the rounds is to take the thing Americans like most about this President — namely his willingness to tackle the big problems head on — and turn that into the tired old mantra of us going down a path to socialism. Sean Hannity‘s show the past couple of days has been filled with much rhetoric about this. Evil Obama wants to tell corporations how much to pay their people, how big their bonuses can (or can’t) be, how to run their business, etc.

Forget that his answer — unrestrained “capitalism” — got us into this mess in the first place. No, none of that matters when you can mention the specter of socialism to a conservative audience. We’ve had these sorts of controls in place for years already in the banking industry with the FDIC and it’s something Americans have come to rely on and trust. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is simply suggesting that we create the same sort of organization for critical non-banking firms. To help make his case Hannity had on the always entertaining Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. This woman will say anything to try to sound intelligent on a subject while generally leaving her with egg on her face. Yesterday she tried to quote President Ronald Reagan and blew that. She also took an inclusive comment from Geithner and turned it into a side-show suggesting that Geithner plans to take us into a global currency. All he did was suggest that it’s worth considering.

Anyway, the battle now is to ignore virtually everything that’s actually happening and just keep invoking the conservative fear word of socialism. If it’s socialism it can’t possibly be good. These people always ignore the post office, libraries, the reliability of Social Security and Medicare, non-volunteer firemen, police, sanitation workers, etc. Have people forgotten that the FDIC’s creation came out of the hubris of Wall Street that gave us the Great Depression? The reality is that there must be a balance between government and corporate America. Either without the other is a recipe for disaster.

By the way, was I the only one to notice that the health insurance industry put forth a plan to cover absolutely everyone in the country at a lower rate and to drop pre-existing conditions? Let’s see how this proposal morphs into socialized medicine when explained by the Right.

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