Obama's Demagoguery

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Saluting Obama, Our Demagogue In Chief

Kelly O'Connell asks, is the central purpose of communication to persuade an audience, or to tell them the truth?  Of course, a combination of both is the goal of effective and ethical speaking.  But has this question ever sprung to Barack Obama’s mind when rising to pontificate?  Contra, it appears Obama’s entire approach to communication is simply using words to service political goals.

He continually sacrifices honesty to expedience in his "Pragmatic" manner.  In short, Barack is a "sophist," misusing words to create false impressions of reality to fool people into supporting his policies.

Unfortunately, given the mainstream media’s liberal default, we can’t often discover inconsistencies in their favored figures.  So we often don’t know when leftist leaders are lying.  Contra, media bogeymen receive coverage either warped, or wholly falsified.  Consider when Dan Rather offered "proof" President Bush had dodged Vietnam, itself a transparent forgery.  It’s dangerous when the 4th Estate utterly abandons any pretense of unbiased reporting, simply operating like brain addled celebrity hacks; functionally no different than a star-struck high school girl "reporter" doing a feature on the quarterback/homecoming king.

I. TRUTH VERSUS POWER

A. What is a Demagogue?

Demagogues use dishonesty to shape opinions.  Webster defines one as "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power."  But, does it matter if our leaders deceive us?  After all, everyone knows politicians lie -- so why not just adjust expectations?  Actually, political lies are very costly to a democracy, quite easily destroying not just public good will, but the very country itself.  Besides, America’s greatest leaders, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, were famed for honesty.  So, why should we accept any public lies to begin with?!!

B. An Ancient Debate

Humanity’s oldest argument probably ponders which ideas, goals and actions represent the "Good Life."  In America, we’re currently debating whether models of socialist-big-government create a better life than capitalist-small-government-democracy.  In ancient Athens, philosophers frequently debated the Good Life, including those covered in Plato’s Dialogues.  These starred his teacher, Socrates, using questions meant to discover answers to important topics.  According to Alasdair MacIntyre, in "Whose Justice?  Which Rationality?" -- Plato believed the Good Life wasn’t about seeking money or power, but justice, via truthful communication.

C. The Sophists Versus Truth

Sophists were a Greek intellectual school from whom comes the word "sophism."  Webster’s defines this as "subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation."  In several dialogues, Plato writes of Socrates debating truth in speech, in works like Gorgias, the Sophist, and Statesman.  Sophists were traveling debate teachers famed for coaching pupils on unethical and dishonest tricks for winning arguments.

In "Gorgias," Socrates expresses scorn for tricky speeches, saying these are…"a phantom of a branch of statesmanship…a kind of flattery…that is contemptible."  This is because the words are meant only for the speaker’s benefit rather than the good of listeners.  Worse, Plato writes these speeches are… "designed to produce conviction, but not educate people, about matters of right or wrong."  Here, Socrates makes Gorgias (an actual Greek Sophist) admit his "art" (technê) deals with opinion (doxa) instead of knowledge (epistemê); and his goal is persuasion rather than instruction.  Gorgias reveals ambivalence towards "truth," boasting, "Rhetoric is the only area of expertise you need to learn.  You can ignore all the rest and still get the better of the professionals!"

Good stuff, continue reading here . . .

Closing paragraph: The greatest leaders in history, from Christ to Plato and Washington to Reagan, opposed demagoguery.  Is there a reason to accept a third-rate, incompetent, tin-pot despot as a leader if these bad habits block effectiveness?  No.  How can one claim to "lead" a democracy if it presumes a well-informed populace making choices between real options while the leader only offers lies?  Can one imagine a doctor lying to patients so they feel better while dying?  In these days of desperate problems and failed policies, we desperately need politicians who at least tell the truth if we hope to overcome our problems and regain national health.  The first thing, then, is to demand honest leaders, and the rest of good government should follow.

Ten Mental Mistakes Of Obots
Kelly O'Connell says we live in times of rank, unchallenged errors of thought forcefully expressed in print and spoken word. Political movements, in particular, traffic in purposeful verbal trickery.  In fact, some especially depend upon fallacies to drive their message since their essential convictions are defective or even diseased.  Such groups as the Nazis, Fascists and Communists immediately spring to mind here.

Barack Obama peppers his rhetoric with a veritable buffet of verbal trickery.  But why?  If Obots are correct, and Barack is one of history’s great speakers, why must he use cheap rhetorical tricks to win support?  The answer is Obama offers ideas which, on their face, are either counter-intuitive, or false to the average listener.  Speakers do not mislead unless they sense an inability to otherwise persuade their audience.  Therefore Barack needs extra help to persuade.  What other explanation can there be for such incongruent methods?

Obama supporters, aka Obots, have created a human ocean of fallacies to buoy their leader, threatening to engulf the globe in a terrifying flood of logical errors.  The following is a short list of some of the most persistent members of this false-argument tsunami.

A. What is a Fallacy?

A fallacy is generally an error in reasoning.  Fallacies are common, yet fraudulent arguments.  The most popular are mistakes that occur when people don’t think clearly.  The most typically used have given names to aid in their detection.  Certainly, we all tend to use fallacious thinking daily.  But for important topics, such as politics, religion, and law it is imperative we do not employ these flawed logical structures as we will end up with unacceptable results.

B. Top Ten Liberal Fallacies

The following fallacies are employed by Obama, his administration and his rabble of fervent and often intellectually challenged fans.

1. Self-Righteousness

This fallacy claims if someone is "morally pure," or has the "right" motivations, then their actions cannot be questioned.
    

Example:  Obama claims his foreign policy is better received and more effective because it is not "arrogant."  Further, he implies both his economic policies and health care plans will succeed because they are not based upon "greed," but instead on altruism, as the wealthier are forced to share with the less affluent.

Analysis:  Obama repeatedly employs the fallacy of Self-Righteousness (perhaps a logical result of his apparent embrace of a semi-messianic self-identity).  Describing Obama as the furthest thing from pure, former House member Dick Armey summed him up, saying, "You’re intellectually shallow.  You’re a romantic.  You’re self-indulgent.  You have no ability."  He added Obama was "...the most incompetent president perhaps in our lifetime."

    
Read the other 9 here . . .
Mean Streak:  Obama Is Not As Nice As He Looks
The Examiner says Liberal Democrats were often befuddled by President Reagan's "Teflon presidency."

By their lights, Reagan could commit the most heinous acts, but their criticisms were usually shrugged off by the American people, who judged him a "nice guy" who deserved the benefit of the doubt.  Obama has enjoyed something similar during his first 2 1/2 years in office.  Even as public opposition mounted to his policies -- ObamaCare, the failed economic stimulus program, cap and trade, skyrocketing government deficits -- Obama retained a reserve of public good will reflected in consistently strong personal favorability ratings.  People who didn't like his policies generally still saw Obama as a likeable guy, somebody they would enjoy having over for dinner with the family.

But that may be changing.  Recall that Obama invited House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to George Washington University to hear his Wednesday address on the federal government's dire fiscal situation.  The speech was advertised by the White House as a major address in which Obama would join the serious conversation initiated two weeks ago by Ryan in his detailed proposal for cutting spending.  What Obama instead delivered, with Ryan sitting in the front row, was, in the Wall Street Journal's unsparing description, a "poison pen" speech dripping with mean-spirited partisanship, gross misrepresentations of fact, and sophistry of the lowest sort concerning Republicans' alleged desire to hurt old people, the poor and mentally challenged children.  It was the sort of harangue one would expect from a rabidly devoted partisan hack, with no relation whatever to the thoughtful appeals to reason and common values that historically have characterized presidential leadership in this country.

Obama then spent Thursday evening regaling an audience of Democratic donors with what he thought were off-the-record insider jabs about his recent budget negotiations with House Republicans, including this cheap shot at Ryan: "When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure he's just being America's accountant, that he's being responsible, I mean this is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill -- but wasn't paid for.  So it's not on the level."  The reality is that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars under President Bush were regularly funded by Congress, claiming tax cuts must be "paid for" is a hoary piece of Democratic class-warfare demagoguery, and the prescription drug plan Ryan supported cost half as much as the Democratic alternative then on the table.  Such fact-free commentary is to be expected from blind partisans, but not the president of the United States.

Odds are we will see more of this meaner side of the Obama persona in the months ahead because, as columnist and former GOP presidential aide Pete Wehner notes, "now that he finds himself intellectually outmatched by Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and in a precarious situation when it comes to his re-election, Obama is dropping his past civility sermons down the memory hole.  Decency and respect for others has suddenly become passé.  Talking about our disagreements without being disagreeable has been overtaken by events.  Not impugning the character of the opposition is fine as long as it's convenient, but it's to be ignored whenever necessary."  In other words, we're now seeing the real Obama in what promises to be an ugly campaign.
Obama Talks The Talk, But Skips The Walk
Bob Leibowitz says that in his speech last week on the American debt crisis, Barack Obama volunteered that a number of millionaires would be delighted to volunteer to pay more to support the government.

Well, with an income last year of $1.7 million Obama is one of those very "millionaires" of which he speaks.  How many dollars is he willing to contribute to his cause?  Not a one.  Not a dime, not a penny.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama paid a small fortune to accountants to generate 53 pages of tax forms designed to avoid paying his "fair share."  In those 53 pages, Mr. and Mrs. Obama apparently took advantage of every single tax-minimization tool, every exclusion, every loophole available to them.  Deductions?  Yep.  Capital gains treatment?  You bet.  Tax credits?  Lots.

Obama wants the wealthy to pay more.  Fine and dandy.  When's he going to start?  The Obamas paid a lot of taxes on their income last year, $454 thousand to be precise, or about 25% of their income.  But that left them with $1.3 million free and clear.  To parrot Obama, I have trouble believing they "need" all that.  I mean, their rent, medical care and transportation are free, or more accurately, I'm paying the freight.  They get a food allowance of, what, $50 thousand a year?  That'll buy a burger or two, even a nice arugula salad.  Why does he feel he needs to keep so much while he is constantly pointing out the many who need more and getting a free ride to boot?

Granted, the Obamas made a number of generous (and tax deductible) donations last year, but isn't that still pretty selfish of them, making their own decisions on where that money goes?  Why not cut out the private charities and put the money where his mouth is by giving it to Treasury Secretary Geithner and the other 2.75 million federal bureaucrats to spend as they see right and proper?  Isn't that more the American way that Obama thinks made our nation great?  Further granted that spreading an extra couple hundred thousand dollars between nearly 3 million public servants doesn't amount to much, but isn't that the point?  It's going to take ton of money to finance all the "investments" that Obama outlined in his speech and his budget.  Best get started!

To the point, why doesn't Obama make a really tangible offer to lead, something we ordinary people can see and count?  Perhaps he'd pony up at least as much as the maligned Bush tax rates call for while skipping all those horrible "loopholes for the rich?"  Volunteering to step up to the top Bush rate of 35% would cost the Obama's an extra $174 thousand, really not much for a family of their wealth.

Even more impressive would be a true feat of leadership.  I'd like to see Obama name his new, fair rate for the wealthy, and then pay it.
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