Saturday, July 30, 2011

Art of Argument

In politics it is imperative that you are honest. However it is commponplace for people to make intellectually dishonest arguments while telling the truth.

Take the Gallup daily tracking of President Obama's job approval.

If you agree with the results when it works well with your perspective, it would be intellectually dishonest to say the poll is bogus when it provides evidence against your viewpoint at another time.

For those bent on saying the debt crisis is taking it's toll, today's results fit in easily: Obama approval drops to 40%. Lowest of all-time.

But just 2 days ago it was 46-46 for the second straight day, back from being mostly negative for a prolonged period. So two days ago, he was at recent high. Two days later all-time low.

How do honest people deal with this? One Fox news contributor said, "tracking polls go up and down" but...

And that's the key. Part of arguing is selecting which true information to highlight, and how. What do you string together?

Republicans have been very creative and aggressive in the past two years in their selectivity and combining of "facts". They have talked about the massive debt on Obama's watch without referencing the Bush years. They talk about job losses without talking about the public sector cuts (which they approve of). They praise Ronald Reagan without talking about how "liberal" he'd be considered in today's world.

At some point, an argument based completely on accurate information ceases to be "spin" and becomes a lie.

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