The Bush White House Hides behind the Uniform of General Petraeus & Uses the Tactic of “ad hominem”

The Bush White House Hides behind the Uniform of General Petraeus & Uses the Tactic of “ad hominem”

I admire Arianna Huffington’s clarity of expression, use of apt metaphors and her ability to go to the heart of issues. In her latest blog entry she discusses the ad ran about the testimony of General Petraeus regarding Iraq. The ad spells out clearly the concealment of facts and the false representations made at the time of his testimony. As a resultHuffington2, Rudy Giuliani was up in arms for "character assassination on an American general who is putting his life at risk," John Cain said the organization should be "thrown out of the country" and talk show hosts were outraged. As Arianna says "Even Don Rumsfeld popped his head out of his spider hole to blast the ad." She then made the accurate observation:

"It’s the political version of the old lawyer’s axiom: When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, attack the plaintiff. And when the war is an unmitigated disaster, the facts on the ground are against you, and your only plan for the future is ‘more of the same,’ go crazy over a newspaper ad."

Arianna, in her blog, quotes from last Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher when Senator Chuck Hagel was on the program:

"Maher: "Isn’t a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job?"

Hagel: It’s not only a dirty trick, but it’s dishonest, it’s hypocritical, it’s dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is this is not Petraeus’ policy; it’s Bush’s policy. The military is — certainly very clear in the Constitution — is subservient to the elected public officials of this country… but to put our military in a position that this administration has put them in is just wrong, and it’s dangerous."

I think she has it right. This administration has consistently exhibited no moral compass or ethical character. Lies, misrepresentations and manipulation of truth have been it’s manner of conducting government. Hiding behind the uniform of a military leader is totally consistent with previous conduct of the Bush white house.

In logic there is an argument known as an "ad hominem," Latin for "argument to the person" or argument against the man. This is a technique where you reply to an argument by ignoring the issue and simply attacking the person making it in an attempt to discredit the argument. It is a favorite of politicians. Attack ads against candidates and the Bush white house technique of ignoring the facts and simply attacking the speaker are prime examples. When I see this being done I think of the skill of magicians whose ability to use distraction and misdirection while performing secret moves. Criticize Iraq? You are attacking the American flag and brave men and women fighting there. Challenge the claims of an Army general? You are attacking the uniform of a brave soldier etc etc. It’s silly, but it seems to have worked for this white house administration.

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