Monday, August 16, 2004

August 16, 2004 - Deny, Deflect, De-emphasize

Today's Commentary: August 16th, 2004

Hello thinkers!

My family and I are now back on terra firma after our vacation. As relaxing as it was, I could not resist being a civics geek at least once while at sea, and did I create a monster. There were seven of us in our group and at our first dinner I informally toasted them all. Once the drinkers among us had our poison and the rest had their water I raised my glass and said "Cheers everyone. I cannot think of six people I would rather be on this trip with." There was a brief pause while the crystal went 'clink' and the women in cocktail dresses said "aww". I then completed my sentence, "...Even if some of you are voting for Kerry this November."

After the chuckles subsided, I sat back. What I witnessed next reminded me of the scene from "Stand by Me" where Lard-Ass forced the entire crowd viewing the pie eating contest into a massive domino effect of reflex puking. The only subtle difference was that, instead of semi-digested stomach contents, political viewpoints were being violently hurled across the table. Like I said, a subtle difference. The heated debate continued for over an hour and the majority of the dinner. Believe it or not, I said very little for reasons I will soon describe. I sat back with my merlot and prime rib and enjoyed the show.

It was truly remarkable. Keeping in the spirit of 'what happens on the cruise stays on the cruise', I shall not get into specifics. However, I will say that I have a whole new respect for my wife - the registered Democrat (!) who deftly fielded one verbal assault after another justifying her reasons for voting Bush/Cheney in November. Now this reverence is not due to the fact that her vote will coincide with mine, but it is because she refused to drink the 57 varieties of Kool-Aid. Going against the party which prevailed in the home of your youth and in your perspective (even if you are only now loosely affiliated with it) because of principle takes guts, and my wife has got 'em.

As I was enjoying my ringside seat to the carnage, I could not help but think about some distinct defensive patterns that I've noticed over the years when it comes to arguing with the left. I have seen some unmistakable consistency once you get the left on the ropes and they cannot reach around to give you a rabbit punch. These occur whether you are debating foreign policy, the war on terror, or tax cuts for the vampires who make decent incomes during the day and roam the night drinking the blood of inner city minority children.

Sometimes though, you need to draw your opponent out and begin the attack before these patterns manifest themselves. Different tactics work for different people, but the one that works best for me is what I call the 'Russian Winter'. The name comes from the Russian military tactic of letting the adversary enter their soil with only token resistance. Once the enemy supply lines are stretched thin, the brutal Russian winter tenderizes the invaders before the counter-attack. I emulate this tactic by innocently asking open ended questions of my friends on the left like, "Why do you think George Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein?" Or "Do you believe Bush really lied about Iraqi WMD?" Often at this point, the liberal mice cannot help themselves, and go for the cheese.

Once they have exposed themselves you can nail them with the usual tactics, ie. "Are you equating Bush's tax cuts with Saddam's rape rooms?" or you can use a Lewinski-era quote from John Kerry, Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy on how Iraq definitely had WMD and we needed to take Saddam Hussein out. Now that the trigger is pulled and the tensioned spring is released, the mouse-in-question will likely notice the thick wire just before it snaps his or her neck. This is when the aforementioned defensive patterns sprout from the left.

They are, in no particular order, Deny, Deflect and De-emphasize.

First, deny. Most frequently, these are outright lies. Despite being presented with hard facts, the left will simply deny reality and continue stating their mantra. Although the 9/11 commission's final report claims that President Bush did not lie about Iraq's WMD claims, nor did his administration pressure our intelligence agencies, expect to hear the chant "Bush lied - babies died" outside the RNC convention later this month. Even though France, Germany and just about all of the administrations detractors in Congress are on record making many of the same claims about Iraq, somehow Bush knew more and took us to war knowingly on false pretenses. Of course in the next breath, the 'denyers' will also refer to Bush as a bumbling idiot.

Second, deflect. Another favorite defense when the left is caught being bad is to attack the attacker. For example, anyone who attacks the recently resigned Governor James McGreevey of NJ over his horrible judgment is instantly labeled a homophobe. What's that? You think Jesse Jackson is a shakedown artist? You racist! And who can forget the vast right wing conspiracy? Between now and November, any question of John Kerry's assertions from the campaign trail are merely vitriol from the mean-spirited Republican attack machine. A Vietnam vet who stood up on the DNC stage with Kerry? He's a hero. A Vietnam vet who calls Kerry unfit to be C-I-C? He's a stooge of the RNC.

To be fair, the left does not have a monopoly on 'deflect'. Recently, some Democrat politicians are scrambling to avoid the tag "liberal" like grade school kids squirming to survive in a game of dodgeball. Even some liberals not running for office are opting for the term 'independent' as a new moniker. A few questions about their viewpoints will indicate they are clearly liberal despite their claims otherwise - see "Deny".

Lastly there is de-emphasize. When outright lies are too lowbrow and attacking the attacker has become tiresome, there is basking in the warm fuzzy rationalization of being right, just because you are a liberal and your heart is in the right place - so it's OK. In a recent appearance on "Meet the Press", Sen. Robert 'Sheets' Byrd was interviewed about his book in which he claimed that Bush lied about WMD in Iraq. Furthermore, Byrd's book states that all the senators who voted (77-23) to authorize the president to attack Iraq were "weak". Tim Russert then asked Sen. Byrd if Kerry and Edwards, who voted for this authorization, were also weak. "No", Byrd replied, "they were misled." Another sweeeeet example of de-emphasize was an interview with Robert Kennedy on the Fox News show, Hannity and Colmes. Robert Kennedy was preaching the evils of SUV's and lecturing us on how we should all be taking the bus. At one point Kennedy was asked how often he had flown in a private jet. Red-faced, he replied that he did not see how that had any bearing in the matter. More examples of this hypocrisy: anti-gun US Sen. Dianne Feinstein who holds a rare California concealed weapon permit, because she needs one and you don't. Or the media grilling that Sen. Trent Lott took for praising former segregationist Strom Thurmond and the dearth of similar abuse for CT Sen. Chris Dodd after he praised former KKK member, Robert Byrd, calling him a "great leader".

Once one or more of these defensive patterns are engaged, you may as well stop arguing the current topic. You have reached the furthest possible point in your debate. However, I never expect to change a person's 'well thought out' ideology. Nor would I want to. All I ever hope to do is to put what I consider to be a 'not well thought out' position under the scrutiny of open discourse. Many times the thoughtful person will concede that their "facts" are merely their opinion. It is these debates I enjoy the most, in no small part because it helps me hone my own arguments. As for the lemmings who hold fast to their "facts"? The cliff is coming.

But while like me, you may enjoy engaging the left, be careful. They may call you Lard-Ass.


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