From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.
Later there was an exchange between Greg Guttfeld and Andy Levy (the show's libertarian) that went pretty much like this:
Andy: You know who I really feel sorry for in all this?
Andy: The straw men.
Yes, he really is beating the crap out of them, isn't he? Also the dead horses.
Obama has a curious fondness for fallacious arguments, and straw man is definitely one of his favorites. Others include false dichotomy and argumentum ad hominem. (For examples go here, here, and here. For a comment on why false dichotomy is a fallacy, see this.)
He seems to be unique among presidents in this way. When Bush said he had intelligence reports that showed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, it was not a fallacy but a lie. Indeed, the lie, as everyone knows, is the characteristic rhetorical sin of politicians. A lie and a fallacy are quite different things. One is a characteristic of statements (its author know it is false) and the other is a characteristic of arguments (your statement fails to logically support the point you are making).
I can't remember a single fallacious argument from another president. I remember objecting to many things they said, but not on the grounds that they tried to convince me with a lurching non sequitur. Is this just a failure of memory on my part? It's odd. ...
Actually, I just thought of an explanation. I was just reading the joint session speech in which John Kennedy called for Congress to commit itself to "the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." (May 25, 1961.) The argument he presents for it is a passage of some 282 words in which he claims that a moon program will contribute to achieving four national goals, such as accelerating the development of satellites for communications and for weather observations. As with any argument, it is open to objections, but they would be based on facts and ethical or political principles, not on whether the premises constitute rational evidence for the conclusion. They do.
Turning from the Kennedy speech to the Obama one is like going from the words of a real president to those of a high school debater:
But it just struck me that there is a big difference between these arguments, aside from their logic: Kennedy is talking about things and Obama is talking about people. More exactly, he is directly attacking his ideological opponents. Straw man, ad hominem, and false dichotomy, at least the way BHO uses then, are all ways of unfairly attacking people. Obama's problem is not with logic, but with debating fairly and rationally with people who fundamentally disagree with him. He's not our first logically illiterate president. He's our first Saul Alinsky president.
You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting. These nations aren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.Well I do not accept second-place for the United States of America!