Punchinello’s Chronicles

March 8, 2009

Criticizing Obama

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 6:42 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

More and more, lately, I’m hearing a bizarre application of the concept of criticism. A conservative calls a radio show and argues that no, Mr. Obama is NOT his or her president, and should fail. The rebuttal is that the economy failed back toward the end of the George Bush administration, and Obama is trying to fix it.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The problem is in the nature of argument. It’s in the nature of point, counterpoint, argument and rebuttal. The problem lies in the principles of logic separating specifics from generalities. It’s a problem having to do with arguing down from general to specific, or up from specific to general.

In other words, people seem to have lost the capacity to argue anymore. Arguing isn’t yelling and screaming, pulling out a .38 revolver and shooting someone in the head!

An argument presents a thought; a proposition. That proposition is based on some sort of reasoning. Hopefully, the reasoning is valid and in accordance with reality. If not, then it’s based on whatever someone feels to be true. The argument begins with and includes that first statement.

Following the statement, the counter-argument examines the validity of the original statement. Is it true? How do we know it’s true? Were facts used? Are those facts legitimate?

Nowadays, we seem to be having problems with the foundations of argument itself! People say that there aren’t any such things as facts. What one person calls a fact, another calls a personal opinion. Nor is there any objective truth, reality, or even logic.

If we can’t even come up with a principle of logic, then there can’t be any arguments about anything. And that’s exactly where we’ve arrived.

If Mr. Obama or any other president, leader or CEO contradicts a fundamental principle, how do we know? If nobody believes that principles exist or that principles are permanent, then why shouldn’t someone contradict them? They don’t exist in the first place, so there’s no contradiction.

The conservative argument against Obama’s economic policies rests on the principles of economics, capitalism, and individual ownership. The liberal argument in favor of Obama’s policies rest on a different view of economics, government management and limited ownership.

The same disagreements apply to George Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or any other president. When each president made proposals toward conservative thought, liberals argued. And vice versa, liberal proposals met with conservative argument.

But today, people want to say that previous actions caused everything we face currently. Therefore, the previous president is completely to blame for today’s conditions. Ergo, each president “reacts” to events, never causing anything, never initiating anything.

Then when the counter-argument tries to argue about reaction and causation, the whole discussion shifts into unrelated points about specific actions and events.

It seems we’re left with either screaming and shouting, shooting people in the head, or simply shutting down the entire concept of argument and criticism entirely.

Wow, isn’t THAT a terrific way to get things done! Good thing we stopped teaching rhetoric and debate to our kids in school, right? Otherwise, people would have a rational way to settle their differences and we sure wouldn’t want that, would we!


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