Notes From Babel

Obama Getting More Irksome

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Several things about his speech really bother me. The constant partisan posturing and “I won, thus I’m right” is not only irksome, it is dangerously and demonstrably fallacious. Democracy is not a test of veracity. It is mere exercise of will. Obama outs himself as something of a descriptive epistemologist when he says things like “They did not vote for the false theories of the past.” Does a popular vote make something true or false? Of course not. It is merely an expression of opinion writ large.

Even if the people voted for some amorphic “change,” that does not mean that we simply proceed by asking what the previous administration would have done, and do exactly the opposite. And yet that is just what Mr. Obama suggests when he says “We cant embrace the losing formula that offers more tax cuts….” Certainly the president cannot be suggesting that he was elected because the people were sick of tax cuts. Nor will Bush go down in history as a stalwart fiscal conservative; if Obama is hell-bent on being contrarian, he would do better to adopt a more, not less, sober economic policy.

And what about this metaphor: “I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV — if you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.” That conclusion doesn’t follow. What about just stopping the sodding car? That is the solution that true conservatives call for. Instead of addressing it, our new president does not even articulate it as an available alternative. Rendering an argument non-existent is, I suppose, an easy way to overcome it.

Now that Obama’s words are going to lead to actions that affect all of us, we ought to be less willing to applaud his hopelessly confused and fallacious rhetoric.


Written by Tim Kowal

February 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Politics

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