The Bush "straw man" story

Needed: Brains, courage...

Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher engages in a little journalistic soul-searching over the Associated Press report that George W. Bush commits the straw man fallacy on a regular basis.

Now, I admit that this shouldn't be news to anyone who listens to the president. But the truth is the truth, even if it should already be common knowledge to anyone with an axon and a dendrite to rub together.

Strupp makes it sound as if there's no fact of the matter. He forgets that instances of the straw man fallacy can be uncovered empirically. If you falsely attribute implausible beliefs to your opponent and attack those fictitious positions rather than engaging your opponent, then you are attacking a straw man.

As the author of the AP article points out, the president does this all the time. It's not merely her opinion that the president is attacking a straw man when he says that some people think that the Iraq mission is not worth another dollar or another dime. It is a matter of fact. Even advocates of immediate withdrawal are committed to devoting many more days and dollars to winding up the Iraq mission properly.

Strupp's handwringing is a perfect example of what's wrong with journalism today--paralyzing fear of asserting controversial facts because they might be misconstrued as liberal opinions.

[Editor and Publisher]

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