Tu Quoque

Steven Den Beste has yet another lengthy but brilliant piece on the common fallacies of the left which he proceeds to utterly demolish. One of the larger points he makes is one that bears repeating and illustrates the most common fallacy used in political debate today.

That fallacy can be described in two words:Tu quoque.

Tu Quoque is one of those wonderful Latin terms that describes a way of dodging an argument by making an accusation against the person making the argument. One of my guilty and occasional pleasures is watching Hannity and Colmes. Every night they pose a question and the GOP flack blames Bill Clinton and the Democratic flack blames George W. Bush. In the end the question never gets answered by either side.

That’s an example of a tu quoque style of argumentation – and it’s almost completely worthless. It doesn’t serve any purpose, it doesn’t illuminate anything, and it wastes large amounts of time.

The Kerry campaign is tu quoque writ on a national scale. Most of the Kerry argument is that "Bush policies are wrong" no matter what the question. For example, if Kerry is asked a question about his economic plans, 9/10ths of that answer will be an attack against President Bush and perhaps 1/10th of it will be a description of what Kerry would actually do. The pattern has been consistant from Kerry (and the rest of the Democrats) since the beginning of the Bush Administration.

The job of the opposition in politics is not merely to say that something wrong. A critic or a dissenter is not automatically brave, noble, or intelligent. Some of the dumbest people one can meet are the ones who are self-described "non-conformists". Rather than being truly innovative they simply conform to a different lifestyle that’s just as stultifying (and usually more so) than the one they left. (Coincidentally, Steven Den Beste has piece on that very same topic).

The real job of a principles opposition party is to provide realistic alternatives to current policies. On this front, the Kerry campaign is a miserable failure. Kerry has promised to create 10 million jobs, which is something that is beyond the scope of the Executive branch (or government in general). He’s promised to “internationalize” the reconstruction of Iraq despite the fact that it is already as international as it can likely get. (As well as the fact that the UN has already screwed up in regards to Iraq with their pull-out this summer and the Oil-for-Food scandal.) He’s promised to spend trillions of dollars in health care while saying that he’s more fiscally responsible than Bush. He’s promised to support the troops 100% despite a clear policy record that indicates quite the opposite.

So what does one do when they can’t run on policy? Tu quoque.

It didn’t work for Bob Dole in 1996, and I doubt it will work for Kerry in 2004.

4 thoughts on “Tu Quoque

  1. Check out Belmont Club. Wretchard – who would seem to be either a very astute amateur or a graduate of the Army War College (or some equivalent) has fascinating insight on this move.

    To sum up: the area the Marines are turning over is one they took quite some time ago. It’s the backwater of the Fallujah campaign. It makes perfect sense to let the Iraqis get some front-line experience, while using our troops where the *real* battle is going on.

    This is not Doctor Phil. This is straight out of the British Colonial playbook; let the Bengal Lancers secure the rear area while the Scots Greys pound on the Pathans…

  2. Much of what I remember of the Dole campain was how he always started his answer to questions with talking about how Clinton was so bad. The problem was he got carried away talking about that and didn’t have time to talk about how he would make things better. That’s when i started hating it when people dodged questions this way. It’s immature.

    Disclaimer: For 5 years I lived 30 miles away from Russel, KS, aka. “Bob Dole Country”

  3. Ok Jay lets get this straight. You seem really bent up on fallacies which is fine by me because I like talking fallacies. First, you and Mr. Den Beste engage in hasty generalization when put all leftist arguments together. Second, you and the Bush campaign have used Appeal to fear so many times its just freaking amazing. So next time you want to check fallcies try reading your own stuff. Its riddled with them.

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