04 Mar 2004 The Senate Chases Motes
The Straw Man Fallacy: When a person ignores another person’s actual point-of-view and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that point-of-view for the purpose of rebutting a different, usually weaker, argument.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has posted the comments of Senator Patrick Leahy at last month’s Judiciary Committee meeting.
The Senator blasts our organization and those who are working with us, as well as a huge number of conservative activists and others, inaccurately describing what we believe, have said and are calling for in the matter of the Judiciary Committee’s “leaked” computer memos. Then he attacks his false description of us.
A straw man argument at work.
It is something else as well: A diversion for purposes of a cover-up. As long as the topic is about the way the Republican staffers learned what the Democrat Senators were doing, the Democrat Senators don’t have to explain themselves.
Partisanship, however, isn’t the only issue here. Maybe not even the biggest one.
Senators of both parties, when confronted with allegations of potential improprieties and illegalities in their midst, instead are focusing on the selfish issue of keeping their own correspondence private. Correspondence that had been drafted by government employees working on government computers in government offices, which, lacking any national security aspect, really should never have been private at all.
The Senators are saying we taxpayers don’t have a right to expect the investigation of improprieties if the improprieties came to light in a manner that infringes upon their privacy in the workplace.
Never mind that we’re paying them to do that work.
And it is our country they are steering in those memos.
Note the terminology when Patrick Leahy tosses invective at conservative organizations who call for an evenhanded investigation. We’re not just “extreme, partisan, right-wing activists,” but “extreme, partisan, right-wing activists from outside organizations.”
The term “outside” is no coincidence.
They resent us not only because we’re “extreme right,” but because we’re not in the Senate club, and what we are saying is inconvenient.
But I won’t end this essay without addressing Leahy & Co.’s charge that we outside “extremists” don’t care what GOP staffers do, even if it is illegal, as long as the staffers were “on our side.”
Leahy is lying about this, unless he’s too ignorant to know better.
Conservative activists are not calling for authorities to ignore any illegal acts by GOP staffers, in the event there were any. What we are requesting is an appropriate level of attention to equal or perhaps more serious charges against the Democrat Senators and their subordinates.
The charges against the GOP staffers essentially amounts to a charge of reading the mail on someone else’s desk — at least, as far as the public’s been told after months of investigations, a reported half million taxpayer dollars spent and no charges filed. Maybe there’s more. An investigation is underway.
The charges against the Democrat Senators and staffers amount to subverting the Constitution by packing the courts (clearly, it’s still the party of FDR) and allegedly, according to one person who has seen the memos, other serious activities, such as bribery. No investigation of these allegations appears to be forthcoming.
In the Sermon on the Mount, a man who outranks even Senators asked: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
The Senate chases motes.