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If you have to wrench your opponent’s argument grievously out of context, it proves that you have nothing constructive to say in the debate. We may call this the “Breitbart rule,” but there is now room for the “Zuckerman corollary.”

The execrable Mort Zuckerman accused President Obama of random business-bashing, quoting the president thusly:

The predilection to blame business was manifest in one of President Barack Obama’s recent speeches. He was supposed to be seeking the support of the business community for a doubling of exports over the next five years. Instead he lashed out at “unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restriction on activities that might harm the environment, take advantage of middle-class families, or, as we’ve seen, threaten to bring down the entire financial system.”

This is practically the opposite of what Obama actually said, which was:

Too much regulation or too much spending can stifle innovation, can hamper confidence and growth, and hurt business and families. A government that does too little can be just as irresponsible as a government that does too much — because, for example, in the absence of sound oversight, responsible businesses are forced to compete against unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restrictions on activities that might harm the environment, or take advantage of middle-class families, or threaten to bring down the entire financial system. That’s bad for everybody.

This is a huge problem progressives have in messaging. Someone (like the president) makes a nuanced, middle-of-the-road argument that government should neither do too little nor too much. Then, somebody takes one side of the argument — often the “straw person” part of the argument someone is setting up only to knock down later, as with the Shirley Sherrod debacle — and distorts the intended meaning beyond recognition.

Maybe we’d all be better off if Mort Zuckerman would help write our speeches.

There are literary critics, and there are literary critics. They don’t make ‘em like Mark Twain any more. Here’s his legendary takedown of James Fenimore Cooper and, by way of collateral damage, several “critics” of the day.

I’m not usually one to post Tweets, but this is pretty poignant given current and historical war-related events.

I already wanted to visit Iceland. After watching this goal scoring celebration from a soccer league there, I’m tempted to book a ticket tomorrow.

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2 Comments

  1. James

    July 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Great video!

  2. Admin

    July 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    If only we could bring back old Sam Clemens to review the latest Locke and Civitas fiction.