Bad Argument

It’s everywhere among the political class.

On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Liz Cheney, Dick’s daughter, and Steve Schmidt, late of John McCain’s campaign, joined Clinton stalwart James Carville and The Nation‘s Katrina Vanden Heuvel for a round table with venerable conservative George Will.

On the matter of potential removal of some foreign prisoners from Guantanamo to American prisons – about which Republicans have attempted to create such hysteria – Will, as heliz-cheney will be, was unideologically reasonable: some of the Guantanamo detainees may have killed Americans, but so have the Americans in American maximum security prisons killed Americans, and the prisons hold them just fine.

A nice rational point.

To which Cheney responds irrelevantly, by citing (and again appealing to emotion) the likelihood of groundless fear: she doesn’t think the residents of Colorado (for instance) would be happy at the prospect.

Yes – but to Will’s point? Nothing.

Schmidt argued, for his part, that there should be no torture investigations because the people who might be investigated were “sincere” in their efforts to protect the country.

To which one has to wish someone had responded, Pinochet was sincere in his patriotism to save Chile from the “threat” of communism. I think Franco was sincere, and Lenin and Trotsky and dare I say – no, I won’t.

Murderers sincerely want their victims dead.

Sincerity – as I discuss more fully here – has nothing to do with it.

People either tortured or they did not. They either broke U.S. and international law or they did not.

This is the level of argumentation of people who seek and enjoy a role in influencing U.S. public policy.

It’s sad.

I mean it.



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