Wednesday, February 28, 2007
A fair amount of the stuff liberals say is just so silly it that a 15 year old ought to be able to demolish it beyond recognition. And yet, time after time, when served up such a softball, conservatives just get tongue-tied or go off on some silly tangent and not only miss the chance to totally destroy the argument and the credibility of the liberal, by not repudiating the liberal's arguments, the public comes away thinking that there must be something to what the liberal has said... after all, if it was defective, why wouldn't the conservative have totally smashed it to pieces.
An example of this took place yesterday on The View, where resident ditz Joy Behar went after Mitt Romney for announcing his presidency in front of the Ford Building in Detroit. Her reason? Ford was an admirer of Hitler and vice versa, and thus, Romney was an anti-Semite, or a Hitler admirer, or stupid for having chosen that building as a backdrop for his speech.
And Elizabeth Hasselbeck, supposedly the conservative one of the group, couldn't or wouldn't do squat with that. Here was a chance to demonstrate that Behar is someone who ought not to be listened to on anything of importance and Hasselbeck couldn't do anything with it. Rather than smacking Behar into the next studio, she got off on some irrelevant line about whether Hitler liked Ford or that Ford liked Hitler. Instead of making Behar look bad, by not smacking Behar, she made Behar's rant look more legitimate.
Where did she screw up? By accepting the premise of Behar's attack, that Romney speaking in front of the Ford Building had anything to do with Henry Ford and Hitler. By doing so, she fell into the trap so well described in the joke that has the punch line "we have established what you are, now we're just talking price". Once you accept the premise of an opponent's argument, you've ceded them the high ground.. and the best, the absolute best you can do is to hope to mitigate the damage.
What should she have done? She should have gone after the core of Behar's argument, that associating with Ford is demonstrating solidarity with anti-Semitism.
For example, "Joy, if it wasn't right for Romney to be there, what about the tens of thousands of American workers who work for Ford? Are they also demonstrating their love of Hitler? What about the millions of Americans who buy and drive Ford automobiles? Are they Hitler sympathizers? What about those who are fans of the Detroit Lions, a team owned by the Ford family? Are they too anti-Semitic?"
And she could/should have followed that up with: "and Joy, why presume that Romney spoke where he did because of some affinity for Henry Ford? Did Romney tell you he was there to pay homage to Henry Ford? When I think of (making quote signs with her hands) 'Ford', I don't think of Henry Ford. I think of the car company. I think of the people who go to work there, earn a paycheck to bring home to their family. I think of the people who save their money to buy a Ford to drive to work, to drive their kids to soccer practice, to drive on vacation to see America. That's what I saw when I saw Romney speaking in front of the Ford Building... and I'm a bit shocked and dismayed that you have such a twisted view of Republicans that you see what just isn't there."
That's what she should have said.
Now I realize that the liberals (Barbara Walters) picked Hasselbeck precisely because she's a conservative who can't defend conservatives... that a quick-on-her-feet conservative would never get such a spot... and Hasselbeck would be just another nobody (perhaps sitting at home in her pajamas typing some seldom read blog) if she more aggressively went after the liberal drool that passes for serious thought on that show. But to paraphrase (I believe) Kruschev, if conservatives are going to play along with liberals in order to get air time, then we deserve to get hung with the rope we've sold them.