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“Dumber Than A 5th Grader”: President Obama’s Bayonet Analogy Is Just Too Complex For Paul Ryan To Understand

Conservatives have made an admirable attempt thus far to turn President Obama’s “horses and bayonets” zinger in their favor. Mostly, they have been doing this by lying.

What Obama said was that the military uses “fewer horses and bayonets” than it used to, because technology changes over time. Obama was making the point that comparing the number of ships our Navy had in 1916 to the number it has now, as Mitt Romney was doing, is a ridiculous way to gauge military strength, since the ships we do have are vastly more powerful than they used to be.

But some conservatives are pretending that Obama actually claimed that the military uses no horses or bayonets anymore. And the military does use them sometimes, so Obama is a moron! Media Matters gathered some of the more prominent examples:

Immediately following the debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace highlighted that a Marine “tweeted Fox News and said the Marines still use bayonets. So it may not be clear who doesn’t understand what the military currently uses.”

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin complained that “Mr. Snarky Commander McSnark” was “lecturing Romney on how we don’t have bayonets anymore.” At Breitbart.com, Joel Pollak also purported to fact-check Obama, writing that “the military still uses bayonets.”

Fox Nation has similarly posted a story headlined “Mr. President, US Special Forces Rode Horses Into Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, a guy who sells bayonets to the military tells TMZ that Obama is “ignorant … because our soldiers still use bayonets.” But again, Obama didn’t say that we never use bayonets or never use horses, so all these arguments and criticisms are directed at a straw man.

But Paul Ryan isn’t embracing the straw-man tactic. Instead, on CBS This Morning, he insisted that the whole bayonet analogy was so confusing, he couldn’t even wrap his famously wonky head around it:

“To compare modern American battleships and Navy with bayonets – I just don’t understand that comparison.”

Is it really that complicated? Let’s break down this analogy SAT-style: Outdated ships are to modern ships as outdated weaponry (such as bayonets) are to ____. Now, Ryan might guess something like “horses” or “the ocean,” but the answer is “modern weaponry.” This is a form of logical reasoning that most Americans master around the age of 17.

 

By: Dan Amira, Daily Intel, October 23, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“An Exercise In False Equivalency”: It’s Not “Swift Boating” If It’s True

Outlining the growing controversy about the timeline of Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital career, CNN’s Jim Acosta recently asked the candidate if he believed he was “being swift-boated in this campaign.” Later that same evening, reporting on Anderson Cooper 360, CNN’s Tom Forman forged a tighter connection, suggesting “Republican analysts fear Mitt Romney could become the second politician from Massachusetts swift boated out of the presidency.”

Here’s how Forman described the Swift Boat affair [emphasis added]:

FORMAN: He’s talking about the Swift Boat campaign, in which President Bush’s challenger John Kerry was demonized over what his campaign considered an attribute. His decorated service as a soldier in Vietnam. The Swift Boat ads, backed by a group of pro-Bush veterans, questioned the Democratic challenger’s conduct in the war, his anti-war activities later and his patriotism.
Kerry was slow to respond and never very effective in refuting their claims even though his critics offered little in the way of proof. He lost the election of course. And for many Democrats, swift-boating became a catch-all term for any unfair, untrue, personal assault on a candidate.

Trying to tie contemporary questions about Romney’s Bain past with an infamous GOP smear campaign is an exercise in false equivalency. “The Swift Boat campaign was completely a lie,” Esquires’ Charles Pierce recently reminded readers. “Nothing the Swifties said about John Kerry was true.” And yet, despite the cavernous gap between the Swift Boat affair and the ongoing Bain story, the comparison continues to gain currency.

The conservative Washington Examiner editorial page on Monday lamented the “Swift-Baining of Mitt Romney.” What had the Obama campaign done that was so unfair to the Republican candidate? It had “seized on reports by liberal websites Mother Jones and Talking Points Memo — and later by the Boston Globe — citing Securities and Exchange Commission filings that listed Romney as the CEO of Bain after he was said to have left for the Olympics.”

Quoting news outlets that cite government documents regarding Romney’s employment record now constitutes a smear campaign?

Let’s stipulate this fact going forward: A candidate having his résumé or biography examined during the course of a presidential campaign does not constitute being “swift boated.” Enthusiastic “vetting” of candidates’ backgrounds is a routine aspect of general elections.

The distinguishing feature of a Swift Boat smear campaign, of course, was that virtually every single war-era allegation made against Kerry’s military service proved to be false, leaving the assumption that the entire point of the coordinated, deep-pocketed attack was to purposefully spread as manly lies as possible. And not just small fibs, but truly unconscionable lies about a serviceman’s record during the unpopular Vietnam War.

That’s what being Swift Boated is about. Prior to 2004, modern campaigns had never seen anything like it. And in the two White House campaigns that have unfolded since, nothing has approached the radical brand of prevarication that epitomized the lowly Republican attacks on Kerry.

By contrast, there’s no dispute regarding the fact that 2002 SEC documents indicate that Romney was listed as Bain’s chairman, managing director and CEO years after he claimed to have left the company. The only debate is regarding what that means. Romney suggests the titles were symbolic and that he had no influence over the management of the company during those three years. Skeptics suggest it’s not likely that a company’s president, managing director and CEO would remain permanently out of the business’ loop for three years (while still drawing a salary).

Either way, the dispute hardly rises to the level of a smear campaign, let alone a Swift Boat-like assault on Romney’s honor. Note that government documents support the claims about Romney’s ongoing links to Bain until 2002, whereas government documents in 2004 routinely undercut right-wing fabrications about Romney’s war record.

Meanwhile, this clumsy Swirt Boat comparison remains in play. From the New York Times:

Conservatives have lit up talk radio programs across the country, worrying whether Mr. Romney’s business record has been ”Swift Boated,” referring to attacks waged against Senator John Kerry’s military record in 2004.

So conservatives fret Romney’s being “Swift Boated,” yet conservatives insist to this day there was nothing unethical about what Swift Boat veterans did to Kerry.

Previously, from Michelle Malkin:

A reminder to conservatives: “Swift-Boating” does not equal smearing. Swift-Boating means exposing hard truths about corrupt Democrats.

From Rush Limbaugh:

[Swift Boat Veterans] were right on the money, and nobody has disproven anything they claimed in any of their ads, statements, written commentaries, or anything of the sort.

In truth, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign represented a singularly awful chapter in American politics. Let’s not pretend every time a candidate has to answer uncomfortable questions about his past that the Swift Boat Vets are riding again.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Sr. Fellow, Media Matters, July 17, 2012

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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