Monday, November 12, 2007

The Tortured Logic of Matt Yglesias

It was only a matter of time before those that support Hillary tried to prop her up by demeaning Tim Russert. There are probably lots of examples of this however I found this piece by Matt Yglesias. He seems to believe that it wasn't that Russert wasn't asking tough questions, he was, but that he was asking them about the wrong topics. Apparently, illegal immigration is not a topic worthy of tough questions. Yglesias thinks that tough questions should inform as well.

But while I wouldn't want to say that "tough questioning" is a bad thing, making toughness the goal is perverse. The goal should be to inform the audience. Climate change, for example, is a hugely important question. As a result, candidates ought to be subjected to questions about their climate change plans. And as it happens, the plans released by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards are all based on good science and good economics. So asking them questions aimed at elucidating their plans shouldn't lead to any embarrassing incidents. Shouldn't, that is, unless the candidates are unprepared to discuss their own plans in an intelligent manner which really would be worth knowing about.

Now, I think that climate change is a worthy topic and there should be tough questions asked about it along with every topic a politician should deal with. Frankly, I wish some moderateor actually knew something about my business, mortgages, and could undress some of the ridiculous plans being offered. That is not the point. Just because Yglesias thinks that climate change is a more worthy topic doesn't mean it is not. It also doesn't mean that asking questions about illegal immigration isn't worthy or enlightening. I think everyone was enlightened by Hillary's non stance.

There are even more problems with Yglesias' analysis. Just because he clearly agrees with Edwards, Obama et al, doesn't mean they are right and based on good science. This is third grade debate tactics. If they are based on good science, we wouldn't need to merely take his word for it. He says they are based on good science and then says nothing beyond that. I don't know what background Yglesias has, but I doubt it is science. Thus, he is really in no position to say such a thing.
Frankly, what it appears to me is that Yglesias thinks that there should only be tough questions on things he and other people like him think is important. Any other topics beyond that are in his words, "sadistic". If you believe Yglesias, questions about climate change and alternative fuels are informative and worthwhile, while questions about illegal immigration are "sadistic".
The fact is that tough questions on any policy are informative and worthwhile. It is not up to Yglesias to figure out what topic is worthwhile and what topics aren't important.
Furthermore, he leaps and pretends as though he knows how a Republican candidate would or wouldn't handle a question.

John McCain, by contrast, might or might not end up embarrassed by serious questions about his plan, which moves in the right direction but on a schedule that's too slow and in a way that's too inefficient. Serious questions would give him the opportunity to make the case for half-measures and whether or not he winds up embarrassing himself would turn on whether or not he can give a convincing rationale for what he's doing -- which is at it should be. His Republican counterparts, by contrast, would almost certainly wind up embarrassed by serious questions about their views of climate change since their policies are badly at odds with reality.

I have no doubt that Yglesias would perceive McCain as embarrassed by a question regarding climate change, but that doesn't mean everyone will. The problem is that Hillary was nearly universally perceived as stumbling on that question. Thus, there is no defending her. Yglesias is left to attack the messenger and work on tortured logic to excuse what is frankly the definition of a gaffe.
Instead of merely admitting that she screwed up, as all politicians do at some point, he tries to deflect the issue with laughable and ultimately illogical reasoning.

Yes, Mr. Yglesias, it is possible in theory that McCain could fumble a question on climate change. He may even be wrong on the science, however I live here in reality. In reality, McCain did nothing wrong recently. In reality, it was Hillary Clinton that actually fumbled something. All your hypotheticals and tortured theories aren't going to change that. You can pretend as though the question wasn't important because YOU don't think it was, however that won't actually change reality.


vote for hillary online said...

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Anonymous said...

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