Here’s an argument for you

Bruce Fein offers this argument in . . . or outside the law? (Washington Times Commentary 05dc28)

Volumes of war powers nonsense have been assembled to defend Mr. Bush’s defiance of the legislative branch and claim of wartime omnipotence so long as terrorism persists, i.e., in perpetuity.

That in itself should be enough for any reasoned reader to dismiss his contribution. He has labeled anyone who disagrees with him as spouting nonsense. In the same breath, he has gone to the binary argument with assertions of “omnipotence.” He has also slipped in a questionable assumption as axiom in the “perpetuity” slam. With such a point of view, there is no room for reason and the issue at hand isn’t one that is anywhere near that cut and dried. But Fein doesn’t even allow for any consideration that it isn’t cut and dried, either.

Other examples of this form of debate:

“other than an unelaborated assertion he is not a dictator”

“President Bush preposterously argues”

“Congress should insist the president cease the spying unless or until a proper statute is enacted or face possible impeachment. The Constitution’s separation of powers is too important to be discarded in the name of expediency. ”

The concluding opinion about separation of powers is one of the central issues in the debate. It warrants a serious debate about the proper balance in various conditions and circumstances. Such a debate is not furthered when it is put on the table with assertions such as Fein makes that completely dismiss any point of view competing with his considerations.

The contrast to this is Michael Barone’s Within …. He offers such “nonsense” as

Indeed, it would be a very weird interpretation of the Constitution to say the commander in chief could order U.S. forces to kill America’s enemies but not to wiretap — or, more likely these days, electronically intercept — their communications. Presidents have asserted and exercised this power repeatedly and consistently over the last quarter-century.

and otherwise provides points that illustrate his view rather than labeling his opposition. He provides examples that one can disagree with and can refute by offering counter example or rationale. This means that Barone offers a means to clarify and expand understanding of issues while Fein closes and hides issues.

What you can learn from this is that you can’t learn much from someone whose viewpoint is established by simple ad hominem labels, dismissal of issues at hand, innapropriate use of binary logic and standards and other such dishonest forms of debate and discussion. How people present their views can often be used as a basis to qualify the quality of those views.

Comments are closed.