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    You’ll want to read this exchange from Ask Figaro:

    Hey Figaro.  Bush pulled a very bold piece of rhetorical jujitsu in saying that the comparison of Iraq to Vietnam bolsters his own party’s line.  While I think the comparison is bogus (as our continued presence in Iraq creates more terrorists than it kills), and I doubt that any number of decades of war waged in Vietnam would’ve led to some kind of ‘success’, the speech was interesting and will have historical repercussions.

    I’m very interested to hear your take on Bush’s move and the speech as a whole, and I’m a little disturbed to see that you haven’t written about this maneuver since the speech was made, but you have written about something unrelated. I hope you don’t sit this one out; there are a lot of people who will assimilate this speech into their talking points, and it may even change some minds. As one of the most widely read analysts of rhetoric today, your thoughts on this speech should be heard.

    [signed] The Rude Gesture

    Dear R.G., Boy, now I feel guilty.   Here I’ve been lecturing Mrs. O’Speech about Bush’s marvelous Iraq-Vietnam rhetoric while ignoring those masses of Figarists eager for my widely read analysis.  My only excuse is that I assumed both of them were on vacation.

    I suspect that one of Figaro’s rhetorical heroes, Karl Rove, is behind the Iraq-Nam gambit. It was Rove, after all, who devised the brilliant strategy of running on one’s weaknesses.  If, say, your military record is dubious and your opponent won a medal in Vietnam, then you accuse your opponent of cowardice.  If your policy platform refuses to coddle the weak and the victimized, then you run as a “compassionate conservative.”  (Note to Senator Edwards:  Make fun of Hillary’s haircuts!)

    Now put yourself in Karl Rove’s lame-duck shoes.  Citizens are beginning to call the war a “quagmire.”  So what do you do?  Point out the many obvious differences between the two wars?  No!  You campaign on your weakness.  The liberals lost Vietnam.  They forced our country to turn tail, which made Osama bin Laden think we were weak, which was why Al Qaeda attacked us!

    Patently absurd as this logic is, it can work even if no one falls for it entirely.  In these undeliberative times, you don’t have to win the debate to win the election.  You need only to sow doubt in your own weaknesses, and in your opponent’s strengths.  Look what happened with the Swift Boat campaign; accusations of cowardice raised a small doubt about John Kerry even in the minds of voters who didn’t believe the ads. 

    As the Creationists say, preach the controversy.  In a divided, argument-averse country, a small doubt can make all the difference. 


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    Reader Comments (6)

    SEW doubt? I always try to SOW it, myself.
    August 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
    Well! You totally missed my subtle textile analogy. NOT!

    I fixed it. You can't get anything past a Figarist.

    August 26, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Keith Olberman had good material on this last Friday. He does Countdown on MSNBC. He had the scholar that was misused by Bushy to make a point that our dealings with Japan were like his in Iraq. "No damn way" was the writer's basic retort. Bush spun anal-sauce out of other wars and they too were dissected as untrue analogies.

    But what the Hell? I went to school in Kansas City and you cannot believe how stupid the Republican destructors are. (They like to call themselves "Conservatives" but every time they rant they want to destroy something—usually the Constitution.)

    By the way, you also might mention Max Clelland from Georgia. Here is a hero that had to leave body parts in Vietnam and the Georgia "Good-Old-Boys, One-of-These-Days-God-Will-Bring-Back-the-Klu-Klux-Klan-and-Segregation" falsely cited him for cowardice and a Sniveling Li'l Sniveler got his Senate seat.

    God! I just re-read Elie Weisel's NIGHT and, when anybody asks me "How could the Holocaust have happened" I just point to Bush and his Joesph Goebbels, Karlie-Boy Rove.
    August 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMel
    Karl Rove's rhetorical jujitsu aside, Bush is drawing on a conservative discourse whose history is traceable to at least Ronald Regan. Bush (nor Rove), is not the first to posit that the politicians lost Vietnam. go watch the Rambo movies if you do not believe me.

    Thankfully, this analysis has not spread far beyond the conservative politicos. Unfortunately, those are the people in charge.
    August 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGimpyBee
    It's at least as old as WW1: DolchstoĂźlegende, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stab_in_the_back_legend. In a nutshell: Blame the Libs!

    The Bush Administration et al have been doing early work on spreading that belief, and when a Democrat has the mess handed to them in 08 they can say "not us, 'twas the libs."
    August 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSydney J. Carton
    Yes, but what's different is the running-on-one's weakness part. You'll find the tactic extending far beyond Iraq-Nam in this next election.

    August 31, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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