February 12, 2004

Politicians' Rhetorical Ploys

Tibor Machan on how politicians manage to avoid though questions by using rethorical tricks:

It is the right time now to check in on how politicians and their staff try to hoodwink us all. It isn’t just candidates but a great many public policy celebrities who resort to various ploys-­as when they are asked about how they would handle this or that eventuality, and they decline on the grounds that they do not deal with hypotheticals. And it is all balderdash.

Fact is, hypotheticals are all we deal with as we go about setting our plans for whatever we do in our lives. As one philosopher, Stephen Law, put it recently in Think, a journal of UK’s The Royal Institute of Philosophy: "But actually, this [the evasion] is just a cheap rhetorical trick. It is part of the politician’s job to consider hypothetical questions, questions such as ‘What if the global economy takes a nose dive?’ and ‘What if interest rates rise?’ In fact, politicians are often very keen to answer such questions­-for example, they are more than happy to tell us what they will do if they win the election, even if it is rather unlike they will win."

(...)

What should be obvious is that politics is impotent to help us with much of anything in the world and, more importantly, those running for office and meddling in our affairs appear to know this plain and simple. They might well not be so evasive, so duplicitous, if they thought they actually had some solutions to problems we face and the silly journalists actually expect them to address. "What will you do if the market crashes?" What ditzy questions are these sorts anyway to a politician? But too many our journalists are ideologically on board with those who see the mighty state as the solver of our problems, so they keep addressing those who run for office and are in office as if they had a clue.