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Monday, September 29, 2008

E.J. Dionne, Jr. offers definitive example of cognitive dissonance in debate analysis

E.J. Dionne, Jr. is an amusing fellow, often most so when he doesn't intend to be. My amusement at two of his most recent paragraphs generated my most recent guest-post at HughHewitt.com.

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[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

I promise that the following two paragraphs actually do appear back to back in an op-ed entitled McCain's Lost Chance by columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. in today's WaPo:

An Obama adviser who was watching a "dial group" -- in which viewers turn a device to express their feelings about a debate's every moment -- said that whenever McCain lectured or attacked Obama, the Republican's ratings would drop, and the fall was especially steep among women.

But if the debate was indeed a tie — and McCain certainly looked informed and engaged once the discussion moved from economics to foreign affairs — this would count as a net gain for Obama. A foreign policy discussion afforded McCain his best opportunity to aggravate doubts about his foe. That opportunity is now gone.

Got that? McCain lost the debate because he tried to aggravate doubts about Obama on foreign policy/national security issues. And McCain lost the debate because he failed to aggravate doubts about Obama on foreign policy/national security issues. This gives new meaning to the old phrase, "can't win for losing."

Now, no one should be surprised that Mr. Dionne's objectivity is a bit compromised. That's a danger that every advocate faces whenever he puts on a pundit's hat, or vice versa. But rarely does one see a pundit whose judgment is so addled that it contradicts itself this directly in two successive paragraphs.

Step back. Yes, this debate was supposedly about foreign policy and national security, although that emphasis was terribly diluted by the moderator's decision to spend one-third of it on an urgent and timely domestic issue. I don't think that's going to matter in the long run, though. McCain's credibility on national security and foreign affairs completely dwarfs Obama's. Obama implicitly recognized that himself in his Veep selection; it's unfortunate for him that Slow Joe "All Iraq is Divided Into Three Parts" Biden is the closest thing the Dems have had to a foreign policy/national security mensch since Sam Nunn left the Senate.

No, to the extent that the election will turn on these issues — or, for that matter, on continuing opposition to the Iraq War — those voters are probably already mostly hardened in their views. And to the extent they're not, each candidate managed to get across his basic positions more than adequately: McCain was for the Iraq War, was for the Surge, and is for victory. Obama was against the Iraq War, was against the Surge, and can't permit the word "victory" to cross his lips except with reference to his hopes for his own political campaign.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 05:00 AM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Maura made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 3:17:46 PM | Permalink

"... McCain was for the Iraq War, was for the Surge, and is for victory. Obama was against the Iraq War, was against the Surge, and can't permit the word "victory" to cross his lips except with reference to his hopes for his own political campaign."

I especially appreciated this great distillation of fundamental differences between McCain and Obama. Gonna be quotin' ya on this one!

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 5:43:04 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: I'll see your Dionne hand, with Howard Fineman of NEWSWEEK, viz:

WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration began at midnight Sunday. Okay, I exaggerate. But I am trying to make a point.

and I'll raise you with more Fineman:

Which is this: Even if Sen. Barack Obama loses the presidential election — and of course he may — the playing field of our politics now has shifted seismically in his philosophical direction. The era of cowboy capitalism has died, largely of self-inflicted wounds [someone oughta tell Howie about the Billyboy version of the 1995 Community Reinvestment Act. He'd have to use the rubber hose on his journalistic conscience again---GK] Who knows what’s coming now? I do: A new era of tight business regulation and government intervention in the markets. For now, and perhaps for many years, there will be no going back.

I invite other readers to give their own samples of press roguery and witlessness.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster


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