Don’t fall into the BDS trap with Obama

At the end of my “Is Barack Obama evil” post, I issued this warning:

Conservatives devalue their arguments against Obama’s policy if they start throwing the word “evil” around.  While that may work with the converted, it frightens the vast middle.  Rather than looking like wise men (and women) with a better plan, conservatives start looking like wild-eyed street corner prophets.  We may be right, but no one will listen.

One of the most important things young lawyers learn (or, at least, should learn), is not to use ad hominem attacks against opposing counsel.  If your opposing counsel is indeed dishonest (which is usually the direction ad attacks take), you get much further with the Court if you provide proof of that dishonesty, and then let the Court draw the obvious conclusion itself.  Calling opposing counsel names denies the Court the necessary proof and merely makes you look bad.

In our discussions about Obama and the Democrats, we should make sure that we lead our readers to the truth.  Let them draw the ultimate negative conclusions.  As Socrates knew, a lesson is always learned better if the student has his own epiphany, rather than having a point, no matter how good it is, forced down his throat.

I’m not the only one sounding this tocsin.  David Horowitz makes the same point:

Conservatives, please. Let’s not duplicate the manias of the Left as we figure out how to deal with Mr. Obama. He is not exactly the anti-Christ, although a disturbing number of people on the Right are convinced he is.


In other words, while it’s reasonable to be unhappy with a Democratic administration and even concerned because the Democrats are now a socialist party in the European sense, we are not witnessing the coming of the anti-Christ. A good strategy for political conflicts is to understand your opponent first – not to underestimate him, but not to overestimate him either.

The beauty of our democracy is that we can ride Obama hard for what we perceive as his failings.  We must keep him in perspective, however, so that don’t weaken either our power or our credibility, both of which we’ll need as we pick our battles in the ordinary fights of a two party system.

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  • Ronald Hayden

    Related to this, I think we should be careful about engaging in the natural desire to point out Obama’s hypocrasy when he decides to maintain the Bush status quo on military issues in particular.

    Or rather, we shouldn’t just use those examples as a negative; we should praise him for doing the right thing (which is better than doing the wring thing after all) while reminding his supporters that his promises are no more meaningful than any other politician (and much less than some, but there I go again!)

  • Ronald Hayden

    (Sorry for typos — typing in a situation where corrections are hard to make…)

  • Mike Devx

    I agree with Book and Ronald – up to a point.

    I agree that the main content of your discussion or debate should be focused on the policies and on expressing your content positively. “It’s good to see that Obama is doing the right thing in Afghanistan in sending more troops…”

    But I still think it’s effective – and maybe crucial – to every once in a while toss in one or two negative asides in there as well, as long as your policy points are stated strongly and well. (And to be honest, Book, don’t you do that in your posts, sometimes, concerning Obama?)

    If you do, it’s best to be humorous, or at least gentle about it, though. No grim face, no anger, no shaking of the finger, no “I told you so”…

    We could learn a lot from Reagan. If you haven’t seen ‘The Reagan Wit’, it’s an enjoyable trip down memory lane. Bookmark it and check it out when you have time. You’ll feel… just more dang optimistic about your day! … once you’re done.

  • ckrcsmith

    IMHO, people are required by God to know if something is “bad”, and to refrain from doing bad. However, only God can know if a bad act will ultimately result in evil or good. Therefore I agree with Book that Obama is doing many bad things, but we can not know if he is evil.

    As for whether Obama is the anti-Christ, I have little interest in that. I do not spend my time anticipating the arrival of the anti-Christ. Rather, I am eagerly looking for the return of the Lord my God, Jesus, the Christ. By my reading of the Bible, I will be gone (raptured) by the time anyone is certain of the anti-Christ’s identity. Because of this, my interest in the anti-Christ’s identity is purely academic, casual, and not personal.

  • Zhombre

    I’m with Horowitz. (Admission: I own an autographed copy of Radical Son.) I deplored BDS and the irrational, vituperative depths to which political discussion has sunk over the last 8 years. However much I oppose Obama and Democrat majority in Congress God help me if I sink to the same miserable depths.

  • suek
  • Oldflyer

    I think we should cheerfully acknowledge when he does something well.

    For instance I am excited about the car warranty deal. I cannot wait to drive up to the White House and ask for an oil change and check the squeak in the engine of my new GM vehicle, please. Soon as I buy a GM vehicle. I guess it may not be as exciting if you don’t live near DC.

    I hope Rahm is not the new Car Warranty Czar; he is such a sourpuss.

    By the way, I hope everyone is familiar with It will bring a smile to your day.

    Remember: There wouldn’t be POTUS without TOTUS.

  • RHJunior

    Pardon me, but just how bad does he have to get before we call him evil? If the last liberal president was any indicator, philandery, sexual harassment and assault, attacking one’s enemies with the IRS, grabbing a refugee child at gunpoint to turn him over to a communist tyrant, and burning a compound full of women and children to death isn’t enough… because calling the Clintons “evil”, even after all of that and more, was just so GAUCHE.

    We’re up this particular tributary of sewage without a manual propulsion device precisely because we’re so squeamish about calling things— like Marxism— “evil.” In three months Obama has already done things that will impoverish generations of Americans yet to be born. And what he has PLANNED may bloody well guarantee there’s no America left!

  • Ronald Hayden

    I think it’s not difficult to consider Stalin or Hitler or the like evil, for reasons Book already discussed.

    When it comes to people like Obama…well, I just listened to a talk Adam Gopnik gave about Lincoln and Darwin (the subject of his latest book), and it reminded me of a theory of mine that if Lincoln were a President today (or, say, for the last eight years), the left would HATE him with a passion far exceeding their hatred of Bush.

    In addition to waging a seemingly endless war with seemingly endless deaths when he could have let the slave states go, and to stubbornly sticking to his approach even if every single person in the rest of the country disagreed, he severely restricted civil rights, throwing newspaper editors and the like in jail, and he equivocated on whether slavery was the burning moral question of the war or was a convenient excuse, etc.

    Even today educated and well-meaning people argue over Lincoln’s moral intent and the legal justifications for his actions. Few, I think, in our day and age, consider him evil.

    If you can kill that many people (especially your own citizens), with that much moral ambiguity involved, and be considered by almost all as not only not evil, but a great President (where great doesn’t always have to mean “good”, if you know what I mean), then I think calling Obama, or Bush, or whatever was the last President of the party you don’t happen to support, evil, is pushing it.

    There are lengths Obama can go to that would register as evil for me, but as much as I emphatically disagree with his theory of government and where he is attempting to take the country, it’s an honest disagreement and, if we manage to weather it as a country, it’s just a political disagreement.

    It seems quite unlikely we’re going to end up with concentration camps for racial or political groups, or troops firing on people who disagree with him politically, or politically motivated mass starvation, or anything like that, which would qualify for the “E” word in my book.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Ron Hayden, Lincoln did have the “Left” during his administration. They were called Copperheads (the name of a poisonous snake, for those of you not from the East) and openly committed treason to undermine Lincoln during the Civil War. Many of the Copperheads were based in Illinois (including Chicago). I maintain that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin exemplifies a long Copperhead tradition in Illinois.

    “It seems quite unlikely we’re going to end up with concentration camps for racial or political groups, or troops firing on people who disagree with him politically, or politically motivated mass starvation.”

    Perhaps not. But, the true measure of who and what these people are will come when true resistance builds to their policies and impedes their march toward Utopia. Then we will see. Certainly the hard-left Weather Underground of Ayers and Dohrn had no trouble with such policies and it is people like them that are running our government today.

  • Mike Devx

    >> It seems quite unlikely we’re going to end up with concentration camps for racial or political groups, or troops firing on people who disagree with him politically, or politically motivated mass starvation

    The problem with “it can’t happen here”, is that, sometimes it does. Though rarely.

    But I agree, we won’t see concentration camps, mass starvation…

    As to “troops firing on people who disagree”… it may well depend on how strongly they disagree, and on the “who” it is that we’re talking about.

    Unless Obama really is the figurehead Manchurian candidate of a shadow force that is committed to executing a plan to secretly take us over by 2016 via crisis after crisis after crisis leading to ever expanding centralized control, it won’t be Obama doing that. But regardless, Obama will have put the pieces in place for a different, much more ruthless president, to fire on people.

    Obama will have put everything into place, if he enacts the policies he has hinted at. The two worst pieces: massive gun control, and civilian defense corps to keep our internal situation “stable”.

    And again, it’s not that it will happen, it’s that it could.

  • Ronald Hayden

    Certainly the hard-left Weather Underground of Ayers and Dohrn had no trouble with such policies and it is people like them that are running our government today.

    I agree that Ayers and Dohrn, at least when at the height of their radicalism, did support with the sorts of pogroms we would find truly evil (an undercover agent described their group’s discussions of how many thousands would need to die in re-education efforts and the like), and certainly any move in that direction will quickly qualify Obama as such.

    But we see nothing like that today from Obama, and in fact we see him in the arena of foreign policy completing Bush’s time table in Iraq and pouring more troops into Afghanistan.

    What I take from this is that he has turned out to be my almost-worst-case scenario on domestic policy, and best-case scenario (so far) on foreign policy. Well, on war policy…unfortunately his instincts for standard diplomacy or if anything worse than Bush’s, which is pretty amazing.

    The greatest realistic areas of concern for me domestically, where one can envision a true slippery slope, is a combination of speech controls (Fairness Doctrine; the bizarre lurch into Orwellian speak) and wage/price controls that combine the worst anti-speech instincts of Canada with the worst economic socialist tendencies of France, in which case we end up both poor and guilty of thought crimes.

    While I will do anything I possibly can to help prevent such a direction, I still see the economic aspect of this as legitimate political differences; the speech controls would take it to another level, as I equate true speech/thought crime restrictions as about as bad as pulling out the guns and the concentration camps.

  • Mike Devx

    Obama has nothing on Woodrow Wilson. We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet out of Obama.

    If you want to see a real control freak, fascist Statist president running amok, investigate the adminstration of Woodrow Wilson during World War I.

    Good ole Woodie got the liberal whitewash treatment, which is why you don’t really know what a monster he was. We should have the benefits of hindsight in seeing just how bad Statist control can get… but the whitewash job on Wilson was thorough and effective.