« This is what a real outing looks like -- "ABC's shame" | Main | Supreme Empathy? »

The 'No Ad Hominem' Political Debate Tournament

Yesterday was amusing, in that certain individuals proved they just could not address the topic, instead falling into personal insults and ad hominem attacks; indeed some of them began with such tactics. So, for today I thought we would try something fun, and see who could go the longest in a political debate without using an ad hominem attack. For those who are unclear with the term, ad hominem is an argument that focuses on the person rather than the topic. A common example of this is the court case where the defense lawyer cannot win on the facts of the case, so he tries to turn things around and put the prosecution and witnesses on trial. The most notorious recent example of this would be OJ Simpson's murder trial. The ad hominem tactic in political rhetoric is the common habit of going after the writer or prominent individuals on irrelevant bases; like mocking the appearance of a person or implying criminal conduct on no basis other than theatrics. Examples of this would include the unsupported assumption that President Obama was personally responsible for the FUBAR NYC fly-by this week, or tagging TEA party protesters as 'rednecks'; in neither case is the argument supported by evidence or facts, but is generated and propelled through subjective antipathy against a person. This is much different than legitimate debate, such as discussing the economic history of stimulus and tax bills or the specific language in proposed legislation.

So here we go. The topic, since we are still in the range of the celebrated '100th day' of President Obama's term, is the practical effectiveness of Obama's policies and actions so far. I will not participate in this one, as I am the referee - when someone presents a personal attack or one which ignores the topic, I will so tag the poster and call them out (and delete any further posts from that person, so if you get tagged, you may as well go find another article for your comments). I will also tag and exclude any responses to such comments, so if you come across a comment which is out-of-bounds, don't respond to it because that will get you excluded as well. The winner will be that person who best presents their argument with evidence and on-topic. In the event of a tie, I may call in additional judges.

Let's see who can make a good, clean argument.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The 'No Ad Hominem' Political Debate Tournament:

» Wizbang linked with Clean Rhetoric Winners

Comments (16)

Obama has practically and e... (Below threshold)

Obama has practically and effectively marginalized me from his administration. I signed up at Obamabot.com like I was supposed to, and have patiently waited for a response. [crickets chirping] After all, I consider myself an expert having bought high and sold low my entire life. So I would say his administration has been effective on this one point so far.

But I keep watching my mailbox every day, just in case.

[Ooooooooooo, too bad! First one out! Note that the tone and focus of this comment mocks Obama but does not address any empirical data or address specific policies. So epador is out. Too bad, I hate to see that in the first comment]

Although I am pretty much d... (Below threshold)

Although I am pretty much disgusted as a another week closes to tally what Obama has done, I will stick to the Tea Parties.

I am appalled that the President can actually say he never heard of them, and then to dump the sincerity of those who attended as Fox News droids.

So much for crossing the aisle.

President Obama has been in... (Below threshold)

President Obama has been ineffective as president when it come to foreign policy.
1. On his trip to Europe failed to get European leaders to support sending more troops to Afghanistan
2. Pakistan is now in worst shape due to increased Taliban activities after President Obama reached out to moderate Taliban
3. Iran
4. Korea
5. The leadership of Frances was not impressed with President Obama.

The topic, since we are ... (Below threshold)

The topic, since we are still in the range of the celebrated '100th day' of President Obama's term, is the practical effectiveness of Obama's policies and actions so far.

I'll start just bringing up two subjects to talk about, and within those, just two facets. We can start small.

Looking at the economic side, so far, Obama's administration, with the help of a Democatically controlled Congress, has embarked on a huge spending spree. Many have brought up the analogy of personal debt. For instance, if you have lets say, fifty thousand dollars of personal debt, what is the best way to clear yourself from that debt, spend more money, or begin living within your means?

Spending seven hundred billion on social programs that do not historically create jobs and are not productive at large to the economy, and filling the bill with earmarks and pork will not stimulate anything. I would ask if anyone thinks it will, to explain to me how this is so.


In the arena of Foreign Affairs, while Obama seems to be generally well regarded, he may have worn his welcome a little thin with the European Union during the G20 when he proposed that Turkey should join the EU. Other EU countries, specifically France, stated they viewed this as prying in affairs distinctly outside of the bounds of U.S. influence.

There is also the issue of state gifts to both the PM of England and to the Queen of England. In both cases, Obama's choice of gifts, in relation to both the gifts presented to him, and gifts historically given, seem rather cheap and out of place. However, if this had any great impact on both of the gift receivers it wasn't said.

Sorry, not sure by what you... (Below threshold)

Sorry, not sure by what you mean by the "practical effectiveness of Obama's policies and actions so far".

From whose perspective? The country as a whole, on people on an individual basis?

And by 'so far', do you mean how people have been impacted so far... or the way people are likely to be impacted from what he has done so far?

For example, America hasn't been attacked - yet - as a result of Obama releasing the memos. My taxes haven't gone up - yet, but the likelihood is higher that they will go up as a result of what Obama has done so far.

So, at the risk of having this comment deleted for not following the rules, I humbly request that you please elaborate a bit.

Speaking of Obama's practic... (Below threshold)

Speaking of Obama's practical effectiveness so far, I noticed at his presser he didn't ask that worn out question, "Are you better off now.....?"

As far as practical effects... (Below threshold)
James H:

As far as practical effects, etc., I think President Obama so far is a mixed bag.

On bipartisanship, I give him a few points for trying, but not too many. His efforts strike me as on par with President George W. Bush's early bipartisanship efforts. Remember No Child Left Behind? IIRC, President Bush invited Ted Kennedy to the White House, etc., before partisan tendencies set in.

On economic policy, I think Obama has done well so far, but it's difficult to tell how effective his policies will be. I don't think we'll see the full effects -- positive or negative -- of the stimulus package until later this year.

On political organization, I give him a qualified passing grade. Obama has done proven very apt at setting the terms of debate in Washington and in the media. He has been very aggressive with photo ops, etc., giving him a virtual monopoly on communications. On the details of policies, however, Obama falls short of exemplary marks. On both the budget resolution and the stimulus package, he did a poor job of keeping his party in line on the issue of earmarks.

In terms of security policy, I am ambivalent. On the one hand, I support the release of the torture memos and the effort to shed light on less well-known aspects of the previous administration's execution of the war on terror. However, Obama's continued waffling and passing of the buck on the issue of prosecution has obfuscated what should have been a stance of utter clarity. Prosecute? Not prosecute? Investigate? Not investigate? Inquiry? No inquiry? Each of the possible courses has both negative and positive possible outcomes. If Obama wanted to project moral clarity (or political clarity), he should have state a course of action and stuck with it. It's all well and good for the president to change his mind repeatedly on large issues behind closed doors. That's what meeting with your advisors is for. But he needs to be consistent when in front of the public.

Also, Obama's actions on the state secrets doctrine and warrantless wiretapping are not consistent with his rhetoric. A number of us on the left voted for him specifically because we wished modification or even abandonment of those policies. Obama has failed to deliver here.

Foreign policy is also a mixed bag. I approve of efforts to reach out to Iran and Cuba. In particular, efforts to address the Iranian people, rather than the Iranian leaders, are sound policy. Also, the embargo on Cuba is a cold war relic that should be reversed as soon as possible. But otherwise, Obama is so far of marginal effectiveness. The tempests in teapots over bows, photo ops, and head-of-state tchochkes don't concern me. However, Obama seems stuck in crisis-response mode, whether in Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq. If Obama is to be successful in this arena, he needs to be more proactive. Whether his goal is to promote democracy, stability, human rights, or chicken farming, Obama needs to set out an agenda and work toward it. I don't see anything beyond regional firefighting so far.

I think Obama's policies on... (Below threshold)

I think Obama's policies on the economy are non productive. Literally and figuaratively. He allowed himself or bought into the massive waste that was in the "economical stimulus" package. His demonstrated policy on the economy is democrats wants and needs over stimulating the economy. That, of course, is a shame.

On foreign policy, you cannot go around the world as the leader of a superpower apologizing for our country when the majority of the country elected the person of GW Bush. It insults our democracy. It insults our voters. It makes us look weak. It makes us look needy.

From the same actions Obama demonstrated he is not a sound and dependable leader. ww

The past 100 days of the Ob... (Below threshold)

The past 100 days of the Obama Administration has been an abysmal failure. The reasons why:

1. The passage of the $1.3 trillion budget. It is far larger than any budget that the government has ever passed, from George Washington to Bush 43. This monstrosity will be a burden of debt for the next 3 generations.

2. The foreign policy failures. Specially, the bow to the King of Saudi Arabia, the cheap tawdry gifts to the British Prime Minister and the Queen of England, the plans to lift the embargo on Cuba and others that have been listed here in other posts.

3. Blatant disregard for the views of people that have different opinions than his. i.e. the tax protests, calling out Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

4 The feigned ignorance of the fly-over of Air Force One at the site of worst terrorist attack on the United States.

Stan25,I may be mi... (Below threshold)


I may be mistaken, but isn't one reason why the budget is so much higher is because it includes war spending?

One thing that strikes me a... (Below threshold)

One thing that strikes me as an obvious improvement in terms of foreign policy is lifting the embargo on Cuba. It didn't help the Cuban people; didn't keep America any safer; and was basically just a way of expressing contempt for Communism. Now Communism is certainly a worthy object of contempt, but that does not warrant a strategically nonsensical embargo.

The Cuban government will modernize and normalize its relations with the West, when America's overtures become more appealing than Chavez's. That really shouldn't be very hard.

Also, it's a very inexpensive place to go on holiday, and it's chock-full of sexy Canadian girls. :)

I may be mistaken,... (Below threshold)
I may be mistaken, but isn't one reason why the budget is so much higher is because it includes war spending?

Nope. That is just the money for the programs that Obama wants to fund, such as the National Health Care boondoggle, the funding for abortions overseas, and other spending. The military has been slashed so that there could be more money for the other crap.

Military spending actually ... (Below threshold)

Military spending actually hasn't been slashed. It's increasing, just not at the rate that some people would like it to.

Your military will still be far greater than any other three countries' armed forces combined, so criticizing Gates' budget is pretty baseless.

comment 13 - watch it hyper... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

comment 13 - watch it hyper, that drifted off-topic. You're still in, but stick to the topic if you please.

I was responding to Stan25,... (Below threshold)

I was responding to Stan25, who said that funding had been slashed, which isn't the case.

It's not debatable in this ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

It's not debatable in this thread, hyper. You got the yellow card, should I pull out the red?






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy