The Delusion of Rhetoric

Here is an example of the type of radically illogical "logic" that the far right wing (and very popular) Ann Althouse engages in. 

Here is another example on a substantive topic which Althouse, as a law professor, should be able to reasonably assess, where Althouse can't even correctly read the Washington Post article that she relies upon, much less assess the situation correctly. (Note, Althouse's Post was considerably altered, and shortened, after this critique of it went up; we are sure coincidentally.) Here Althouse asserts that Barack Obama called the Cambridge police stupid.  Obama did not. He said the police (clearly referring to the arresting officers) acted stupidly. This might seem like a minor miscue, but for a law professor it is anything but. 

Here, on Monday, is an example of a new form of game playing that passes for commentary these days.

Among some of the less radically far right comments to this highly manipulative post, are the following

1.  "I think people are starting to 'get' Ann. One person said she is masterful in picking out holes in arguments, and provoking others to lose it when they become frustrated in not being able to defend their positions."

Actually, Althouse is masterful at manipulating the issue from an ideological perspective, without having to bother with facts, or plain, objective non partisan reason, that cuts against it.This is what makes her wildly popular, among those with potentially similar ideological bent (just as it does Sarah Palin.)

2.   "Ann's a tease of sorts. She knows how to phrase things in such a manner as to call into question someone else's motives and actions in an enticing manner."
Actually, Althouse knows how to phrase things in such a manner so as to turn inside out, and outside in.

Consider what she does in this very same post.

In an earlier post, which famous blogger Andrew Sullivan noted here, Althouse took one of the weaker examples of Sarah Palin "lies" by Sullivan -- Palin's claim that the "only" flag that she has in her office is the Israeli flag -- and jumped all over it.

It was a pretty weak example of a lie.  But consider the logic that Althouse uses to address it:
What's odd is his definition of a lie. If I said I was just wearing jeans to a party, you wouldn't have exposed me as a liar if I turned up wearing a shirt and shoes as well. In fact, you'd sound like a dork — or, with good enough delivery, a comedian — if you said, "You liar. You said you were just wearing jeans!"
Except for one very big thing.  "Just wearing jeans" in terms of "going out" attire refers to the outfit, not just the jeans, and everyone knows this. Just as the statement that "I am going over" X's house does not mean that one is literally flying over X's house,and everyone knows this.

The statement "the only flag I have in my office" has no such connotation, whatsoever.  None.

Althouse is a law professor, and yet, apparently, could not see this distinction.  Or chose not to.

But then notice how Althouse failed to respond to Sullivan's point, which was to "debunk" what she bitterly complained of. Instead, she fantasized about just such a list of "lies" by Obama; but of course did not produce one.  And if and when Althouse does -- though it is likely this won't happen -- one can be certain it will be filled with errors, misrepresentations, and manipulations. (And in the event Althouse does produce such a list, this statement that it "will be filled with errors, misrepresentations, and manipulations" will be referred back to for support. One might wonder how this can be so comfortably predicted. Easy: it is the largely unwitting modus operandus of those who are patently driven by intense ideology.  Also, to believe that Palin and Obama engage in disseminating falsity on anywhere near the same level, or even in the same ball park, is either to be driven by such blind ideology, or to know very little of the facts of which Palin speaks.)

Should Sullivan be calling Palin clinically delusional? No, but then that's not the point of Althouse's post, either. 

What Sullivan may not get here is that people are partisanally driven -- the more ideologically so, the more they tend to filter facts to suit their own beliefs. Althouse is a far more educated version of this. Palin is not well informed, to say the least, is very ideologically, almost religiously, driven, has a fanastic gift for rhetoric, and then on top of all this tends to see things in a way that reinforces a very simplistic, and often highly erroneous view of things, while grasping (albeit often in wildly distorted fashion) a few underlying fundamental truths, or half truths. This is greatly enabled by the fact that Palin is so good at this, in terms of convincing herself, and many others. 

Glenn Beck is clinically delusional.  Palin is not. And Sullivan should probably stay away from pop psychology.

Althouse, in the meantime, should follow her own fairly ironic statement in this same Post on Sullivan that she is "into pursuing the truth."  If she was, she would be a bit more concerned about why a good portion of the country is widly supportive of a women that knows very little about America and is often wildly misleading, rather than concerning herself with word and manipulative game playing over Republican Sullivan's list giving: And thus into finding out the truth or fiction of such assertions (and many other misrepresentations by Palin that Sullivan missed), rather than simply fantasizing the same over her professed deeply ingrained political enemy, Barack Obama.

But Perhaps Althouse is somewhat of a closet Palin supporter herself. After all, a careful read of her wildly popular blog aptly illustrates that with a gift for logical twisting in support of ideology, she is not all that different from her.