Obama response to Palin analogy-how would a law professor handle it.

Robert Sheridan rs at robertsheridan.com
Sat Apr 10 19:28:18 PDT 2010

Before replying that an ad  hominem attack might be just what the doctor 
ordered in the case of Sarah Palin, who is qualified to comment on very 
little, imho, and particularly on nuclear and foreign policy, fields 
that require some study and consultation with people who spend their 
lives involved in them, I thought I'd check to see what first Palin and 
then Obama said. 

Here's Palin:  http://tinyurl.com/yck99aq

She seems to be in full red lip-sticked, smiling pit-bull mode and 
enjoying taking free shots in front of an appreciative audience of 
supporters that wishes to see Obama torn down with her brand of ridicule.

Mark Whittington of the National Post reported on Obama's reply, thus: 

       "Sarah Palin, speaking before the Southern Republican Leadership 
on April 9^th , continued what is starting to be referred to as the 
Sarah Palin/Barack Obama nuclear war. The speech brought the
 audience to its feet several times.

Sarah Palin 
<http://www.associatedcontent.com/topic/100751/sarah_palin.html> had 
launched the first strike Wednesday on the Sean Hannity Show 
when she criticized President Obama's nuclear policy by stating that the 
revamped nuclear strategy, saying it was like a child in a playground 
who says 'punch me in the face, I'm not going to retaliate."

The next day, President Obama replied, "I really have no response to 
that. The last I checked, Sarah Palin 
<http://www.associatedcontent.com/topic/100751/sarah_palin.html> is not 
much of an expert on nuclear issues."

On Friday, in a wide ranging speech before the Southern Republican 
Leadership Conference that criticized a number of Obama administration 
policies, Sarah Palin 
referred to President Obama's "--all that vast nuclear expertise he 
acquired as a community organizer, a part-time senator and a candidate 
for president."

Advantage, so far, Sarah Palin 
<http://www.associatedcontent.com/topic/100751/sarah_palin.html> in the 
third strike so far in the Palin/Obama nuclear war.

Review of the Palin clip, above, shows that after making the 
child-in-a-playground analogy, her big, (lame) punchline was to the 
effect that after all that, referring to his alleged non-expertise 
acquired as a candidate, etc., Obama had made no progress in getting 
North Korea and Iran to cooperate in the nuclear arena.  She'd have been 
great speaking against Jesus's 'turn the other cheek' statement, 
wouldn't she?

I should think that the LAST thing Obama would want to do would be to 
try to respond to this sort of campaign-style rhetoric with anything 
that looked like he was treating her seriously such as by providing an 
explanation citing chapter and verse about the time he's spent, the 
experts he's consulted, over how long a period, what they recommend and 
why, etc., for once he starts down that road there's no end.  She 
doesn't want an explanation.  Her point didn't ask for reason.  She was 
making a rhetorical point.  It's not always wise to rise to the bait of 
rhetorical questions.  Better sometimes to leave them be.  I thought I 
heard Obama also say that if the heads of the military and the State 
department are okay with the nuclear agreement with Russia, it must be 
allright, or words to that effect.

Palin can come out with her brand of lunacy until the cows come home and 
Obama will never persuade her, or her partisans, differently.  Nor does 
he need to persuade his own partisans about her.  This is politics, not 
a college debate, and even there it's better to let some arguments lie.  
Better he treat her as beneath contempt, if not notice.  Perhaps next 
time he'll be better advised to ignore her as unavoidable political 
static and get on with his/our business.  He doesn't need to engage with 
her.  She needed to goad him into engaging with her, which she succeeded 
in doing.  Score one for her.  She's very good at invective and 
bullet-proof in return for she has nothing left to lose.

When Palin, in the clip, pronounces 'nuclear' as 'nuke-u-lar,' the game 
was up for me.  That's how George W pronounced it.  With that in mind, I 
happened to be in the Nuclear Medicine Department of one of the world's 
largest HMOs a few years back, during the W presidency, and had the 
chance to ask the office head how she pronounced the name of the 
department.  It wasn't "nuke-u-lar," I can tell you that.

No, the comment needed to be ignored, or merely given a seemingly 
off-hand contemptuous retort, if anything, and that's what Obama did, 
perhaps because he needed to call it as the idiocy he apparently sees it.

Shouldn't we all feel grateful to Sen. McCain for going to Alaska to 
present us with this new Pandora's box?

The Scope's Monkey Trial of the 1920s has been said to have been a 
contest between two cultures, one the emerging college-educated class, 
children of the Enlightenment, on one side, and the broad, populist, 
more religiously fundamentalist types as to whom the so-called 
Enlightenment didn't seem to come near, on the other.  Ridicule was the 
prime tool of defense attorney Clarence Darrow 
(*http://tinyurl.com/8xgxm) *and Baltimore Sun columnist H. L. Mencken  
(*http://tinyurl.com/2p7rq3)*.  Special prosecuting attorney William 
Jennings Bryan (the Tennessee jury sided with him) and his followers 
were held to ridicule in the press and intellectual circles, then and 
ever after.  Yet that deep American theme, that core of belief, while it 
may have lain low for many decades, never died, but awoke under Nixon, 
Reagan, and both Bushes, who cultivated it assiduously.  Sarah is 
talking to them and they're eating it up.  This is not a group that 
wants to be reasoned with.


Alan Sager wrote:
> Recently, Sara Palin said about Obama's nuke policy:
> You know that's kinda like getting out there on the playground, a 
> bunch of kids ready to fight and one of the kids saying 'Go ahead, 
> punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do 
> what you want to with me.'"
> Obama responded with an ad hominem attack on her.
> It seems to me a law professor would defend  Obama's  position  with 
> either a better or what he or she considers a more appropriate  
> analogy or an analogy that cuts the heart out of Palin's analogy. So 
> my question, is what analogies might he used in response to Palin's.
> Alan Sager, J.D. Phd.
> Lecturer in Government
> University of Texas at Austin
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