Insinuation and Fear-Mongering vs. Deception: Rice vs. Ryan
During the Republican National convention Paul Ryan or Condoleezza Rice used different approaches in their attempts to persuade voters. When a person attempts to be persuasive, they can also mislead. Both made misleading statements. However, across the political spectrum Condoleezza Rice’s speech was praised as Presidential and the sort of speech that stood above the current political fray.
In contrast, Fact Check identified six areas where Paul Ryan’s speech was misleading at best. Politifact wrote a searing commentary about Ryan’s description of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. Politifact also gave Paul Ryan a rating of false for his claim that ‘President Barack Obama broke his promise to keep a Wisconsin GM plant from closing’. Politifact also gave Paul Ryan a rating of mostly false for claiming President Obama ‘funneled’ $716 billion out of Medicare ‘at the expense of the elderly’. Finally, Politifact also noted that Ryan’s claim that Household income in America has gone down for families an average of $4,000 in the last four years’ while it ‘went up $5,000’ under Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Politifact also awarded the congressman the pants on fire rating for a previous comment about the President. In April, Ryan claimed President Barack Obama ‘has doubled the size of government since he took office’.
In contrast to Ryan’s misleading statements, Condoleezza Rice’s speech(see video above) uses the tactics of insinuation and fear-mongering. Early in her speech she suggested that other countries no longer know where we stand. However,
“Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder, “Where does America stand?”
Indeed that is the question of the moment- “Where does America stand?” When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place. The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom."
Without actually criticizing the President, it’s clear she is insinuating that the President’s administration has confused the international community. Yet, she supplies no evidence to support her claim. the reality is that the current administration has higher approval ratings among our allies than the Bush Administration had. She also blames the President for problems (e.g., Syria) that are difficult to solve given a lack of agreement across the international community.
“To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy. …
I know too that it has not always been easy – though it has been rewarding – to speak up for those who would otherwise be without a voice – the religious dissident in China; the democracy advocate in Venezuela; the political prisoner in Iran. … Again an insinuation that administration did not speak up enough and that a Republican administration would have done more.
And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.
This insinuates that the President is leading from behind and reluctant to lead at all, lacks values and will foster chaos. Because she merely insinuates, she doesn’t have justify her arguments with evidence.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality — that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked. They know what needs to be done."
Next, the former Secretary of State uses the tactic of fear-mongering. She claims the country is not safe in President Obama’s hands.
“Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength. Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s hands.”
Next, she claimed that the President is allowing China’s economy to overwhelm us by not negotiating free trade agreements.
“We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad. In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration. If you are concerned about China’s rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more. Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.”
Even conservative news authorities found her facts misleading or weak on China and free trade. Her comments assume that the President hasn’t supported free trade agreements and that such agreements are always advantageous when that’s not the case.
Next, she insinuates that President Obama hasn’t opened energy reserves when he’s actually continued Bush administration policies in this respect.
“We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp. We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment. And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.”
Next, she blames the President for the national debt. However, most of that debt was incurred during the Bush administration that she was a part of.
“They see a government that continues to borrow money, mortgaging the future of generations to come. The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny. That is not the America that has inspired others to follow our lead.”
Next, she repeats several common Republican talking points that attack those who argue that safety nets are ethical or useful for the country. For example, she describes social security as an entitlement program. However, entitlement suggests that people only feel like they deserve money when in reality people pay for their social security through FICA. Her comments also ignores the problems associated with gross wealth inequalities. For example, one family in the U.S. has more money that the bottom thirty percent of families have in the United States.
“Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success.”
Next, she makes a classic fear-mongering statement.
“But the American ideal is indeed endangered today. There is no country, no not even a rising China, that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we fail to accomplish the tasks before us here at home.”
Next, she argues that President Obama has weakened educational standards set up by Bush Administration under No Child Left Behind.
“We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise. And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights struggle of our day. "
However, No Child Left Behind was a failure. That is, during the Bush years, U.S. rankings in education fell(pdf).
Next, she returns to some rather dramatic fear-mongering.
“If we do anything less, we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness and dependence on the government dole. To do anything less is to endanger our global economic competitiveness. To do anything less is to tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement a turn toward grievance and entitlement. …
That is why this is a moment – an election – of consequence. Because it just has to be – that the most compassionate and freest country on the face of the earth – will continue to be the most powerful!"
Some people will trust arguments that rely on insinuation and fear-mongering if they trust the source. Unfortunately, when politicians use these strategies they are frequently not consistent with the facts. Instead of attempting to reason with their audience, they are simply telling them what to believe. The media tends to ignore this sort of bias. However, it appears that the former Secretary of State’s speech was just as misleading as Paul Ryan.
You can read the full text of her speech here.
Would the liberals have missed these inconsistencies in Rice’s statements was on the ticket?
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