Sunday, July 09, 2006

Extreme Debating

I propose the liberal community start engaging in some extreme debating. What's extreme debating, you may ask? Well, it's a technique seen often among conservative pundits and assorted administration talking heads. It involves taking your opponent's argument and distorting it to the most extreme end so it sounds ridiculous. It's very effective, though misleading, ridiculous, and ultimately not productive in creating a dialogue that might yield a solution. The end result is to create the impression that your opponent is advocating something so proposterous that only a handful of idiots could agree with it. Of course, the opponent never even approached that conclusion. But that doesn't matter.

One example is when someone argues that we should bring the troops home now. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this doesn't mean they want to use our Star Trek technology and have all the troops in Iraq one moment and bam!, the next moment they're beamed home. In fact, Murtha's plan would keep some troops on the ground indefinitely to try to respond to any national emergencies. And logistically, it would take months to bring home all the troops. Yet that didn't stop Norah O'Donnell from asking Cindy Sheehan if she wanted to take our planes over to Iraq and bring home all the troops tomorrow. Even someone like Cindy Sheehan isn't advocating that. The argument is that we need to come up with a plan to return our troops to America while leaving Iraq as safe as possible. Basically, it's asking to assess the benefits of our remaining in Iraq against the costs associated with us staying there.

The flipside is we need to stay until we win. Well, what exactly is victory? I know the line is a free and stable Iraq that can govern and protect itself, but how do we know when that occurs. How long is that exactly? Even an approximate timing would help, within 5 years. Bush has already stated we'll be there throughout his presidency. So here's what I'm proposing - liberals start framing this POV as people who advocate staying in Iraq for the next 100 years and want to make Iraq the 51st state. Sure, it's a ridiculous POV and dishonest, but no more than asking if those who want the troops to come home would fly planes over to Iraq if they could and bring every single troop home tomorrow.

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