Parallel GOP Universes: Hyperbolic and Counter-Intuitive Myths, Claims and Canards, September 4, 2013

1. The GOP, split over our next move in Syria, continues to produce some furious attempts at Politiscripting the moment. In this case, Eric Erickson of Red State manages a triple word score: likening Obama to a homeless schizophrenic, an “effete liberal ninnie”, and the destroyer of the US military. Thus “effete” makes its return to the rhetorical stage, having last been the main rhetorical battering ram of Spiro Agnew:

A strike now is nothing more than the President trying to salvage credibility he dithered away over several years of ignoring Syria to focus on Libya only to see it blow up in his face. Striking now in an act of war the President refuses to call an act of war and making it known that the act is designed to hurt, but not end, the Assad regime, is an effete response only a liberal ninny could come up with….This Administration’s foreign and military policies make all the sense of a homeless schizophrenic off his meds running down the Washington Mall. They make even less sense when coupled with Administration rhetoric on the sequestration making it impossible for the military to do anything with the military….Words mean things and this Administration has yet to seriously put honest words together to explain what it intends and desires.

2. From Tea Party LaLaLand, a Tennessee state representative manages an even more impressive rhetorical flourish, linking the potential bombing of Syria with every failed GOP attempt to “scandal”-monger:

Tennessee state representative Joe Carr (R.), who is mounting a tea-party challenge against incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), also cited a lack of trust in explaining his opposition to military intervention. “This is an administration that has been cloaked in secrecy since [Obama’s] first inauguration,” he told National Review Online, before reeling off a list of administration scandals — NSA spying, IRS targeting, Fast and Furious, Benghazi. “We can’t get a straight answer out of the president. I don’t believe we’re getting accurate information out of the president now, and I don’t believe we should go to war because he drew an arbitrary red line.” The White House has yet to provide a compelling national-interest argument for intervention, which the vast majority of Tennesseans oppose, he added.

3. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) upped the ante even more with a truly-inspired piece of hyperbole, virtually calling Obama’s looming bombing of Syria a treasonous act, turning the US military into “Al Qaeda’s air force”:

“Nobody wants to see another Benghazi in Syria, and that’s really the fear, isn’t it?” Pags wondered.

“That’s exactly right,” Cruz agreed. “But there’s a broader problem. This administration, when it conducts foreign policy, it doesn’t do so based on U.S. national security interests… It appears what the president is pressing for is essentially protecting his public relations because he drew a red line, and essentially the bluff was called.”

“We’re not going to resolve the tensions over there and the last thing we ought to be doing is sending our sons and daughters into harm’s way to get into the middle of this sectarian civil war,” he added. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America.”

“That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to — as you know — you know, serve as Al-Qaeda’s air force.”

4. The American Spectator also piles on, astonishingly linking a Syrian missile strike with abortion:

The justification for this war, from the vantage point of vital American interests, is nil. It makes about as much sense as Assad announcing that he will launch military strikes on the U.S. because Obama supports the killing of over a million unborn babies a year.

It is sad to see Republicans like Boehner join in this phony harrumphing about evil abroad. Fix your own country. Address America’s moral evils. Pols who can’t stop chemical abortions in America won’t stop chemical bombing in Syria.

5.  In a classic “they don’t know what’s good for them” moment, Richard Epstein of the libertarian Hoover Institute ridicules the “living wage” campaign of Bill de Blasio in NYC. After all, Epstein modestly proposes, who ever said that a person’s wages should amount to “anything they can live on”?

What is characteristic about these and other similar attempts is how little effort they make to understand anything about the underlying principle. For example, de Blasio’s stunt makes it appear that the test of a good minimum wage law is whether people can live on that salary. In so doing, he ignores all the non-pecuniary benefits that a job can give people: exposure to business, professional skills, networking, and the like. College seniors are eagerly seeking unpaid internships to gain experience in the work force. Why deny that opportunity to those from less privileged backgrounds who must contend with unemployment rates of 41.6 percent in the case of black teenagers aged 16 to 19?

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