Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seasonal Absurdity

I noticed that there seems to be more silliness floating around in the air than usual. Then I looked out the window and figured out why this was happening--we're in a year whose Gregorian number is divisible by four.

(Now, I know that what I'm about to talk about is old news, but I've got other stuff to do than blog, and the absurdity is--I don't know [sigh]--the absurdity is timeless.)

So Wesley Clark says about John McCain, "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war." And then he says, "He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not." So then Bob Schieffer says neither has Barack Obama, and Obama hasn't "ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down." And then Clark says, he says, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." So then Admiral Leighton "Snuffy" Smith says [Ed Absurdum at this point in the joke is struggling hard to keep her composure] [update, January 28, 2010: I was still using the pseudonym "Ed Absurdum" when this was originally written], "If Barack Obama wants to question John McCain's service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates."

Hwah hwah hwah hwah [snork snork] heeheeheeheehee.

Excuse me [wipes away tears].

Now, I know the best way to ruin a joke is to explain it, but since this is an educational blog [starting to giggle again], I'm going to explain it anyway.

Where to start? Well, OK, first we note that Clark didn't "question John McCain's service to his country." This is a straw man attack. Perhaps more importantly, Clark's statement--that getting shot down in a fighter plane is not a qualification to be president--is true. Many people other than McCain have had that experience. While we may honor their service, most of us, probably including McCain and Smith, would agree that most of them aren't qualified to be president.

We find arguments like this in scholarly work all the time. Rolling our eyes isn't enough (although it's hard to avoid.) We need to query it.

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