The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The False Dilemma Fallacy: Mitt or Newt? The Devil or the Deep Blue Sea?

Posted on | January 24, 2012 | 49 Comments

Jeff Foxworthy says that, as a Southerner, the minute you open your mouth, people deduct 15 points from your IQ score.

It’s a joke that’s funny because it’s so true. People automatically associate Southern accents with stereotypical backwoods hicks, and so I’ve spent my whole life being underestimated by Yankee smart-asses who think they know everything.

Did you know that, in college, I aced a class called Principles of Logic? It was taught by a psychology professor, an elective to fulfill a graduation requirement. I took it during my second sophomore year — when I’d returned to Jax State after taking a year off after nearly partying my way out of school in 1979 — and for some reason Principles of Logic was just as easy as pie for me. Some of my fellow students struggled, but I cruised straight through to an A.

One of the things the class required was to memorize all the various fallacies, the invalid forms of argument which — if unrecognized as such — can easily persuade you to accept an unproven conclusion.

Like many other classic fallacies, the false dilemma is commonplace in political argument, and we’ve seen a lot of it in this year’s GOP primary campaign. Advocates of one particular candidate insist that theirs is the only Republican who can beat Obama, and ergo — that’s a fancy Latin word us rednecks aren’t supposed to know, although I studied Latin in high school — any Republican who doesn’t support their candidate is actually working to re-elect Obama.

After so many months of making these bullshit arguments, some people actually start to believe their own bogus rhetoric, which is the only possible explanation for this:

ANDREA MITCHELL: “I talked to a top Romney adviser tonight who said, ‘Look, if Mitt Romney can not win here in Florida then we’re going to have to try to reinvent the smoke-filled room which has been democratized by all these primaries. And we’re going to have try to come with someone as an alternative to Newt Gingrich who could be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, someone.’ Because there is such a desperation by the so-called party elites, but that’s exactly what Gingrich is playing against.”

Dear “Top Romney Adviser”: Is it really an either-or choice between Mitt and Newt? Could it be that there’s someone out there you’ve forgotten about? Which is to say, BUY YOURSELF A SWEATER VEST — and stop pretending like you damned Yankee smart-asses have a monopoly on intelligence. You may fool Andrea Mitchell with that bogus rhetoric, but you sure as hell ain’t fooling me.


49 Responses to “The False Dilemma Fallacy: Mitt or Newt? The Devil or the Deep Blue Sea?”

  1. richard mcenroe
    January 24th, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    OK, first off, Andrea and all the little Gingrinches, the FIRST thing Newt is going to do the second he thinks he can convince the RNC he isn’t going to self-destruct is cut a deal with them and screw the base.  So false dilemma or not, there IS no choice here.

  2. Rmminor1
    January 24th, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

    It doesn’t matter how intelligently you argue the way of the Republican or against common southern fallacies (that southern folk are slow, and the like).  The fact is the majority of views held by Republicans are wrong.  

    As someone who claims to be a Democrat I would say the problem is that by having a dominate two-party system, the environment makes issues polar.  If you don’t agree with one side, it therefore means you must agree with the other. This is in agreement with the view you posted on the False Dilemma Strategy.  

    The government is flawed because it is based on the strategy you just outlined. 

  3. GAHCindy
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    15? Maybe if you’re average. I get a good 45 or 50 taken off. And then I mention I’m a housewife, which puts me down in the profoundly retarded range. 😉

  4. Adjoran
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

    If you believe one single word out of Andrea Mitchell’s mouth then all the “logic” classes in the world won’t help you.   (It’s called a “false premise” if memory serves – but I’m old school and believe logic belongs in the math department and anything in the Psych department is squishy pseud0-knowledge offered only so even the dumbest jocks won’t flunk out).    She is not doing anything but attempting to divide Republicans more than we already are.  She has a long history of such behavior. 

    Don’t believe me – you can look it up.

    But if the RGA is serious about talking up Daniels, I’m listening.  Anything to spare us a Gingrich disaster.  You don’t need to be an “A” student to know you don’t nominate the guy the swing voters already hate, the one guy who can wake up all those disillusioned leftists to take up arms one more time, the one guy who has been disliked by the American people more and for longer than any other political figure.

  5. Adjoran
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

    They have room for you in Venezuela, Fidel.

  6. Adjoran
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Try New York City.  They thinks it is remarkable that we can dress ourselves and everything.

  7. richard mcenroe
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Just smile, say “Bless your heart,” and take their money. The best revenge, based on my experience, is overcharging a smartass NYer.

  8. richard mcenroe
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    If you watch all the classic war movies and TV shows, the typical GI supply Sgt/Hustler was a fast-talking big city boy,  

    This is because they were written by big city boys.

    If you were ever in the services, you know the wiliest, craftiest, sneakiest grifters and hustlers and empire builders were ALWAYS them slow-soundin’ Southren boys…

  9. ThePaganTemple
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    I told you a long time ago, in just about these exact words-

    Mitt or Newt. Get ready to make your choice.

    That’s the way it was then.

    That’s the way it is now.

  10. Dan Collins
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

    Why be defensive?  Do you want the respect of idiots? Why would anyone who knows anything about Americans think that Southerners are stupid?

    Don’t they live where it’s warmer?

  11. Rmminor1
    January 24th, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    Fidel?  Don’t you mean Chavez?  Or did Cuba and Venezuela unite when I wasn’t looking?

    Any way I am a capitalist by nature and it doesn’t take a socialist (or a dictator if that was what you were meaning)  to see that our electoral and government processes need a revamp.  Or do you think its alright that half of our country always thinks the other half are idiots?

  12. Anonymous
    January 24th, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

    In the after-debate hash-over no name beside those of Mitt and Newt was mentioned. And this after Santorum gave a good performance. My theory is that these simple NBC minds can only comprehend a two horse race.

  13. DeborahL
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    Wow, Rmminor1, that sure is a big blanket. Would be nice if you listed how you feel Republicans are wrong.

    Revamping the electorial process won’t stop people from thinking that other people are idots.

    I was a liberal Democrat, and will never be again. Learning to critical think helped a great deal. Dennis Prager is a great influence.

  14. DeborahL
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

    With 47 states yet to go, I disagree. I will keep supporting Rick Santorum, thank you very much.

  15. DeborahL
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    We don’t have to let it be that way.  There are 47 states left. Personally, I back Santorum. Everyone should see the video of his presentation & Q/A at the San Fernando Valley Republicans. (HT to Richard McEnroe, Three Beers Later blog)

  16. ThePaganTemple
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

    Just remember who it was who told you the way it is.

  17. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 12:33 am

    One of the problems with the USA is our media is filled with dishonest, left-wing idiots. Because they have a big microphone we have to waste time talking about what Andrea Mitchell said. We do this because someone in charge of the News department of the government granted monopoly called “NBC” hired her.

    Seriously, does anyone think that if Ms. Mitchell (aka Ms. Greenspan) was a blogger – like our RS McCain – anyone would read her?  Does anyone think she’s on a Nation-wide TV show because she’s smarter or knows more than R.S. McCain?

    But we must talk about her because she’s on TV.  So, here is my two cents.  While its 50/50 whether Andrea is lying or not, its just the kind of thing you’d expect a Romney aide to say.  The “establishment” never gives up.  If  Mitt tanks, they WILL find another candidate.  They don’t want  Paul, Gringrich, or Santorum and they will fight to the death to keep them from being nominated.

  18. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:08 am

    Santorum might very well be the best pick the GOP could make from a standpoint of fixing the party.

    His Mondale 1984 reprise would probably be the end of the religious right and the social conservatives as a major power bloc within the party, which in turn might allow it to get past the most lost of the lost battles (Know-Nothingism, preserving marriage apartheid, a speculum in every cop’s holster, etc.) enough to stay viable for another election cycle or two.

  19. Adjoran
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:14 am

    do you think its alright that half of our country always thinks the other half are idiots?

    No, I think it’s a gross underestimate.

  20. Adjoran
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:16 am

    The same guy who told us to support Bachmann?

  21. Adjoran
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:17 am

    “Draft Daniels:  Let The Healing Begin”

  22. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:21 am

    Your cheerful optimism is deeply appreciated, Tom.

  23. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 1:38 am

    I’m just a happy-go-lucky guy, I guess 😉

  24. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 2:55 am

    BTW,  one of the weirdest things about the intertubes is that Liberals always charge on Conservative blogs to give their opinion about what’s best for Republicans or Conservatives. 

    In fact, Liberals just can’t shut up. They’re always either whining about Fox (1 network out of 6) or sneering at Palin/Gingrich/Mitt or screeching about the “Religious Right”. 

    The reason of course, is that many Liberals are mentally ill or lonely bitter Gays, or cranks and loons. That’s why they just have to give us their opinion on conservative/Republican Politics, even though no Republican or Conservative gives a shit.

  25. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 5:33 am

    Agreed.  Rick Santorum is delaying the inevitable, especially if he winds up third or fourth in Florida.  This notion that there are an army of evangelical voters in western Michigan, a notion george F. Will suggested Mike Huckabee was counting on in 2008, is as fanciful as the crusaders searching for Prester John.     

  26. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 6:36 am

    What’s that got to do with anything? Did you ever see me say I thought Bachmann actually had more than an outside chance, at best?

  27. Bob Belvedere
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:22 am

    ‘Gross’ in many respects.

  28. Bob Belvedere
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:25 am

    That video brought me over to his side.

  29. Bob Belvedere
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:25 am

    Does this mean I owe Richard a favor?  ‘Cause I really don’t want to – help.

  30. Frederick Hopkins
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:27 am

    Don’t forget the -25 points for being conservative for a total deduction of 40 IQ points.

  31. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    Actually Michigan is a strategy I would strongly suggest to him if I could talk to him, but he needs to go there now, ahead of the others, and work his ass off, and hope there are a significant number of rank-and-file union members who both could and would vote for him, as well as evangelicals.

    If he would do that, he might actually have an outside shot at pulling a major upset. But he’s clearly wasting his time in Florida, and when its over he’ll be left with nothing. Winning Iowa is all well and good but people aren’t going to continue to contribute money and time to a candidate who continually comes in a distant third.

  32. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 7:35 am

    What would he heal, insomnia?

  33. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    That is a highly optimistic strategy.  Mike Huckabee came in third behind Mitt Romney and John McCain back in 2008.  Unless there has been a big power shift among Republicans, I cannot see Rick Santorum doing any better than third himself.

  34. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    ” any Republican who doesn’t support their candidate is actually working to re-elect Obama.”

    And Adjoran is Exhibit 1 through 1,000,000.

  35. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    It’s not highly optimistic, its a third down and ten at the twenty yard line at the far end of the field at the two minute warning. And the score is 10-3. Difficult, but not impossible.

  36. Tennwriter
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:21 am

    I suspect a lot of the sneerers are playing a Mean Girl game.

  37. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:22 am

    You’re only half right. It’s the left who thinks the GOP are idiots. Speaking just for nobody but myself, I don’t think Democrats are idiots, I just think they’re fucking traitors, and have ever since the aftermath of 9/11. And so far, no one on the left has done anything to convince me otherwise.

  38. Pathfinder's wife
    January 25th, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    Meh, try being an Italian/Welsh/Creole/Jewish/Indian (with the feathers) American stuck right in the middle of where Scots-Irish Appalachia coal mines and German American upper midwest dirt farm collide…talk about having to live by your wits (and always be considered stupid by somebody…even the truly illiterate, dunderheaded ones…who are usually 100% from Chicago).

    And I even have the mixed up accent to prove it to.

    Gingrich and Mitt are both not inevitable — a quick look at their favorables shows that.  But they are both the frontrunners, and herein lies their dilemna: they have to go at each other, because they are the only “inevitable” ones (the only ones the GOP could possibly pick).
    Santorum (and Paul) might actually be in a good spot, running 3 and 4) in Florida — Newtomny and Mittrich are going to land body blows on themselves…and on the GOP establishment (and some GOP punditry who seem to be a whole lot more sugared up to the establishment than they like to let on.

  39. Pathfinder's wife
    January 25th, 2012 @ 11:09 am

    Oh, and I forgot: a shout out to my once Amish heritage: when some of those Amish boys do their going off the reservation, they really go off the reservation.
    There’s probably a lesson somewhere in that.

  40. Rmminor1
    January 25th, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    I think I am not understanding your point.  Maybe you can explain it to someone who is a little less sophisticated and needs it written out in plain english.

  41. Rmminor1
    January 25th, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

    I beg the differ, I have many family members and friends who are well educated and vote Republican, they think I am just as idiotic as I think they are.  I know we have had the arguments.  

  42. ThePaganTemple
    January 25th, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

    I don’t know about a lesson, but there’s got to be a damn good movie there.

  43. Pathfinder's wife
    January 25th, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

    Come on, it’s clear as mud: sometimes you need to go off the rez to get things done…only in America are you allowed to do so 😉

  44. Pathfinder's wife
    January 25th, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    Come on, it’s clear as mud: sometimes you need to go off the rez to get things done…only in America are you allowed to do so 😉

  45. Tennwriter
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    Only Vodkapundit is allowed to post after drinking the whole bottle of Stoli, Knappster.

  46. Tennwriter
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

    Only Vodkapundit is allowed to post after drinking the whole bottle of Stoli, Knappster.

  47. Anonymous
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

    Vodkapundit’s a lightweight.

  48. Tennwriter
    January 25th, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

    What does Daniels stand for?  I’m not a serious wonkhead, but I’d say I know a lot more than the avg. joe….And I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.  Could w/ Gingrich, Santorum, Mittens…Paul Ryan….

  49. ThePaganTemple
    January 26th, 2012 @ 6:19 am

    I don’t trust anybody the establishment GOP tries to push, and that includes Ryan. As for Daniels, he is a fiscon who said the GOP should not dwell on social issues. It wasn’t but about two or three weeks ago the GOP floated the tired old Jeb Bush trial balloon, now they’re back to Daniels again. I guess here in a couple of weeks they’ll be trying to promote the liberal, gun control freak Chris Christie again. If Mitt Romney loses Florida especially, just wait and see if they don’t.