Skip to comments.A Conversation Between Ann Coulter & Al Franken (Franken's "gotcha" debating style)
Posted on 12/18/2009 10:37:12 AM PST by GOP_Resurrected
Sorry for the vanity folks, but I stumbled across this video last night. It's a couple years old, before Al Franken was shaming the state of Minnesota as a Senator. An excerpt from a public forum featuring he and Ann Coulter, I think this so perfectly encapsulates Franken's weaselly methods in his attempts to smear conservatives as "liars," that it deserved addressing. Please take a few minutes to watch. Then, take a minute to read the ACTUAL ARTICLE by Thomas Friedman in question, and come back for my commentary.
Now, did you notice what Franken did there? He started in with his blanket assertion that we on the right incessantly lie, distort, misrepresent, etc. To set the stage he points to "my bag." A pretty good-sized bag, which he implies is just chock-full of documentation of conservative deceit. Effective prop, I suppose.
Next, he suggests the Coulter book is so shot-through with falsehoods, he can spot one almost immediately. He chooses a passage from the book which, in discussing terrorism and airport security immediately after 9/11, ascribes two points of view to Friedman: 1.) that Friedman called racial profiling "uncivilized," and 2.) Friedman refuses to single out Muslims as terrorist threats, instead offering the P.C. truism that all religions are equally dangerous, and that we need to be on guard against, "religious extremists of any stripe."
Now, if you read the Friedman piece, you will see that both the title and first couple of paragraphs are clearly tongue-in-cheek, making the ludicrous suggestion that we fly naked as the only way to be sure no passenger is armed, thus avoiding the mother of all liberal sins, "racial profiling." Franken then reads these first couple of satirical paragraphs, the clear implication that Coulter snatched her quote and the assertion based on it out of a joke, then attempted to pass it off as serious argument. Franken's lemmings in the audience proceed to steadily break out into laughter and cheers, as the seeming "gotcha" moment unfolds.
But, slow down and parse this. As a matter of pure logic and evidence, what did Franken actually accomplish in reading the text that he did? Did he rebut the core assertions Ann was making - that Friedman called profiling "uncivilized" and that terrorism is multi-denominational - in any way? No! Ann's argument was an entirely correct interpretation of Friedman's views, AND the left-wing consensus, on both of those questions. Franken then, in reading the small section of the piece he did, added JUST ENOUGH context to it for the casual listener to make Coulter sound ridiculous and misleading without actually proving that she's wrong!
I offer this as an example of how talented Franken is at the very same thing he accuses us of doing. Look, Ann Coulter is no more infallible than you, I, Limbaugh, or anyone on our side. Anyone with strong philosophical biases occasionally misreads and offers evidence in a way beneficial to their own case, And occasionally, it takes a less biased observer to point out the mistake.
But Franken traffics in this stuff. He's built his entire post-"entertainment" career (if I can be so charitable) on calling conservatives "liars" and mental deficients. And he's very good at it.
I can sit at the comfort of my desk from afar, and, hopefully shed some light on the fact that his methods in doing so are, by and large, more underhanded than anything his enemies are guilty of.
Al Franken referring to conservatives as mental deficient - now, that’s a laugh. After watching the video of his treatment of Sen. Lieberman I think the jury is in. Franken is a mental midget.
“The URL contained a malformed video ID.” So sayth U Tube. Check your link.
I’m sorry, please click here, or at the link at the top.
The hostility in the Senate is palpable.
What’s funny is that Lieberman really is one of them on most things. Al Franken just ate one of his own. I hope the indigestion puts him in the hospital.
Excellent analysis of Franken’s style. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
Far too few people nowadays are able (thanks to failure of our educational system) to exercise critical thinking skills. What you did is not (forgive me) “rocket science” but is primarily application of common sense and good listening skills. I’ll bet we could teach the average 4th grader to do similar analysis of arguments and speech in less than an hour, and they could provide more insightful and accurate analysis of current events than most of the talking heads we see on national news networks.
To the point of Al Franken, I find it useful to remember that he is, no matter how it pains me to admit it, an intelligent and educated man (based on the fact that you can’t be too stupid to graduate with honors from Harvard). He also spent his formative career as a writer, specializing in political humor, then turned to acting and the comedy stuff we remember from SNL and since. Point being, he knows how to structure a compelling story, no matter whether it’s based on actual logic or just designed to elicit a laugh. There’s very much a method to his madness and he used his skills effectively to get elected and in situations like this, where I think most fair observers (who don’t just reflexively defend Ann) would say he “won” the debate.
It’s easier to defeat a buffoon that a smart person who just acts like one.
Thank you for the compliment. Franken is very much like Media Matters in his methods. He’s hyper-pedantic, and attempts to manufacture “lies” by simply offering a counterpoint to a conservative argument, then pretending the counterpart is an obvious slam-dunk rebuttal; hence a right-wing “lie” is exposed. Or absent that, simply quoting the offending the conservative material without any comment at all, as if it’s so self-evidently absurd and false, that it doesn’t NEED rebutting.
But unlike Media Matters, he’s actually good at it.
cum laude is typically only a high-B average. And in political science.
No "rocket surgeon" there.
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