The Powerline blog has an incisive piece that’s worth reading on the astonishing disconnect from reality displayed by President Obama’s new 2012 budget proposal, and his comments on it at a subsequent press conference:
President Obama, with a breathtaking disregard for the facts, claimed that under his FY 2012 budget, the federal budget would no longer be running a deficit as of the middle of the decade… This is not a debatable point. This is a screen shot of page 171 of the Obama administration’s FY 2012 budget proposal. I have highlighted the row titled “Deficit.” You will see that Obama’s budget runs a huge deficit every year from now through 2021. [Link added]
Commentators so far seem to be torn between two (equally frightening) speculations on this: that the administration is simply clueless on the actual facts of the budget and doesn’t understand the numbers, or is being deliberately dishonest in how it presents them to the American people.
Regrettably, I lean toward the latter. This looks to me like a textbook example of a rhetorical technique that I often observed, and then named, many years ago in Usenet debates during the 1990s. I call it the Emperor’s New Clothes Gambit. It consists of brazenly offering a rationally indefensible assertion with exaggerated (and faked) self-confidence, in the hope that others without knowledge or confidence about their position will be intimidated by that tone and fail to challenge it. It’s related to (and something of a cross between) what Ayn Rand identified as the Argument from Intimidation and a scaled-down version of the “Big Lie” propaganda technique, particularly in its attempt to prey upon the reader’s or listener’s self-doubt and ignorance. That’s why I decided to name this post “The Emperor’s New Clothes Gambit, Take 1″ — and “Take 1,” unfortunately, because I anticipate the need for many more such takes in our foreseeable political future.
In any event it’s heartening to see this nonsense being challenged, for example by Senator Sessions in the following video clip:
“So I don’t think it’s a little bitty matter. I don’t think it’s subject to gentleman’s disagreement. I don’t think it’s subject to anything other than black and white — yes or no — is that an accurate statement or not? It’s not true.”