Obama's strawmen finally noticed by the press

How many times have we heard the president set up a strawman only to knock it down with ease in order to sell one of his policies?

Too often to count. The president has populated a virtual field of scarecrows with his rhetoric and finally, someone is calling him out on it.

Surprisingly, that someone is Helene Cooper of the New York Times:

To listen to President Obama, a veritable army of naysayers has invaded Washington, urging him to sit on his hands at the White House and do nothing to address any of the economic or national security problems facing the country."There are those who say these plans are too ambitious, that we should be trying to do less, not more," Mr. Obama told a town-hall-style meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif., on March 18. "Well, I say our challenges are too large to ignore."

Mr. Obama did not specify who, exactly, was saying America should ignore its challenges.

Similarly, the next day in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama took on Wall Street and Washington, two of his favorite straw men. "I know some folks in Washington and on Wall Street are saying we should just focus on their problems," Mr. Obama said. "It would be nice if I could just pick and choose what problems to face, when to face them. So I could say, well, no, I don't want to deal with the war in Afghanistan right now; I'd prefer not having to deal with climate change right now. And if you could just hold on, even though you don't have health care, just please wait, because I've got other things to do."

Former Nixon speechwriter Bill Safire is familiar with the practice and identifies the rhetorical trick; "Take your opponent's argument to a ridiculous extreme, and then attack the extremists." He added, "That leaves the opponent to sputter defensively, ‘But I never said that.'

Safire also gave some clues on how to identify when a strawman argument was on the way:

The telltale indicators that a straw man trick is on the way are the introductory words "there are those who say" or "some say."

"In strawmanese, you never specify who ‘those who' are," Mr. Safire said. "They are the hollow scarecrows you set up to knock down."

It is maddening to listen to Obama set these scarecrows up one after another and knock them down, only to be praised by the MSM for his courage for making "the tough choices."

Let's see if some other media outlets pick up the theme of Obama's strawmen and run with it.