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McClellan and Ad Hominem Attacks

2008-05-30

Category: politics

You have probably heard of Scott McClellan's new tell-all book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington". In it, he is extremely critical of the Bush administration and says they were particularly naughty when trying to take the country to war with Iraq. To many people it is a surprise that he would say such things because he was the White House Press Secretary at the time and an avid supporter of Bush.

Overall, I don't care about the book one way or the other. Everyone already has an opinion on whether Bush was unethical or just stupid. Likewise, I don't care what McClellan is doing lately. If he wants to make money by writing a book that is controversial enough to sell well, that's between him and his publisher.

What does bother me is the way people are attacking the book. Watching various news programs and listening to various pundits have shown a serious pattern of Ad Hominem attacks. They talk about how he can't be believed because he has changed sides. There is a logical fallacy there.

Don't get me wrong; it is ok to suggest that McClellan is a snake for turning sides and making a buck on the deal. Many people would consider that unethical. (Again, I don't care.) However, that is different that claiming that what he says in untrue. That is a separate argument.

I don't know if the material in the book is true or not (don't care). The important thing to remember is that McClellan being scum doesn't have anything to whether his current statements are valid. We know by the fact that he has made two contradictory statements that one statement must be false and that makes him a liar. Which statement was the lie? That's hard to say without greater proof.

Of course, there is a simple quote that McClellan could use to lessen the impact of a change of heart. When Gandhi was challenged because what he was saying was different from something he said previously, he said something like, "My dedication is to truth, not consistency." That dude was considered wise and stuff, so it has to be good to quote him.

Anyway, I don't think McClellan is saying anything in his book that other people haven't already said. In the big scheme of things the book will only put a little more money in a publisher's pocket and not much else. It just really annoys me when people who should be educated enough to know better go on national television and spout off a bunch of logical fallacies.


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