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Subject: Arianna and Obama's bin Laden ad


Arianna Huffington said President Obama's ad about killing Bin Laden was despicable,
then wrote on why she said that.  While I agree that, as Arianna puts it, "who is more macho"
is not a good way to pick a president, she is missing an important point.  She relates Obama's
ad to Hillary Clinton's "3 a.m." ad targeting Obama four years ago, Chambliss's ad juxtaposing
Max Cleland with Osama Bin Laden, and a 2004 anti-Kerry attack ad asking if we could trust
him to defend us from terrorists.

What Arianna has wrong is that those three attacks were ad hominem -- attacking a person. 
Hillary's ad was closest to reality, especially since it didn't go after a specific person; the case
could be made that it was lauding her experience rather than denigrating others'.  Chambliss's ad
was just a lying piece of crap, attacking a veteran who lost three limbs defending the US as not
being patriotic.  The anti-Kerry ad was "justified" by Kerry's votes to reduce waste in the defense
budget; the claim was, if you vote to cut defense, you must not want to defend.

Obama's ad does three things.  First, it extols Obama's courage.  Second, it shows that he is
neither soft on defense nor soft on terrorists.  Third, it brings up Romney's statements that going
after bin Laden would not be worth it, and uses this to point out that, if Romney were to stand by
his statements, he would not have done so.  In other words, the only attack part of the ad is the
attack on Romney's position, as he has stated, not on his person.  As another example, Romney
was against the bailout of US auto manufacturers; if there were an ad attacking him for this,
and pointing out that both auto companies that got the bailout are now profitable--but Romney
would have let them die and send more jobs overseas--would Arianna call that "despicable" as well?

I guess it's just too "nuanced" to see the difference between an unjustified ad hominem attack
and an attack on a stated position -- it's easier to see any ad with an attack--no matter how small
a part of the ad is the attack--as an attack ad, and condemn it.  I think this shows more of a
problem with Arianna's analytical skills than anything else.  Too bad, she usually does a pretty good job.



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