What is the word for getting verbose when losing an argument?

See the end of this comment section for an example. It is now quite clear that Bush et al never claimed a threat from Iraq was imminent; that people who hold up or endorse signs that say “Bush lied. People died” are deluded, that there appears to be an active campaign by Bush opponents to mislead the public about Bush’s case for war, and that this campaign has been doing damage not only to the Bush but also to the US as a whole.

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7 Responses to What is the word for getting verbose when losing an argument?

  1. ooghe says:

    sigh. stand by- I am a bit busy today, but will rise to this baiting entry soon.

    My orginal question was what you felt that establishing that Bush never uttered the phrase “Iraq is an imminent threat” meant in terms of the collapse of broad support for the Iraq War.

    While indeed, anyone who claims Bush used those words would be dishonest, you had asked Josh for a “single quote” coming from the Bush Administration that suggested that invading Iraq was of the utmost immediate necessity because it was a threat. I provided around thirty. Your rebuttal was simply “Those were all taken out of context”. Ah. Of course. They imply that the administration was wrong, therefore all of them must be out of context, and Americans are stupid. Touche.

    In the meantime:

    Who made the initial statement “The case that Bush made for war was wrong, in that while Iraq *was* a threat, it was not an *imminent* one”?

    The first I heard of this “imminence” verbiage was from Cheney on Washington Week in Review. I am curious to whom he was responding to, just as I was curious who Bush was responding to when he said that many of his critics believed ‘brown skinned people couldn’t run a democracy’, but that he respectfully, in the name of his boundless faith in humanity, disagreed.

  2. Robert, are you saying it is appropriate to take quotations out of context to mean something other than what the speaker was saying or are you saying that they weren’t in fact taken out of context?

    Scott Mclellan gave a press conference in which he talked about the US’ NATO obligations in the case of an imminent threat to Turkey (not necessarily that there was an imminent threat even to Turkey). You took a single sentece out of context and implied that he was claiming that Iraq actively was an imminent threat to the United States.

    To me, that is simply intellectually dishonest.

    Rumsfeld gave an interview in which he restated the Administrations case for war; that we don’t know if Iraq is an imminent threat cannot wait until we are certain. You said he was claiming Iraq was certainly an imminent threat.

    That too strikes me as dishonest.

    And, if you take the last sentence and claim I was talking about a quotation from the Bush administration, that too would be dishonest.

  3. ooghe says:

    What I am saying is this: Like you, I am interested in subjecting the policy that led to the Iraq War and it’s repercussions to scrutiny, and the first question you ask is ‘what was the case that Bush presented for war’. You point to qualifications made in the SOTU (and at other points) that you feel demonstrate that the Bush Administration adequately anticipated the possibility that no WMD would be found, despite the fact that you do not dispute that Bush expected WMD to be found. Presently, much support for the Iraq War has bled away, and the lack of WMD has been cited as a reason- and you have made your analysis as to why: a premeditated effort to falsely discredit the president hatched by antiwar propagandists (is it fair to call this a conspiracy?) has been put forth in a way that has done tremendous damage to a political base which had adequately understood Bush’s rationale prior to March 2003. Those Americans are now/were either ignorant or stupid, and Bush has been “victimized” by the ignorant, the stupid, the intellectually dishonest and other perpetrators.

    I am less concerned with assessing victimhood, and think that ultimately the only things that matter in the conduct of war are strategic success and failure. As a critique of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I think that your analysis both fails the test of Occam’s Razor and is imprecise so as to result in no particular prescription for the future. First, I do not know who you mean when you say ‘the antiwar crowd’. Do you mean the political movement represented by International A.N.S.W.E.R and its’ coalition of antiwar protestors? If they had had the power to reprogram people’s beliefs about Bush you ascribe to them, then why did they allow the war to take place to begin with? And why were they unable to successfully nominate their candidate of choice, Howard Dean? Surely this should not have been so difficult to accomplish amongst the ignorant and stupid. Is the conspiracy actually the major media outlets? Like the New York Times, which promoted the reportage of Judith Miller? CNN, which frequently underrepported or did not report the antiwar movement at all, and instead debated “Is questioning the war in Iraq Patriotic?” Why was the usually-astute Karl Rove and the rest of the President’s political handlers incapable of anticipating the conspiracy? Surely Bush could have, in your estimation, simply have said to his American supporters early on “We must be prepared for the possibility that we will find no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at all, that in a different kind of war fought against shadowy terrorist networks and the governments that support them, our best efforts will reveal fleeting glimpses, and ambiguous evidence of their intentions. Americans should take comfort in the fact that the long term possibility of threat will have been removed, etc etc”. I am not doubting that there do exist Bush-haters who would propagandize against the president, but you are purporting that these individuals are *entirely* responsible for the political damage suffered by Bush; do you mean that no statement Bush or his advocates in public service made prior to March 2003 could have prevented the impending machinations of the conspiracy? Is that a well-formulated policy in that event?

    In that I think your estimation is wrong, I also point out that you do no favors to people of your own supposed ideological persuasion- Richard Perle sees the biggest political mistake as the failure to immediately install Chalabi as head of state, whereas Douglas Feith seems to think the cause was betrayed by Chalabi. I think that they would agree, empirically, that the public support for the war in Iraq seemed to have followed roughly this trajectory of events:

    1. The Saddam Hussein statue was toppled – public felt this was GOOD
    2. Post-liberation rioting and looting occured – public felt this was UNFORTUNATE BUT EXCUSABLE
    3. Bush gave victory speech on aircraft carrier – public felt this was GOOD
    4. International community did not supply post-war troops – public felt this was AMBIGUOUS
    5. Insurgency grew – perhaps composed of dead-enders – public felt this was AMBIGUOUS
    6. Bush made speech many felt was his worst ever asking for $87 billion dollars – public SWALLOWED HARD AND SAID OKAY
    7. Series of bombings occured – UN offices blown up, Red Cross blown up – public felt this was BAD
    8. Saddam Hussein captured – public felt this was GOOD
    9. Announcement was made that troops would likely remain in force another year or two, but troop levels would decline- public felt this was AMBIGUOUS
    10.Dawning awareness that WMD would perhaps never be found – public felt this was BAD
    11.Four contractors very publically and graphically killed, tending to make Iraqis seem anti-American – public felt this was BAD
    12.Al-Sadr and Fallujah uprisings occur simultaneously, US casualties rise, troop reductions canceled – public felt this was BAD
    13.Abu Ghraib pictures graphically depict Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US soldiers – public felt this was VERY BAD
    14.Nick Berg beheaded – public felt this was BAD
    15.Allegations that Iraqi National Congress supplied bad intelligence, and that they may in fact be in league with Iran – public felt this was VERY BAD
    16.Numerous assassinations, reshufflings of personnel, resignations, vagueries on sovereignty, recriminations, appparent turf war between CIA and DoD, Congressional inquries, endless parade of whistleblowers, etc – public BELIEVES POLICY NEEDS RE-EVALUATION – POLICY AT RISK OF FAILURE

    Note that none of these developments were effected by the antiwar crowd, unless you feel that the conspiracy is so vast it includes those in a position to directly saboutage policy. Maybe you feel the major media outlets should not have reported those developments- and while I agree that probably there was plenty of coverage that was short on substance, I disagree that it was working specifically to discredit the President. Of the thirty some odd quotes from the administration I supplied, you have challenged the context of, I think, one of them, in claiming that the ‘imminent threat’ being referred to was to Turkey, and not the US. Perhaps I am wrong, but my understanding of the NATO Alliance and collective security is that an imminent threat to any alliance member sufficient to invoke Article V would be considered a threat to every member of the alliance, including the US. I still await discussion of the remaining quotes, and your assertion that no *one* listening to them in context could have reasonably formed the expectation that WMD were in Iraq.

    If we conclude that every quote was taken out of context, and that no one of intelligence, cognizance, or un-biased motivation (point to consider: are antiwar libertarians who cite the lack of WMD as a factor in reconsidering acting to propagandize their politics at Bush’s expense?) – then I would next be curious as to whether you felt the political damage done to Bush was inevitable, or if the American public can be approached in such a way as to avoid the conspiracy in the future.

    As for my analysis- I believe that public expectation that WMD existed in Iraq was easily predictable, and that the political toll on Bush stems from the fact that neither Bush nor Karl Rove anticipated the Iraq experience beyond point 4 in my list above.

  4. More verbosity. You’re also changing of the subject. The question on the table was about imminent threat not about Iraqi posession of WMD.
    To connect the issues you need to show:

    1. that the administration made claims of an Iraqi WMD capability that in-and-of-itself would constitute an imminent threat to the US (notwithstanding its observed failure to make such an explicit assertion). Note: in particular, you need to show that this administration’s WMD beliefs/claims were substantially different from Clinton’s.

    2. that the actual claims the administration made in this specific regard are false.

    I think you can do neither. FYI, here text from a letter George Tenet sent to Congress in October 2002:

    “””
    We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade. Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs. Iraq’s increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad’s links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.
    “””
    Is Tenet lying or mistaken?

  5. Just to finish the last post….unless you can show either that the administration claimed imminent threat or made WMD claims that in and of themselves would be equivalent to a claim of imminent threat (and that these claims were misleading), you will have lost the debate about imminent threat.

    Re your stuff that is on topic:
    “””
    Of the thirty some odd quotes from the administration I supplied, you have challenged the context of, I think, one of them, in claiming that the ‘imminent threat’ being referred to was to Turkey, and not the US. Perhaps I am wrong, but my understanding of the NATO Alliance and collective security is that an imminent threat to any alliance member sufficient to invoke Article V would be considered a threat to every member of the alliance, including the US.”””

    Are you seriously claiming that this whole imminent threat discussion is about whether Iraq was an imminent threat to Turkey!!!? (Note: Mclellan was ridiculously lawyering Article 5, but that is beside the point here)

    More generally a bucket brigate of random quotations is not proof of anything. I already noted that you completely mischaracterized a Rumsfeld restatement of the Administration’s case as a claim that Iraq was an imminent threat. That confusion/dishonesty made me unwilling to continue.

    If you want to pick one quotation that you think really does make your case, I’ll explore it, but I do not intend to waste my time iterating through the set. I’ll just observe at this time that the Soviet Union was a significant threat to the US without being an imminent one. A substantial number of your quotations make it look like you are unable to make such distinctions.

    “””
    I still await discussion of the remaining quotes, and your assertion that no *one* listening to them in context could have reasonably formed the expectation that WMD were in Iraq.
    “””
    Although imminent threat may imply iraq had WMD (it might also imply that Iraq was about to acquire them from Pakistan or N. Korea). Iraq’s posession of some WMD certainly does not imply it was necessarily an imminnent threat. Again WMD and imminent threat are separate and distinct arguments.

  6. ooghe says:

    No one ever tried to justify invaded the Soviet Union, though.

    Except the Nazis.

    I have expanded the subject to encompass other relevant pre-war factors. There are other issues “on the table”.

    I have never claimed that Bush said ‘imminent threat’- I don’t think he did, therefore I don’t think he lied. Again, the great umbrage the Administration seems to have taken on this “imminent” point seems to be largely of their own manufacture, as far as I can tell (i.e. it is as if Cheney had said “Saddam is so bad he eats babies?! And there’s no evidence he eats babies?! Well, we never *said* the man ate babies, so I am simply shocked, SHOCKED, at this hue and cry about the war not being justified since nothing very scary, like, say, eating babies- which you can’t prove we ever said- whatsoever was found. We may have said he boiled babies, yes, he is clearly capable of that, and we have found a William Sonoma catalogue lying around, so clearly given the time and money, blah, blah, blah). What I am questioning is the relevance of whether Bush saying the words ‘imminent threat’ has *anything to do* with the questions now being posed about this policy stemming from lack of WMD (Josh’s initial question). If I believed, as you do, that the ‘Bush Lied, People Died’ were succeeding in turning public opinion through propaganda, then I would agree that to the extent that Bush did not knowingly lie, these people are damaging Bush unfairly, and the question of whether Bush said “imminent” or not becomes central.

    In my verbose post, I was demonstrating that-

    1. The Bush Administration used language that cultivated a climate of dire fear about Iraq’s capabilities, whether or not he said “imminent”.

    2. The public felt betrayed by the Administration in being that fearful of Iraq when no compelling evidence of Iraq’s immediate ambitions materialized.

    3. If there were a chance that this political disappointment might have been forgiven, it is not weathering the ‘long hard slog’ very well, independently of what the antiwar lobby says or does at this point.

    It seems as if your rebuttal to Josh is more concerned with exonerating the Bush Administration after-the-fact than considering the future of the policy, it’s successes, failures, what could have been foreseen, etc. Were it a court of law, I think you would be very successful in advocating Bush, and establishing that he did not *commit a crime*.

    Were you an analyst, conducting a forensic examination of the entire experience of the Iraq conflict, your narrow and deductive examination of events would be next to useless, especially if WMD actually *did* migrate to Syria and were at risk of being delivered to terrorists.

    For the record- I do not dispute that the Clinton Administration also believed that Iraq could be developing WMD, and that they would have been in error.

    An interesting analysis I have yet to see from anywhere is the degree to which the much-maligned UN santions did work in degrading Saddam’s war machine.

    Not sure what Tenet was up to- CIA Directors are politicians, generally. I think it was probably a combination of overreliance on signals intelligence and saying what he felt the president wanted to hear. I think CIA Directors have done this since Allen Dulles.

    If Iraq was going to obtain WMD from Pakistan or North Korea, it seems to me that the better plan is to go for the source.

  7. ooghe says:

    “Just to finish the last post….unless you can show either that the administration claimed imminent threat or made WMD claims that in and of themselves would be equivalent to a claim of imminent threat (and that these claims were misleading), you will have lost the debate about imminent threat.”

    – this is the sort of statement that illustrates your tendency to subordinate a discussion of what Bush said/didn’t say prior to invading Iraq, and how it was effected by the lack of WMD to polemics. The suggestion that Bush *could* have said something but didn’t strikes you as irrelevant, because the policy and it’s execution/evaluation is not your main interest. Rather- it strikes you as an attempt to “change the subject”. Good advocacy, but if I were Bush, I wouldn’t be looking to you to help win the war on terror (or get re-elected).

    You had made a good start with your emphasis on the threat of the propagandists, but you seemed to have have steered away from it as of late. I should like to hear more, so we can critically evaluate how best to go about re-engineering the Middle East by November. I’m sure Bush would be relieved to know that public rejection of the Iraq war couldn’t have been avoided.

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