Since the “You didn’t build that” comment a few days ago by the President, the mainstream media has developed a new truism, namely that Romney is taking the President’s words out of context.
That is true, in the narrow sense of the phrase, in that any brief quote is always out of context. But that is only dishonest rhetoric if the quote has a different meaning by itself than it does within the context. As many have pointed out, Obama’s message isn’t any more comforting in context than out of context.
What Obama and his defenders have been doing is what really constitutes dishonest rhetoric. James Taranto makes an excellent point today:
The basic substantive problem with….[Obama’s] argument is that it blurs the distinction between an uncontroversial proposition (government is necessary) and a highly disputed one (government of its current size and scope is necessary and may even be insufficient). The ability to blur such distinction is a useful skill for a politician; the best way to accomplish something controversial is to persuade people you’re doing something uncontroversial.
The President and media are trying to pin on Romney the charge that he doesn’t think government is necessary, which is a ridiculous claim and one far more dishonest than Romney’s using the quote out of context.
Obama’s defenders want people not to focus on the thrust and primary motivation of Obama’s claim: those who have built small businesses should be paying even more in taxes and be subject to more regulations (the ACA being chief among them) than they currently are.
In short, the Obama strategy is to try to convince people that just because some government is necessary that we need more government than the (already outrageous) amount we already have. And they want to paint their opponent as one who doesn’t recognize the value of government.
This type of logical fallacy probably has some official latin name. For now, let’s just use a simple word: nonsense.