A New Low for Loven

As we’ve noted before, AP reporter Jennifer Loven has written some astonishingly biased “news” articles attacking President Bush. But the folks at Federalist Journal called our attention last night to a Loven piece which may achieve a new low. Loven’s latest effort is “Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments In Speeches,” which masquerades as a straight news article, but reads like a DNC press release:

When the president starts a sentence with “some say” or offers up what “some in Washington” believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he “strongly disagrees” — conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Loven quotes an “expert” on straw men:

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as “a bizarre kind of double talk” that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

“It’s such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people,” Fields said. “All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What’s striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff.”

Bush has caricatured the other side for years, trying to tilt legislative debates in his favor or score election-season points with voters.

The “straw man” is, of course, a time-honored rhetorical device that is sometimes used by all politicians. But Loven attacks only one: President Bush. Do you suppose we can look forward to a piece on the Democrats’ logical fallacies? No, neither do I.

That said, how persuasive are the examples Loven offers of Bush’s alleged “caricatures” of the Democrats’ positions? She begins:

“Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day,” President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, “Some say that if you’re Muslim you can’t be free.”

“There are some really decent people,” the president said earlier this year, “who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care … for all people.”

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

Really? Apparently Ms. Loven hasn’t been reading the prominent Democrats and influential columnists who have said repeatedly that “the war is lost.” And maybe she hasn’t read John Murtha’s resolution, with its recitations of purported failure in Iraq and its demand that the war be “hereby terminated.”

And if Ms. Loven doesn’t think that under the “single payer” health care (i.e., socialized medicine) systems advocated by many liberals the government is “the decider of health care,” she’s never been to Canada.

Here’s another of Ms. Loven’s “straw men”:

Running for re-election against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, Bush frequently used some version of this line to paint his Democratic opponent as weaker in the fight against terrorism: “My opponent and others believe this matter is a matter of intelligence and law enforcement.”

Bush probably said that because he actually listened to what Kerry said, unlike, apparently, Ms. Loven:

The war on terror is less — it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time. … But it’s primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world — the very thing this administration is worst at.

Funny, what with Loven’s husband having been cited by the Kerry campaign as one of its leading endorsers, you’d think she would have paid more attention to Kerry’s speeches.

Loven’s penultimate example of Bush’s “straw men” is inexplicable:

Usually without targeting Democrats specifically, Bush has suggested they are big-spenders who want to raise taxes, because most oppose extending some of his earlier tax cuts…

Do you understand that? I don’t. If the tax cuts aren’t extended, taxes will be raised. Most Democrats, as Loven acknowledges, support this. So how is this a “straw man”? Loven doesn’t say.

The Associated Press is an odd organization, and it isn’t clear to me who (if anyone) runs it. But there must be someone at the AP who wants the organization to be taken seriously as a news source. If that’s true, sacking Jennifer Loven would be a good first step.

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