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Warnings, Threats, Il Duce!

Elizabeth Anderson of Left-to-Right had a good summary the other day of recent uses of the rhetorical strategy she calls, "Issue a threat, call it a warning,."Her example was Bush's "warning" that the Social Security Trust Fund would be plundered.

As Matt Yglesias points out, this is obviously applicable to Senator John Cornyn's statement that the recent killings of judges are the inevitable reaction to a judiciary that doesn't respect his theories of constitutional interpretation. Matt compares it to Samuel Huntington's argument in the atrocious Who We Are that Mexican immigration is a problem because it will bring about a white nativist backlash.

Now whenever you think you've found the most outrageous thing these folks say, there's something else, and Cornyn's statement reminded me of one that tops even his. Last year, the Weekly Standard published an article about Mussolini that ended as follows:

You can file the lessons of Mussolini's rise under "H" for Hegel, the idea that extreme movements always beget extreme counter forces. It was the far left, by relentlessly chipping away at the foundations of Italian life, that gave birth and power to the far right--as it did a decade on when Hitler rode nearly the same path under similar circumstances.

This is what seems most pertinent today, as "activist" groups like Moveon.org and demagogues like Michael Moore and angry men like Al Gore and George Soros rail so irrationally against both the president and the structures of daily American life, including the legally adjudicated Supreme Court decision that ultimately decided the 43rd presidency in advance of a tedious recount that would've yielded the same outcome.

... Either this November or in four years, George W. Bush is going to be turned out of office ...Someday, though, a populace provoked by the left's constant fire-breathing may look for a dragon slayer who won't go quite so easily.

I'm sure there are even more bizarre examples of this rhetorical strategy, but you may have to enter David Horowitz's airspace to find them.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on April 5, 2005 | Permalink


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The Left likes to use this one on justifications for income transfers, saying that only by shifting income to those affected by globalisation-caused pay stagnation they can be stopped from imposing harsh trade barriars.

Posted by: yoyo | Apr 5, 2005 11:56:56 AM


"but you may have to enter David Horowitz's airspace to find them"

That's really funny. You don't usually crack me up (i.e. I don't come here for the jokes), but "airspace" got me. I'm going to start using that one (with attribution, whenever possible).

And that thing about Mussolini is just sickening. Be careful about advocating too strenuously ("irrationally") for liberal policies or we might just have to open up a can of fascism on you? Gospodi.

Posted by: &y | Apr 5, 2005 7:03:07 PM