August 31, 2008

Self-Defeating Assertions

I sometimes think about "This page intentionally left blank" utterances; assertions that are false because they have been made. Paralipsis is one way it can happen, but unintentionally ironic examples happen a lot in politics.

Like this.

John McCain's campaign manager today accused Barack Obama of practicing politics as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast....

"Look at what happened today did Barack Obama attack John McCain or Sarah Palin?" Davis asked.

Told Obama had criticized McCain and Palin on the campaign trail over pay equity, Davis continued: "So he attacks us while there's a hurricane going on and John McCain suspends his convention basically. What bigger contrast can you have about putting your country first?"

I don't know, Rick, you could have a contrast in which you don't attack Obama while there's a hurricane going on. Which, in case you didn't notice, you just did.

(You could also have a candidate who didn't endanger lives and waste precious resources by giving a grandstanding speech in an area that people are trying to evacuate before a hurricane hits, but that's not a self-defeating assertion.)

If you were to point out that Obama has often gone negative on people for going negative, you might have a fair point as well.

Posted by Matt Weiner at August 31, 2008 09:00 PM

In view of your post, I was delighted today to see a school bus (a van) drive by with a sign in the back window: "This bus is empty."

Posted by: Matt's mom at September 4, 2008 02:07 PM