Monday, September 1, 2008


Through advocacy or inquiry

Arriving at a decision, as far as the concept of advocacy is concerned, is a contest. An advocate enters into a discussion solely for the purpose of convincing the decision makers. An advocate is a spokesman for his position. He will lobby for while defending it at the same time. Dissenters are discouraged or dismissed. Advocates fight to win since the alternative is to lose.

Inquiry, on the other hand, treats decision-making as a problem that needs to be solved. An "inquirer" enters into a discussion for the purpose of evaluating hypotheses. They think critically and present and listen to balanced arguments. Their attitude keeps them open to alternatives even when these viewpoints are submitted by the minority. In the end, this approach leads to a sense of collective ownership of the final decision by the entire group.

Politics, unfortunately, is one of those topics that can inflame the heart. It is hard to maintain an inquiring nature in this subject. Passion has a way of turning people into fierce advocates for their positions.

As my uncle often said, there are two topics of discussion that never end: politics and religion. And he wisely refrains from participating in both.

The presidential election is less than 90 days away and the incumbent president has certainly had a tumultuous administration. It is no wonder that passions run high especially among the Democrats.

I heard Senator Obama, the Democratic candidate, give a rousing speech at his party's national convention. As a former member of Toastmasters, I applauded his masterful delivery of his message. However, sometimes the delivery is so good that it is hard to review the meaning of the message.

I want to do that with both candidates.

I was surprised, therefore, when I read the analysis of Obama's speech in this political opinion article by Mr. Robert Tracinski. Entitled "Obama Offers a Beautifully Packaged Lie," I read it with a critical eye. I was looking for flawed partisan logic but saw none.

Here then, I present for your own review, are excerpts of Tracinski's article:
Barack Obama can fake sincerity, and that, more than the words of a speech or the pageantry that precedes it, is the key to his power as a speaker.

His speech last night was brilliant and perfect. It is too bad that the whole thing was a lie, which depended on the smoothness and apparent sincerity of Senator Obama's delivery to lull the listener into a state of credulity and prevent him from asking too many questions.

Here's an example that is small but revealing. Obama led with the best sales pitch he has to offer: that he is not George Bush. But of course, Obama is running against John McCain, not Bush. So he attempted to justify the substitution by claiming that "John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time." This statistic has been used throughout the Democratic convention, but it makes no sense. Bush is not a member of Congress and casts no votes there--so how can you compare his voting record to that of McCain?

But don't examine this folly; ask only what it accomplishes. It allows Obama to run against an unpopular president who will not defend himself because he is not actually in the race.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: