According to Logically Fallacious, a “False Dilemma” occurs “when only two choices are presented yet more exist, or a spectrum of possible choices exists between two extremes.”
You will never see me defending establishment Republican candidates, however, when an argument is made that is obviously fallacious, I will tear it down regardless of whom it helps. Jeb Bush is as establishment as they come, but one should not be judged based on the actions of someone else, even if that person is one’s brother.
On Friday, a reporter allegedly asked Jeb Bush about the Iraq war, as well as Afghanistan and foreign policy in general, to which Bush replied:
I won’t talk about the past…I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past. It’s about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward.
In the context of the given circumstances, it is quite clear that Bush is referring to re-litigating what his brother did as President. Bush is making it clear that he is not interested in discussing his brother’s record, as it does not pertain to his own. They are different people, with different ideas, and Jeb Bush’s prospective Presidency would obviously be very different, given the time in which it would occur. But The Chicago Tribune has a different interpretation of Bush’s remarks.
According to Albert Hunt:
If this stance were adopted by other candidates that would mean: Republicans would abandon efforts to blame former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya…The tax cuts enacted by President Ronald Reagan would be off-limits. Indeed, the Reagan record — the holy grail for most Republican candidates these days – would be prologue.
Hunt then goes on to suggest that “it’s not clear” if Bush’s past would be on the table:
It’s not clear from Bush’s assertions last week whether a candidate’s own past record would be open for discussion or debate.
Let’s rewind a bit. Is Albert Hunt actually suggesting that Jeb Bush wants to erase the past, and simply focus on the future? That, on its face, is a ludicrous suggestion from someone with an IQ above 40. Once again, it’s quite clear that the past to which Bush is referring is that of his brother’s. Furthermore, Hunt has created a false dilemma, which is predicated on the assumption that other candidates will follow what Hunt is assuming is Bush’s meaning. To be clear, that’s two massive assumptions.
This is the form Hunt’s false dilemma has taken:
- Jeb Bush is connected to the actions of his brother, and must therefore rebuke or justify them. Given this, the past actions of other candidates are also allowed on the table.
- Jeb Bush is notconnected to the actions of his brother, which means that any past actions taken by any other candidate—specifically Hillary Clinton—are off the table. Additionally, any, and all past policies are not to be discussed.
These are not the only two options, as have been presented by Hunt. The single factor invalidating this fallacious argument is the fact that Jeb Bush is not George W. Bush. Is that not obvious? Is Hunt that stupid? Or does he think his readers are foolish enough to fall for this nonsense? I’m guessing it’s a bit of both.
Hillary Clinton’s actions are on the table by virtue of the fact that they are her own–regardless of whether or not Jeb Bush wants to discuss the actions of his brother. A real analogy would be to say that if Jeb Bush doesn’t want to discuss the actions of W’s past, then we cannot talk about the actions committed solely by Bill Clinton—actions that did not at all involve Hillary. But that’s just obvious. So why are we discussing it? Because the left is doing everything they can—even to the establishment—to restrict, and cripple whoever winds up being the Republican nominee.
If we cannot force Jeb Bush to justify or rebuke the policy of another President simply because that President was related to him, we cannot then reference Ronald Reagan? Please. What a reach.
I would like to say that The Chicago Tribune is better than this, but that’s just not the case.