Ad hominem or not ad hominem

Ad hominem: Appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.

A recent Letter to the Editor lamented the use of ad hominem arguments, saying that arguments should be based on facts. The writer then listed some alleged Obama administration scandals which have been debunked repeatedly. I’m a big fan of facts; here are a few.

Fast and Furious — Similar to a program implemented in 2006, U.S. officials allowed straw purchasers to buy guns, which were then tracked into Mexico. The program was “seriously flawed and supervised irresponsibly” by Arizona ATF agents. The final report said there was “no evidence that ... Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation.” No connection to President Obama has been proven either.

In contrast, President Ronald Regan sold weapons to Iran, previously designated as a terrorist country. In 1983, some of these weapons were used in the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 Americans. Reagan also sold weapons to Iraq. Numerous investigations have proven the link between these sales and Reagan. Where is Republican outrage?

Benghazi — There have been at least eight hearings, 50 briefings, and 25,000 pages of documents exploring every aspect of this tragedy. Every question has been answered several times. The recent “smoking gun” email says nothing new. Four Americans were killed in Benghazi. Hundreds of Americans died in attacks under Reagan. Under Bush, there were 13 attacks on diplomatic facilities. We should be finding better ways to keep our diplomatic personnel safe; Republicans have chosen instead to cut budgets. The National Republican Congressional Committee is fundraising on the corpses of these four Americans. Is that okay?

Holder contempt — The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to hold AG Holder in contempt because they claimed he wasn’t cooperating. When the Bush administration was being investigated for firing U.S. attorneys, Bush and Vice-President Cheney told Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, political advisor Karl Rove, and White House counsel Harriet Miers to ignore any subpoenas from Congress. They were told not to cooperate with any investigations into alleged misdeeds by the administration. This lawlessness was later declared unconstitutional, but in the meantime, Bush and company got away with stonewalling Congress.

IRS — The IRS actions didn’t involve individual tax returns. The groups in question were 501(c)4 groups, which are supposed to engage exclusively in social welfare, not politics. The guidelines have been stretched over the years, but the idea is to keep political groups from obtaining tax-exempt status. The IRS has to enforce the guidelines. The only group denied was a liberal group, Emerge America of Maine. The director of the IRS during this time was a Republican appointed by GW Bush. After numerous hearings, no links between the White House and the IRS actions has been discovered.

In contrast, GW Bush’s administration targeted the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., for criticizing Bush. The IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status. The Bush IRS also went after the NAACP in 2004, when then-chairman Julian Bond criticized Bush. These actions mimic President Nixon’s “enemies’ list,” when he used the IRS to punish detractors.

Affordable Care Act — Briefly, the ACA is a smashing success. At least 15 million previously uninsured people are now insured. Lives are being saved. It’s sad that Republicans think this constitutes a failure.

Economic recovery – When Obama became president, the country was hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs a month. We have now had private sector job growth for 50 consecutive months, creating 9.2 million jobs. Voters can decide if this is good or not.

Martin Luther King, Jr. — The claim that King was a Republican has been debunked many times. His son Martin Luther King III said, “It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest that he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African American votes in Florida and many other states.” Maybe we could let facts settle this issue.

This is not about “Gotcha.” This is about a sense of proportion. We have real problems in America. Republicans are spending hundreds of hours and tens of millions of dollars on issues that do nothing to solve these problems. That is a fact. What are their priorities?

Jeanette Strong is an LVN columnist.


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