Monday, September 28, 2009

On the "Right Wing Conspiracy"

The above article, posted in ABC News’ “The Note” and entitled “Bill Clinton Says Right-Wing Conspiracy Now after President Obama.” I’ll quote from the first part of it and comment below.

“ABC News' Kristina Wong reports: Former President Bill Clinton says the right-wing conspiracy that attacked him during his presidency now is after President Obama.

“When asked whether the "vast right-wing conspiracy" is still present today, the former president answered without hesitation, ‘Oh you bet. It's not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was,’ Clinton said today on NBC's ‘Meet the Press.’

"Right-wing conspiracy" was the term used by former first lady Hillary Clinton to describe the tactics her husband's political enemies used to attack his presidency after revelations of his affair with Monica Lewinski.

"’I mean they may be hurting President Obama . . . they can run his opposition up, but fundamentally he and his team have a positive agenda for America. Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail, and that's not a good prescription for a good America.

"’I mean, they're saying things about him just like when they accused me of murder and all this stuff they did, but it's not really good for the Republicans or the country, what's going on now . . .’”


I’m sure Clinton is intelligent, but being a product of the modern educational system, he has a poor grasp of logic. The definition of “conspiracy” is “a combination of people for an evil purpose, an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime in concert as treason, a plot.” To be opposed by a rival political party is not “evil,” unless our whole political process is evil. What is evil about opposing programs and policies? Democrats do it all the time. Are they evil?

Or is Clinton talking about the ongoing search for malfeasance. Both sides do that too. If a political leader is caught doing something wrong, people get together to oppose what he did. If “evil” is involved it is the malfeasance of the offender that is evil not the opposing of it. Opposing evil is not evil.

And we need to be reminded that the term, “vast right wing conspiracy” was coined by Clinton’s wife when he was caught in an adulterous relationship with Monica Lewinski. Surely the President, who seemed to confess his malfeasance, knows that he was guilty of malfeasance in office (evil). Surely he knows that opposing that malfeasance is not evil.

In what way is Bill Clinton being illogical? His conclusion does not follow from his premise. Why is that? Okay, let’s try and build Clinton’s argument using the Oxford dictionary of English definition of “Conspiracy” which is what I quote above.

Major Premise: Conspiracies are the gathering together of people for an evil purpose

Minor Premise: The Republican Party gathered together to attack me over the Monica Lewinski affair.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Republican Party is guilty of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

But note that attacking Bill Clinton over malfeasance in office, which is what the Monica Lewinski affair was, was not evil. The affair itself was evil. Therefore the Clinton’s are guilty of fallacious reasoning.


Note that I am giving Clinton the benefit of doubt. I’m assuming that he has not mastered the use of logic. There is an alternative to my assumption, however. Sometimes politicians understand perfectly well that they are being illogical but do it anyway because the public is gullible and poorly educated and will not, most of them, be able to find the flaws in such reasoning. A clever slur, as the term “vast right wing conspiracy” obviously is, is probably worth thousands of times more (in the political coin of the realm) than a well-reasoned argument.

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