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Some News Analyses Are Made Totally of Straw

Like Helene Cooper’s in today’s New York Times, “Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw”:

Mr. Obama continued on the offensive against straw men that day in Los Angeles, pointing out that critics told him not to go on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC because “I can’t handle that and the economy at the same time.” Then, his audience primed, he delivered his standard kill line: “Listen, here’s what I say. I say our challenges are too big to ignore.”

And who can argue with that? Like most straw men, Mr. Obama’s are not complete fabrications. White House officials correctly pointed out that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, took a crack at Mr. Obama for appearing on the Leno show, saying that his “suggestion is that he come back, since he’s taken full responsibility, and get his people together” to confer on the budget.

But that is still a ways from the tortuous construct which Mr. Obama ended up with, that turned Mr. Kyl’s remark into one that somehow needed the “our challenges are too big to ignore” rebuttal, since it suggests that one of those challenges was apparently appearing on Leno.

That “tortuous construct,” Ms. Cooper, in which one suggests that appearing on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” is a big challenge that cannot be ignored, is what is colloquially known as a “joke.” Because, as you correctly point out in your “analysis,” going on Leno is not really a big challenge.  In fact, it is totally not any kind of challenge at all!  And that is what makes the “joke” so “funny,” you see.

I look forward to future analyses in this vein, in which we will learn that Obama totally lied about Sasha and Malia flying Air Force One over Manhattan.

Posted by on 05/24 at 10:40 AM
  1. Mr. Obama’s backers say his use of straw men does not approach the level of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Mr. President, we must not allow a straw man gap!

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  12:07 PM
  2. I would also suggest to Ms. Cooper that if it takes three increasingly tortuously-constructed paragraphs to get to your “tortuous construct” punchline: UR DOING IT RONG!!

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  12:19 PM
  3. JP, you need to give Ms. Cooper a break. It’s hard for the Times to keep up with the Washington Post in the tortuous construct department.

    Captcha: “party”, as in, let’s get it started - go Hawks!

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  01:16 PM
  4. What’s all this about Obama torturing constructs? Even David Broder will sign on to Truth Commission to investigate that!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  05/24  at  02:16 PM
  5. Note clever omission of definite article in previous comment. Just trying to keep up with new Cházian-Soviet style. In Chávezistan, definite article omits you!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  05/24  at  02:19 PM
  6. When Newt Gingrich appeared on The Daily Show someone in the room commented that Gingrich’s head was too big and his facial features, eyes, nose and mouth, were all scrinched into a small space in the middle, making him appear to be over-inflated like the giant Pillsbury Doughboy in the first Ghostbusters film.

    Posted by Bob In Pacifca  on  05/24  at  04:35 PM
  7. Cooper’s got a point, though the Straw Man--critics, republicans, Whitey--forms just part of BO’s rhetorical materiel. And let’s not forget vague invocations of Good Futurity: Miss Hope and Miss Change.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  04:43 PM
  8. In Chávezistan, Jay Leno appears on you.  And constructs confess promptly.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  05:41 PM
  9. Then, his audience primed, he delivered his standard kill line: “Listen, here’s what I say. I say our challenges are too big to ignore.”

    Sometimes our ignorance is too big to challenge.

    Captcha: received. Except after C.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  07:02 PM
  10. Paul Craig Roberts takes the “tortuous construct” to yet another level:

    America has lost her soul, and so has her president.

    The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.

    The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  07:30 PM
  11. Helene Cooper is totally behind the times.  Obama does not use ‘straw men’.  ‘Straw men’ are so yesterday it’s not even funny!  In the Obama age, when the President sets up a rhetorical pinata we do not call it a ‘straw man’—we call it a ‘sleestak’.... and when he ‘sets up’ a ‘sleestak’, he doesn’t then ‘knock it down’.  Oh no.  Instead, he skips lightly around it, on account of the ‘sleestak’ moving all slow and lacking basic coordination and such.

    Get with the times, Helene Cooper!  Straw men are so Dick Cheneyesque.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:31 PM
  12. You mean he grounded them, made them miss the Correspondents’ Dinner, based on a big fat lie?

    OMG, what jerk!

    “simply”

    Posted by 99  on  05/25  at  12:34 AM
  13. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.

    I was kind of hoping that essay would be accompanied by animation.

    Posted by Michael  on  05/25  at  07:41 AM
  14. My 8-week-old kitten was so irritated by the straw men piece that she bit me. Who do I sue?

    Captcha: dark, as in Lord Vader, as in - ok yeah, the Vader/Cheney thing has gotten old. Besides, Vader - way sexier.

    Posted by Kathy  on  05/25  at  06:45 PM
  15. No need to sue, Kathy!  Your little kitten was just telling you, “I can haz intelligent newz analysis?” What you need to do is to get the kitten to a keyboard so she can write to Cooper, “newz analysis—ur doin it wrong.”

    Posted by Michael  on  05/25  at  11:31 PM

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