Slinking quietly away

I find it both typical and telling that after making copious comments containing accusations of intellectual dishonesty and demands for information, Chris, Halation and Jefe have all fallen silent and disappeared as soon as the demanded information was provided and the obvious flaws in their positions were exposed.

What they were attempting is the left’s third-favorite form of argumentation, catch-and-dismiss, in which the leftist tries to catch out his target in a mistake, however small, which he believes will then allow him to safely ignore the remainder of the target’s argument.

That this is a stupid and short-sighted form of debate never seems to trouble them much and is one reason why leftists are so handicapped whenever they find themselves in genuine debate before an audience. The problem is that the only time when catching someone in a mistake can possibly be conclusive is when that mistake concerns the central foundation of an argument – Marx’s labor theory of value, Malkin’s assertion of West Coast vulnerability, Alterman’s conflation of corporation and capitalism, etc. – otherwise, a simple admission of error and a corresponding correction of one’s argument will suffice to allow the debate to continue.

For example, my errant belief of 2003 that the Dow would be back around 7,000 by now does not fatally flaw my argument that the U.S. economy is on thin ice. It weakens it, to be sure, but doesn’t even come close to causing it to collapse. But if one were to practice catch-and-dismiss, one would vociferously argue that based on that single mistake, the U.S. economy is in great shape, although even Larry Kudlow, the bull of bulls, would hesitate to make that case at the moment.

Although it grows tiresome, the benefit of going through the motions with the catch-and-dismissers is that their tendency to leap on even the most minor mistakes allows one to locate any slow leaks in one’s position. So, they too serve their purpose, until, sufficiently ventilated, they disappear into the aether of the Internet.