Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brad Rees: Smart Enough To Be Dumb

DemBones has a new post up about Brad Rees. As I have written before, DemBones is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful blogs there is if you care about discussing things like politics, theology and the general human condition. I lurk a lot there, too insecure to post.

(Before I forget, you can access Brad's Blog here.)

In any event, the proprieter of DemBones, Drew, is a strong supporter of Tom Perriello, the newly elected Democratic Congressman from the Fifith District. His latest post about Brad, the Objectivist/Libertarian/Conservative to whom I introduced you here, addresses a not-so-subtle swipe Brad took at Perriello in a speech yesterday. Via Drew, here is what Brad said:
And every single politician that stands before you and proclaims it your moral duty to “contribute” to some “common good” is engaged in hyperbole to promote the same end: discrimination against you, that smallest of all minorities, the individual taxpayer. Forcible confiscation of the fruits of your labor is not “contributing.” And to foist upon you that line about the “common good” is the height of arrogance.

The reason why Drew got out of sorts is because the idea of acting for the common good was a campaign theme of Perriello's. so Drew goes on to explain the entiure concept of a "common good," even citing the U.S. Constitiution, a document Brad reveres.

But, of course, the obvious problem with Brad's argument here is that it lacks any kind of coherence or historical, factual or rhetorical support. I suspect Brad, an intelligent fellow, realizes his argument doesn't make any actual sense.

Rather, It appears Brad was trying to touch an emotional chord with the crowd, and in this, it seems, he was successful. Watching the video that Drew posted. I particularly liked the way Brad spoke through a megaphone into a microphone in order to be heard by a crown that seemed to measure in the dozens. Brilliant!

In a situation like this, actually trying to make sense in what you are saying hurts you rhetorically, because if people are actually thinking about and intellectually processing what you are saying, then they are not reacting emotionally to it. Thus, applying the kind of analysis to Brad's remark that Drew does is not so much pointless as it is beside the point.

Consider another section from the video. When Brad mentions that he had been told that Thomas Jefferson was a "Democrat," and the guy either working or standing nearby the videocamera can be heard correcting him in a know-it-all sort of way: "Actually, he was a Whig."

Well, actually, to the extent Jefferson even belonged to a political party in the way that we would understand the term, it was called the Democratic-Republican party.

Brad was more right than wrong on that one, but it actually lowered his credibility with his audience, who thought Jefferson was a Whig.

I'm guessing Brad knows this occurs all the time among his fans, which is why when he speaks or writes, he is quite unconcerned with the content of what he is saying.

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