I try to find an example from real life, and I finally resort to imagination.
So here goes:
It is a little like watching your favorite college science teacher, the one who pushes every student in every class to build on the shoulders of giants, suddenly arguing that the earth is flat, and eventually realizing that he is serious. As a courtesy, you review his evidence and quickly come to the realization that the basis of his rantings is a crayon drawing saved by his mother from when he was five. He really is nuts.
My old friend T. Paine is challenged on the age-old charge that President Obama palled around with terrorists. T. Paine responds, in part, "Further, evidence is pretty damning that Ayers did indeed write Dreams from my Father for or with Obama". He produces an article from four years before.
The article is by Jack Cashill, who began his literary career in politics "proving" that President Bill Clinton and friends plotted the murder of Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash in 1996. Since 2008, Cashill has pretty much devoted his professional life, under the sponsorship of World Net Daily, to proving that Barack Obama's life has been a total fraud.
The Cashill piece my friend relies upon was published and published again and again on right wing sites in the closing weeks of the 2008 Presidential election. It shows conclusively that radical weatherman bomber from the 1960s, Bill Ayres, ghost wrote the book Dreams from my Father published over the name of Barack Obama.
I read the article on my lunch hour. It was hilarious, filled with so many knee slappers that co-workers stopped by, concerned to see me suddenly beating up my kneecaps. It was like satire, like something from the Onion.
One example: Cashill presents two sentences, one from an Ayres book, one from "Obama's" Dreams from my Father.
Here is Ayres:
"I picture the street coming alive, awakening from the fury of winter, stirred from the chilly spring night by cold glimmers of sunlight angling through the city."
And here is Obama (who really was Ayres, if folks would would just believe):
"Night now fell in midafternoon, especially when the snowstorms rolled in, boundless prairie storms that set the sky close to the ground, the city lights reflected against the clouds."
See how they are pretty much exactly alike?
You don't see it?
Well then, you simply lack the fine eye for detail that is the unique gift of Jack Cashill.
That is not the only piece of evidence, of course. Mr. Cashill has been able to deduce from his encounters with Bill Ayres that he speaks with a cadence, and that this cadence is similar to the writing patterns of Mr. Obama. If the cadence argument doesn't convince you, well, you are simply not seeing the big picture.
Not quite halfway through his article, comes a series of biographical relationships. One point of similarity Cashill presents is that Bill Ayres once spoke of imagining himself as black. And, as Mr. Cashill's research has revealed, Barack Obama is actually black.
You think it coincidence? Foolish mortal!
And so the entire improbable effort continues. Cashill compares the number of words per sentence from 30 sentences "selected at random" from the same two books with the two sentences Mr. Cashill has also been able to define as the same. The number of words per sentence in the excerpts almost match. Aha! And 30 sentences Cashill has taken from other Obama writings have 6 more words on average per sentence. Not convinced?
The overarching evidence, the nail in the coffin, the irrefutable proof that overshadows everything else, is that Obama wrote a book early on in his political career that was so good it received acclaim from all over. And it was a first effort.
By contrast, Mr. Cashill has endeavored all his life to write capably and his primary accomplishment by 2008, a book called Sucker Punch, has not received nearly the acclaim. It is not only unfair that Mr. Obama got exemplary reviews from critics, while the first effort of the Mr. Cashill was pretty much ignored. It is a literary impossibility. A successful book by then neophyte Obama, especially compared with a literary failure by Mr. Cashill who possesses truly awesome talent, means the game was rigged. Obama had to have had help.
That is, of course, only a fraction of the evidence. There is more, so very, very much more. The serial examples of reasoning would make passable commercial for a satellite provider: Don't wake up in a roadside ditch!
The logic of my friend Mr. Paine is similar to that of other conservatives who rely on Mr. Cashill. The logic is usually some variation of this:
- Obama clearly could not have written the book about himself.
- Since he didn't write it, he had to have a ghostwriter.
- Since Bill Ayres has a cadence to his speech pattern and once thought about what it was like to be a black man, he must have written Obama's book.
- Since he must have written Obama's book, Obama must share his philosophy.
- Since they must have identical ways of looking at the world, and Ayres once was a very radical individual, Obama must hate America.
The same sort of logic often afflicts the efforts of truly passionate believers. It can be a temptation in any cause. Since the conclusion is so self-evidently true, any string of reasoning that leads to it has to be valid.
In the end, after stripping away the fluff, the only logic that really matters in Obama Derangement Land is circular. Conservatives are not all possessed by the derangement, but some most certainly have fallen to the illness. They who most devotely hate Obama hate Obama because they hate Obama. Birtherism, socialist labels, anti-colonial inherited views, palling around with radicals, evil plots, secret jihads, all are eagerly accepted as supporting that hatred.
Can't you see it? Well?
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We all rationalize to some extent, though awareness of the tendency reduces the frequency. However, the intelligent among us have standards that allow them to rationalize more effectively, which is why it can be more difficult to convince intelligent people that they are wrong.
This particular argument is far from effective, so you can guess what I think of the one who made it and those who accept it.
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