About the President’s Presser Yesterday

On the “Jedi mind-meld,” Sulu says the President got it right so that settles it…if we recognize an appeal-to-authority argument as valid. I’m afraid, though, if this demonstrates anything at all, what it demonstrates are the many flaws in that form of argument. To use one’s good name as a lever for moving insincere ambitions is a sultry and seductive temptation in the human condition, and it lives in the forever. None of us are immune. I recall Vint Cerf, recognized as the father of TCP/IP, weighing in with the notion that Al Gore was right to accept credit with the “I took the initiative in creating the Internet” remark.

By internalizing the reasoning process and taking our own initiative to peek into the water wells, we can see President Obama is just as wrong now as Al Gore was then. Actor George Takei’s actual argument, granting him the benefit of every available doubt, amounts to “Star Trek and Jedi knights both have something to do with peace.”

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Dignifying it with a response — and I’m conflicted about that, but I’ll go with it — Takei makes the mistake of neglecting thing-that-is-non-partisan-or-darn-well-should-be Number Eight:

8. [blank] and [blank] are meaningfully different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.

Jedi mind tricks put the ideas in. Vulcan mind melds get the information out. In and out are opposites. They are not the same. Note this is after ignoring, for no reason whatsoever other than it is injurious to the point Takei is trying to prop up, that “Jedi mind meld” is a portmanteau of sheer nonsense. The phrase doesn’t exist. It’s a botch, plain & simple, and one feels a bit silly descending to the level of pointing it out.

And, since I’m merely a fan of both franchises, whereas Takei is an actor on one, and yet I got it right and he got it wrong, this settles any outstanding disagreement about the appeal-to-authority, as well. I find the whole business to be strewn with gaping defects in logic, and fallacies both formal and informal lying hither and yon. Sincere presenters of assertions have no reason to use it, none whatsoever. Unless it is their intent to outsource the reasoning processes…which, if they really are sincere, they’ll come out and ‘fess up that this is what they’re doing, and offer due deference to anyone who undertakes the more disciplined work of internalizing those processes.

Putting it more simply: We have enough bovine feces floating around out there and we don’t need more.

Which brings me to that other thing:

What a telling exchange. And unfortunate for the President, in that the character deficiencies He is showing here, are easily recognizable to many of us. His saving grace is that this “many of us” probably doesn’t overlap statistically, in any great measure, with His constituency, since the defect becomes most glaring when it is in your proximity and you’re trying to get a job done.

Just look at what happened here.

Reporter: It seems like you’re not taking any responsibility for what happened here.

Obama: Oh yeah? Name one thing I could’ve done differently. Just one.

This particular exchange doesn’t fit the image that the President was trying to put together here. He’s trying to present Himself as the grown-up in the room, the cool but inwardly frustrated ambassador of good will, trying to get something done.

But those among us who’ve encountered the personality type, understand this is the type of guy stopping things from getting done. The “nothing is ever my fault” guy.

There is another point to be made here. My son and I have been exploring this in recent years: A lot of times in life, you’re going to look around at the wreckage of your latest failure and see yes, President Obama’s viewpoint is right here, there is absolutely, positively nothing I could have done differently. That is okay as an initial observation. It is not okay as a final conclusion because it just isn’t how productive people think. They don’t say it out loud and they don’t allow the thought in their heads. EVER.

If it isn’t your fault, you make it your fault. Really, that is what you do. For if it does not depend on you in some way, then what hope do you have for making it better?

So: We do not say “those a******s at the car lot really saw me coming, they really took me for a ride. Reamed me good.” We do not say things like that if we want to be productive people. We say “I really made a mistake going to that car lot.” See the difference?

A lot of people won’t. Seems the guy in the White House right now is one of those people. And, what’s even worse is, He seems to think it’s awfully important that we know this about Him.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Rotten Chestnuts.

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