Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Con Man Apprenticeship: Fallacious Arguments--Part IV, Con Man / Politician Similarities

--Close to Election, It's Time to close out With this Noteworthy Identity Association

Change, reform, get it done now, cut costs, save money. At every election period the same chant. Over and over and over. Election after election after election. Ad nauseam. Apparently the multitudes of politicians and con men who utter these words are totally unaware of Cheop's Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or under budget.

Yet, here are some of the tactics--used every election cycle--that are used to make you believe they--the con artists and politicians--are the Messiahs, the ones who can perform such miracles.

> Argument by personal charm. Good example was the 2006 California Governor;s' race between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angeledies. Arnold's persona not only included pure charisma, but sex appeal Angelidies, in contrast, along with his dry rot demeanor, perfectly fit the old accountant joke: What does an accountant use for birth control? Answer: His personality.

> Create trust Everybody and their cousin wants to be part of the "Winning Team," even if they don't know what this winning team is, or what it stands for. An outpouring of personal charm does it. And a desire to please this highly admired candidate / con man is a big part of this, no matter the policy position or platform. As Yogi Berra said, 90% of the game is half mental.

> Appeal to pity. "You can't send me to prison for murdering my mother with an ax. I've already suffered enough through being an orphan." The old theory of, if it doesn't make any sense to begin with, make even less sense of it, and see what happens.

> Accuse your opponent of personal attacks. In politics, particularly, this always works. Accusation: Your pothole filling project is a waste of taxpayer money. Defense: Just because I hit a pothole and broke my neck, you can't stop these personal attacks against me. Accusation: If grades one through five rank 19th in the world, we need help from private schools. Defense: Just because my 8 year old flunked the 1st grade 3 times you use this for a personal attack. Accusation: We don't need a missile defense. Defense: Just because my son mans one, you use this as a personal attack against the character of my family.

> Reasoning in a circle, or, the Catch 22 question "The stock market fell because of a technical adjustment." Or, did the technical adjustment cause the stock market to fall? If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question. Under "Reasoning in a Circle," your answer is unlikely to be a straight one.

> "Expert" status. This status is usually achieved by the most proficient BS artist in the room. Implication is that the "expert" knowledge presented is priceless, and the speaker's willingness to share his expertise is admirable. While slavish admiration devours you, while playing the sycophant in slurping up with zeal everything that is said, always remember the sacrosanct Rule of the Great: When someone you greatly admire and respect appears to be thinking deep thoughts, he is probably thinking about lunch.

For many of you who think the TV Show, Desperate Housewives, represents the typical American family, politics, as practiced, might seem quite normal to you.
But most realize that it only takes a little experience to upset a theory.. Thankfully.

For some reason, strangely, the best politician can sometimes, too, be like the famous TV star: Peter Falk's Detective Colombo, without the charm. After all, being discerning is the most important talent of them all. They all have one thing in common: Doing all the wrong things, for the wrong reasons.

22 comments:

Lynn said...

In this election personal charm is the big one.

Jack Payne said...

Looks much like it, Lynn. This ties in closely with wanting to be part of a "Winning Team," even though the victim has little or no idea what the "Winning Team" stands for.

Bern said...

Personal attacks, so freely used in politics, that's the strategy I resent the most. If I am showing up at a political debate with my fly open, and my opponent points this out, while complaining that I am only trying to humiliate him because he often forgets to zip up his fly, I take that as a personal attack. This is the kind of thing that is done far too often.

Jack Payne said...

I've got to admit, Bern, that is about the weirdest interpretation of personal attack I have ever heard.

Laura said...

This piece and the last one has led me to some serious re-consideration about how to vote this coming Tuesday. Funny how so many different elements have to be put together before a complete picture will emerge.

Jack Payne said...

It's easier to fight for principles than to live up to them. Is that the thing that makes the difference between the con man and politician. Is this where the politician just gives up?

Anonymous said...

I like Reasoning in a Circle. This sounds like the most promising gambit of them all.

Jack Payne said...

Gosh, Laura, if my last 2 posts led you to re-consider how to vote next Tuesday, I'm flattered. Didn't know I had that kind of power.

Thanks.

Jack Payne said...

Let's face it, argument by personal charm is the winner. How many past pressidential elections have you witnessed where this was the dominating factor - over ability and all else? From JFK, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Harry said...

Appeal to pity has to be the most screwball argument of them all. An ax in a mother's head, theoretically, should not be a very convincing argument, but oddly it often is.

Dee said...

I find it amusing that Jack's posts have influenced Laura. The fact is the tactics outlined by Jack are employed as he says over and over ad nauseum and they are done by both sides. It's always a risk but one that must be taken if you want to contribute to the decision making in your country.
Find a way to choose the lesser of two evils.

Remember fool me once...... Hey can't say it like Bush!

Terry said...

You did it again with - Nothing ever gets built on schedule or under budget.

Warren M said...

Jack, I think your observation that it's easier to fight for principles than to live up to them, is a good one. This one is perhaps the most telling in differentiating between a con man and a politician. The con men are always so consistently good at glossing this whole thing over. Many politicians are not.

Buddha said...

You are so right!
I got tired of being used and abused.
Let's not forget that Nov 4 is also time for congress realections. I say pay back time baby!

Julie said...

Personal attacks has to be one of the most effective tactics of politics. You would almost have to be one fruit loop short of a full load to believe most of the crap you hear. But, it is always effective.

Americymru said...

All very true...but there are still issues ...and I'm sufficiently naive/stupid to beleieve in the truth ting still. But what the hell.

Arjun.U said...

I want to say it again: nothing ever gets built under schedule or under budget! Politician is one who shakes your hand before election and your confidence after....

Jack Payne said...

Gory thought, Harry, huh?

Lesser of 2 evils. Good way to put it, Dee.

Yeah, Terry, I liked the over budget / behind schedule lead. Thought it was appropriate.

Jack Payne said...

You could well be right on the division point, Warren.

Used and abused. That's a simple, but very effective way to put it, Buddha.

Every political campaign is crammed full of persoal attacks, Julie. Some are quite vicious. Just something you have to live with, I guess.

Jack Payne said...

"Shakes your hand before election and your confidence after..." Couldn't have said that better, Arjun.u.

I see you do not share the cynicism of most of the rest of us, Americ. And, yes, there are still a lot of people like you around.

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