Tuesday, October 23, 2012

why right blogistan is so bad at arguing

at last night's debate, romney brought up his oft-repeated charge that the u.s. navy under obama has fewer ships than it did in 1916. obama countered by saying this:
But I think Gov. Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works.You mention the Navy, and how we have fewer ships than 1916. We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have aircraft carriers; we have ships that go underwater; nuclear submarines.
And so the question is not a game of 'Battleship' where we're counting ships. It's: What are our capabilities? So when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that makes sure our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home.
in other words, fewer ships in 2012 does not mean a weaker navy. the modern u.s. navy has more than just traditional warships, and because of that it doesn't need as many now as it did in the early 20th century.

then the "horses and bayonets" line went viral, essentially mocking romney for being out of touch and behind the times.

then right blogistan, realizing this horse and bayonets point is damaging to their guy, goes all fact-checky on the meme: the military still uses bayonets! (sure, not the same ones they used 100 years ago, but the modern versions are still called "bayonets"!) horses too!

so where does that leave us? has the right rebutted obama's point that america actually has a stronger navy now than in 1916 because the invention of things like submarines and aircraft carriers? of course not. they got distracted by the example and chased after that.

even if their "fact check" is right, it doesn't have any bearing on the point the president made at the debate. if "bayonets" is rebutted, obama could make the same point with cannon balls. the example doesn't matter really. it's just illustrative. the right blogistanis are attacking the wrong target. they completely lost the thread of the conversation.