Prosecute the torture.

February 3, 2013

Paul Kengor Needs To Do His Homework Better.

We've met this Grove City Political Science professor before:
Paul Kengor, advisee to the Scaife-funded Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, has a book published by the Scaife-funded Intercollegiate Studies Institute and now he's getting some free publicity for the book on the pages of the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
And he's at it again.

In yesterday's Tribune-Review, Kengor had an op-ed criticizing President Obama's agenda.  And let's be clear here - he's certainly entitled to that.  A robust democracy requires a robust discussion of the issues.  That's a good thing.

It's how he misquotes the President that's the problem.

Before I continue, let me wonder aloud , though, whether the Trib (or more importantly their readers) know that what's in this weekend's paper isn't exactly original as this piece from February 2 is more or less a word for word rewrite of this piece by Paul Kengor from the National Review Online, January 21.

It's certainly NOT plagiarism (as he wrote both pieces) but if the Trib think's he's produced something new, they're wrong.  It's like re-writing a history paper from last year and turning it in to your Poli Sci professor for a grade this year.

As Kengor's done this before, I am assuming it's OK with the Trib but I wonder if his readers would mind if they knew.  Perhaps and perhaps not.

Anyway, in yesterday's piece Kengor had this to say:
Consider this line from Obama: “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone.”

Really? That's Barack Obama speaking? He's always been skeptical of central authority?

The Obama line actually is closer to what Ronald Reagan stated in his 1981 inaugural address — “government is not the solution … government is the problem” — and it's a far cry from this statement from Obama in February 2009, after his first inauguration: “The federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs.”

Note those earlier words from Obama — “only government.” 
His entire argument rests on you, the reading public, accepting what Kengor wants you to accept: that Obama's agenda is closer to guv'ment control of the economy than it is any sort of "skepticism of central authority."  That Obama is misleading you now because he said something completely different 4 years ago.

But let's go see what Obama really said in February, 2009.

The sentence Kengor misquotes is from his opening statement to this press conference on February 9 of that year.  Obama said (I'll highlight the parts that Kengor decided you didn't need to see):
It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs.
Changes things, huh?  And what was happening in February, 2009?

From Obama's statement:
Last month our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine. And if there's anyone out there who still doesn't believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don't know where their next paycheck is coming from.
Put in context (something Kengor doesn't want you to do) it's obvious that Obama was not talking about any sort of general rules of economic conduct.  He even says "at this particular moment".

And yet Paul Kengor, Ph.D. wants you to think that his doctored quotation means something that it doesn't.  I wonder if his students at Grove City College could get away with such sloppy work.

But let's spend a little more time on Kengor's homework.  He takes particular issue at 2 separate quotations from Obama's second inaugural:
  • “(F)idelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; ... preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
  • “Being true to our founding documents does not ... mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way. ... Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.”
And he doesn't like how the Obama Administration is looking to "define liberty in ways completely different from many of us."

The first is from this passage.  It happens immediate AFTER the sentence Kengor quoted (Again, I'll highlight the parts Kengor chose to omit for you):
Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.
Once you put it in context, it changes the meaning, doesn't it? Obama's not talking about redefining liberty but collective action to protect liberty.

Then there's the second passage.  It's from farther down the Inaugural Address (again, emphasizing what Kengor omitted for you):
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law --  for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity -- until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.
These are some of the the "redefinitions" of liberty to which Kengor objects:
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Equal rights for gay men and women
  • Equal access to the vote
And so on.

In short Kengor doesn't like how Obama wants "the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" should be made "real for every American." 

Nice guy, that Paul Kengor, Ph.D.

2 comments:

Hutch said...

Good afternoon, You state up front that "A robust democracy requires a robust discussion of the issues. That's a good thing." But several of your posts bash Richard M. Scaife, his foundations and one of two newspapers that gives balance to the narrative in this left listing city.

The opinion piece omissions seem to be chronological, and with the exception of one seem to get to the main points that trouble conservatives. The problem with this administration is the vast gap between what they say and what is done. When plans are laid out to stifle free speech at the UN and infringe on our 2nd Amendment rights, unconfirmed czars writing regulations and making decisions without scrutiny you can understand when seemingly unconstitutional overtones are noticed.

Add to that NBC News being caught on several occasions criminally editing reports that in at least one case (Zimmerman) effectively ruined an innocent mans life. Buzzwords and code speak take on special meaning in times like these.

Dayvoe said...

Good afternoon, Hutch.

With all due respect I don't think you understand the points of my Scaife postings at all.

Are you saying that in order to respect "robust discussion" I should refrain from criticizing Scaife's manipulation of the media? What sort of sense does that make?

My blog posts are almost always about how the Trib's editorial board routinely distorts reality and/or fails to disclose it's financial connections to the conservative think-tanks it's de facto endorsing.

A "robust discussion" would demand more of that info, not less.