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Weakness in own arguments intimidates anti-reformers

It’s hard to decide whether the narrative that Democrats who oppose education reforms championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal are trying to establish is born of simple paranoia, or actual introspection that admits the weakness of their argument.

Yesterday, in public at the Capitol caucus leader of the party state Rep. John Bel Edwards with others launched another round of criticism of the reform, using the same tired and discredited arguments as they have ever since it became obvious this legislation was coming. At the commencement of the tirade, Jindal Administration officials arrived, and quietly listened.

Yet perhaps Edwards had some kind of falshback and thought these guys wore white suits and held restraining devices intended for him. One might have thought so given his remarks afterwards, where he said the polite listening constituted “part of a pattern of trying to intimidate legislators.”

Of course, we can’t trust Edwards to discern properly “intimidation,” for he said nothing about it when it actually happened right in front of him last week. Teachers’ unions urged school employees to abandon their students, right before crucial testing this week, planning to cause disruption to intimidate school boards and other officials into not opposing their self-serving agenda against the reforms. Nary a peep came from Edwards condemning this genuine instance of intimidation in action, making him either dense or a hypocrite.

The latter seems more likely, even if he actually is paranoid. As the fearsome physiques of the Jindal crew seemed highly unlikely to excite within Edwards (a West Point graduate) physical fear, this leave only one motivation for him to have felt apprehension: that he knew his argument was weak and would fail in the marketplace of ideas. Understand that human beings feel intimidated only when they see themselves in a vulnerable position. If in the battle of ideas you know fact and logic are on your side, you feel no threat because, as long as you demonstrate that adequately (a matter entirely under your control, not anybody else’s), you know you will triumph in any debate (that victory defined as certainty in demonstrating superior command of facts and their logical use, if not in an actual caucusing).

But if you know your arguments have holes in them, and/or that the facts are inconvenient to your side, the demonstration of any opposition brings forward that doubt, and feels intimidating. Maybe Edwards explicitly understand this, or perhaps it is at a subconscious level where he has yet to realize it, but, regardless, to make the kind of assessment that he did shows an intuitive grasp of the shortcomings of his position.

Edwards and his allies hope that people will just swallow whole what he’s selling, without critically appraising the argument. The presence of opponents to collect his information, signaling that this analysis will occur and be disseminated to assist thinking people in seeing the weakness of his argumentation, if called “intimidation” tells us more about the foibles of reform opponents’ agenda than describing any valid phenomenon present in the political process surrounding the question of reform adoption.


Anonymous said...

Oh, you are at it again. Let's point out some things.

Arguments DO NOT become "tired and discredited" because YOU declare them so.

Apparently, you have adopted the Administration's tactic of persuasion (and governing) by edict.

You know full well that does work in this country or this state.

Additionally, I note that the Administration's hand-picked President of BESE says that the education reform bills are FLAWED and need to be substantively amended.

I suspect you will now dose her with some of your politically scientific adjectives like "vapid", "dimwit" or "blithering idiot".

And, even further, it appears that the Governor does not want to slow down, listen to her and change them.

Please explain to us why?

Anonymous said...


I don't have a dog in this hunt about education reform.

But, I do know John Bel Edwards, and your disparaging comments about him are disgraceful.

Its OK to disagree with people, but you don't have to slander them because you do. That is adolescent.

Mr. Edwards served his country and has a tremendous education. Simply put, he is a leader.

You may not agree with him, but he does not deserve your distaste.

Ever think about apologizing?