This approach to opinion writing seems to generate an enormous amount of anger among my conservative critics.
For example, I recently pointed out that conservative women are concerned about many issues besides abortion, the only women’s issue on which conservative men seem fixated.
I also noted that, based on their outrageous statements about women’s reproductive health, some conservative men have exposed themselves as, at best, ignorant of the things that concern women and, at worst, hostile toward them.
Confronted with the facts I used to support this argument, readers responded with, of all things, Benghazi.
I’ll play along. Here are those facts:
Benghazi was investigated by the independent Accountability Review Board led by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, two men with impeccable credentials and unimpeachable integrity.
They determined everything that could be done was done to help the besieged American outpost in Benghazi. That help didn’t get there in time, Mullen told Congress in sworn testimony last year.
But inside the conservative bubble, such facts are ignored so Benghazi remains a “scandal” kept alive by conservatives who want us believe Mullen and Pickering would risk their reputations to protect Obama.
No they wouldn’t. They’re both retired and have nothing to gain or lose by letting the facts take them wherever they lead.
Changing the subject is a technique regularly practiced by the conservative media, from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh to some MDJ columnists; when confronted with the truth about conservative women and men, for example, conservatives respond with Benghazi or IRS or Obamacare or Fast and Furious.
It’s impossible for conservatives to stop the avalanche of facts, so they counter with lies, half-truths or distortions, none of which have anything to do with the argument.
Now wunderkind Ben Shapiro offers conservatives help in his book, “How to Debate Leftists and Destroy them: 10 Rules for Winning the Argument” (not “reason with” but “destroy”).
Shapiro’s rule number three advises readers to “frame your opponent.” He says a progressive will call you a racist or sexist, which might be true if you say something racist or sexist. Shapiro recommends that in such an instance you should call the liberal a “liar and hater.”
That will end most political discussions, but Shapiro has more advice. “Force leftists to answer questions.”
The economy? Steadily recovering. Unemployment? Republican House Speaker John Boehner won’t pass the president’s jobs bill. IRS? After the Citizens United decision the agency was inundated with tax exempt applications which it must review. Many happened to be from tea party groups.
Shapiro’s rule number six is interesting: “Do not get distracted.” He would seem to be telling conservatives to focus and not change the subject.
“If you don’t know something, admit it,” adds Shapiro. Conservatives should heed his advice when arguing issues like global warming or the Russian incursion into Ukraine.
The former is an indisputable fact among 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists. The latter is a complex geopolitical dilemma in which Russia has invaded the Autonomous Republic of Crimea where it maintains its Black Sea naval base.
With no American citizens or interests directly threatened, Obama is using appropriate diplomatic channels to settle the Ukraine crisis. That’s also true in other hot spots like Iran and Syria.
But because the president hasn’t reacted militarily, reactionaries claim Obama is weak.
I don’t need 10 rules. I have just one for winning debates. Present the truth.
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.