Strawman Fallacy, Checker’s Speech, Richard Nixon

“Not one cent of the $18,000 or any other money of that type ever went to me for my personal use. Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses”

-Checker’s speech

Strawman fallacy or Aunt Sally fallacy is a fallacy in which an opponent’s argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be more easily attacked or refuted.

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In US one senator supported stem cell research, his opponents argued that he was supporting use of unborn babies for medical research- classical Strawman fallacy.

Leftist politicians in India (for that matter all over world) are famous for such arguments. Any policy towards land acquisition is seen as capitalist conspiracy to destroy India’s independence (ignoring the fact that communist government acquired land of farmers with strong arm tactics in Bengal)

DIlbert-fallacies[1]

“But just let me say this last word. Regardless of what happens I’m going to continue this fight. I’m going to campaign up and down America until we drive the crooks and the Communists and those that defend them out of Washington”

-Checker’s speech

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President Nixon of US was accused of misappropriation of election funds ($18000), but during televised speech to nation, he shifted his argument from election funds to gift he had taken- a dog called Checkers, which his children were very fond of and he was not going to return the gift. The speech was big hit, people forgot about election funds, but only remembered Checkers. It is called as Checkers speech.

“It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl—Tricia, the 6-year-old—named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

-Checker’s speech

Checker’s speech- a Strawman fallacy- helped Nixon to win elections and become Vice President. He later became president of US and finally lost his presidency due to Watergate scandal.

 

But Nixon had mastery in strawman fallacy- after resigning (due to Watergate scandal) instead of admitting mistakes; he gave speech with strawman fallacy.

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“Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

-Nixon, post-Watergate scandal.

 

 

 

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