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One would have thought that a campaign run by the Former Vice President of the United States would be filled less with gaffes and more with overwhelming support from the democrats. At least this is what the right’s arguing. They argue that his age and his slip-ups have deemed him incompetent to run for commander in chief, and you would expect that the left would come to his aid. Yet it seems like Biden has been hung out to dry by his own party. As of right now, Biden has been attacked from the press on both sides with a fierceness that is usually reserved for President Trump. David Frech’s article mentions the fact that Biden isn’t running against the success of the past, he’s running against the arrogance of the present. So now the question arises, Is Biden really competent enough to run for president? Both sides have very much to say about this.
Ever since the start of the Biden campaign, reporters have flocked the potential president from every side. This, in turn, caused articles from both sides to be written at Mach speeds trying to one-up each other on the Biden Train. The two opposing articles that are mentioned in the article were both written by conservatives. However, the major difference and an important one at that was that one deemed Biden incompetent and the other the opposite. So, now the reader can come to the conclusion that Biden must be doing something right to appeal to the conservative demographic. The fact that Biden can generate a storm so strong that it attracts journalists to the sides of his campaign speaks to his ability to stay relevant despite the age gap between him and young reporters that cover him. This seems to be the argument that David French makes in his article for Biden. He points to his success within the democratic party and labels Biden’s shortcomings as moral flaws that victimize your average everyday person. While the article by Kevin D.Williamson breaks down Biden’s mental state to the last remaining drop of sanity. Williamson writes “Biden is incompetent to be president” and then proceeds to use a lot of Pathos to make his case.
Before reading David French’s article, one must have the warrant that Biden is indeed being attacked by his own party. The problem with this warrant is the fact that Biden is a very strong candidate and as we get closer to elections, these attacks are expected to occur. Most members of the democratic party see Biden as the only threat given his history as the V.P of the United States with the Obama Administration. One can expect that the candidates would bunch up on one major threat.
French’s article starts off by mentioning the successes of the democratic party of off Biden’s back, yet it fails to point out that the same victories that were achieved by the party were met with a huge amount of controversy. This is a blatant attempt at cherry-picking evidence. By setting up the first paragraph to come off strong he picks and chooses what he reveals to the reader and what he keeps hidden. In the first few lines, he mentions the 1994 Violent crime enforcement act. The paragraph explains the law, provides statistics and says that the law did not “play a material role in mass incarceration”. However, a quick fact check reveals that French conveniently forgets to mention the fact that the law did have amplified effects on mass incarceration in the U.S. The bill passed with bipartisan support, With the Clintons mentioning that the law was well-received among African American community leaders. However, a New York Times op-ed called this a “selective hearing’ of what African American leaders were asking for and points out that members of the Congressional Black Caucus asked for provisions in the bill that were left out”. French lines up the 1994 law to make it seem like it was well met but reality turned out to be very different.
French then continues, “First, it was passed with overwhelming Democratic support (including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus), which means that most of his present critics — had they been in office at the time — would have also voted for the bill.” The paragraph screams of fallacies but the most important ones are begging the question and a red herring. Firstly there is no real evidence that the present Black Caucus would vote for the bill. There have been no statements made from that regarding that matter. French loads the claim into the paragraph to make it seem like Biden still holds the support for the Caucus. Secondly, the red herring is the fact that French seems to forget that the parts of the law that the Black Caucus asked for were never implemented into the actual bill. He tosses the fish the readers’ way to force a change of perspective and, maybe, make them forget that the bill had left out more than it should have. A quick check reveals that ‘Policymakers pointed to black support for greater punishment and surveillance, without recognizing accompanying demands to redirect power and economic resources to low-income minority communities,’ according to the piece, written by three Ivy League professors of history and African American studies. ‘When blacks ask for better policing, legislators tend to hear more instead.’ (Lussenhop 1)
French than continues to really hammer in the point that the crime rate fell during the Clinton administration because of the proposed law. “Second, the Clinton administration presided over a truly historic decrease in the crime rate. Yes, that decrease has many causes, but it is still true that violent crime fell, property crimes fell and tens of thousands of men and women are alive today because their towns and cities are far, far safer than they were when Mr. Clinton took office.” French sets this paragraph up so that it gives the majority of the credit to the 1994 bill. However, a BBC article on the 1994 bill states “By the time the crime bill was passed, violent crime had begun its decline in the US. It would continue to plummet throughout the 1990s before leveling out in the early 2000s. Crediting a single piece of federal legislation is a stretch, says Mauer, and furthermore, the White House should have taken the decrease in crime rates that were already happening into consideration when it drafted the bill.”(Lussenhop 1) Evidence picked specifically to meet the claim that French is making. However, he does make a point to note down that Biden has been rather important to the party’s success. He calls out the Democrats by stating “It’s one thing to attack Mr. Biden’s vote on the Iraq war. That was a Republican administration’s policy; it faced substantial Democratic opposition; now even Republicans have largely rejected their own president’s great gamble. It’s another thing entirely to reject Democratic accomplishments of the recent past”. The part about Biden’s vote on the Iraq war is hurried over and is not mentioned again in the article. He doesn’t mention the fact that Biden’s vote on the war might not have sat well with others on the same platform. The red herring in this is that French distracts the reader from the vote to the fact that it was a republican policy and not Biden’s own.
He then closes his article by calling back to Joe Biden’s most significant achievements and telling readers that “his successes are now deemed not just failures, but moral flaws.” An attempt to use pathos, to evoke or at least try to evoke pity from the reader for Biden. French sets up his paragraphs well. He provides sources for everything he says and overall makes a good argument for Bide. It is hard to argue for politicians but French pulls it off really well.
Now to dissect Williamson’s Article. It starts with the words “there are two possible explanations of Joe Biden’s inability to tell the truth about things: One is that his mind is failing him, the other is that his honor is”. This is begging the question, ad hominem and non sequitur all bundled into his starting paragraph. He loads the fact that Joe Biden can’t tell the truth at all and does not provide any backing for it whatsoever. Than he attacks Bidens honor by saying that his honor and mind are failing and lastly he doesn’t give any actual reason for why Biden might be unfit for presidency apart from calling him incompetent.
He finally gives an example of why Biden should not be running for the presidency. He quotes a Washington Post article that basically says “detailed by the Washington Post, Biden made up a story in which he as vice president displayed personal courage and heroism in traveling to a dangerous war zone in order to recognize the service of an American soldier who had distinguished himself in a particularly dramatic way”. Cherry-picking at its finest, as a Snopes article on the same topic refutes the example mentioned by Williamson. Snopes states that the story is true, contradicting the details laid out by Williamson to lure readers into thinking of Biden as a liar.
Williamson than writes “The evidence points more toward moral disability than mental disability, inasmuch as Biden has a long career of lying about precisely this sort of thing.” But he gives no evidence. Except for the fact that Biden messed up key details about an encounter, Williamson gives no proof that Biden might be suffering from a disability. He then goes on a tangent about Biden lying about his wife and daughter dying in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver. “That is a pure fabrication, and a slander on the man who was behind the wheel of that truck and who was haunted by the episode until the end of his days. Imagine yourself in the position of that man’s family, whose natural sympathy for Biden’s loss must be complicated by outrage at his persistent lying about the relevant events”. The only part Biden messed up was the drunk driver part. The whole paragraph on the accident is a non sequitur. Why would the person who actually caused the crash feel bad if he is being called drunk 10+ years after the accident occurred? There was no honor in the truck driver that killed Biden’s wife and daughter but Willaimson does try his hardest to try and appeal the driver’s qualities to the reader and make Biden the Bad person in this scenario. This is a pathetic appeal to pathos and it doesn’t do anyone any favors. The reasoning defies all logic and It makes no matter what angle you look at it from. Most of this article is filled with hasty generalization in an attempt to get the reader to agree with him. He concludes his article with a few words for the Democrats “Joe Biden has exhausted whatever presumption of goodwill or benefit of the doubt we might have extended to him for the past 46 years. He has had his chance to show that he is a man capable of honor, integrity, and honesty — and he has failed that test at every turn. If there ever was a time for him, that time has passed. The last thing this country needs is another pathological liar in its highest office. He is unfit for the presidency in every way, and Democrats owe the country better than to nominate him in the pursuit of their own selfish partisan interests.” He doesn’t provide backing for any of the claims he makes in this conclusion. He attacks Biden by calling him a pathological liar. Then states that Biden is unfit for the presidency in every way. Yet the only reason he was able to give for Biden’s incompetence was the fact that Biden “Lies”.
Between the two articles, David French’s article was much better structured. It had substance and provide pretty solid sources for most things that he talked about. He provided questions, answered them and gave more than enough reasons to why Biden was a good fit for the presidency. Williamson’s article on the other hand just had one thing to say; that Biden is a liar. He gives no actual evidence to prove to the reader that Biden’s incompetent for the seat. He attempts to appeal the reader to the good side of a murderer and is unable to provide much more of anything apart from the above mentioned. He claims that can be easily refuted with a little common sense and logic and statements that stand no chance against a thorough fact check. David French’s article was better of the two by far. His appeal to ethos is the fact that he doesn’t use any ad hominem or insulting language to argue for Biden. Williamson, on the other hand, puts on a show of name-calling and other various insults, that takes away from his credibility.
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