Home >> Opinion >> Verbal Sparring Over Iran Deal Highlights Larger Political Common Sense Deficit

Verbal Sparring Over Iran Deal Highlights Larger Political Common Sense Deficit

With the reputation of the Obama administration over its negotiated deal with Iran, the heated defense mounted by Kerry and other officials is hardly surprising, nor is the equally impassioned response by Republican candidates.

Both sides display an utter deficit of common sense. Most notably, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee rather bombastically likened Obama’s actions to leading the Israelis to the doors of the internment camp ovens.

Not to be outdone, Obama shot back by asserting this was Huckabee saying he was the leading sponsor off state terror.

Is there truth in Huckabee’s characterization? Probably. Does it matter? No, because Obama has the moral high ground from which to launch his attack in self-defense. And he did, claiming he doesn’t engage in ad hominem attacks, a hard statement to stomach from a man who once referred to Tea Partiers with a vile sexual slur, joked about John Boehner’s orange-tinted skin, called Paul Ryan’s budget proposal un-American, declined to denounce administration officials in instances where they likened conservatives to domestic terrorists and referred to the Israeli prime minister as a synonym for fowl defecation.

Politicians trading insults then crying about the incivility of American discourse is nothing new, nor is it really significant as it does nothing to alter the facts of an issue.

The problem lies in that this verbal sparring, not the facts, has become the sole focus of political discourse.

Language matters, that in and of itself is tautologous. So long as that language is coupled to fact and rational advocation and defense of it, public discourse works. When language becomes nothing more than bromides flung like poisoned barbs at an enemy to distract from the lack of fact and logic behind a position, discourse is hollow, traveling in a circle on the heated rails of impulse alone.

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Attack, react, build venial insults into a roaring inferno of fire. It accomplishes nothing, but generates press. And whoever is put on the defense, even if right is on their side, usually comes out looking petty and mean.

Meanwhile, the facts at the heart of the issue are forgotten.

These tactics almost exclusively benefit liberals, whose central message of empathy flourishes in these frenetic tussles.

Politicians, and societal actors in general, need to be more wary of how they speak.

This is not to say that conservatives should allow messaging to be dictated by fear of interpretation or response. This would be a form of rhetorical tyranny that would be the death of their ideology.

But it’s foolish to deny, especially with a dishonest media, that words said imperfectly in the heat of the moment, become major media campaigns, coming back to haunt the unfortunate orator sometimes months later. That politician might be hurt, but it’s the empirical facts behind good public policy that are really wounded by such lazy rhetoric.

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About Katherine Revello

A recent graduate of the University of Maine, where she majored in journalism and political science, Katherine Revello is an aspiring political commentator. Her focuses include theory, the philosophy of money and populism. Currently, she is a graduate student at Villanova University. She is the founder of The Politics of Discretion, a blog dedicated to advancing her philosophy of discretionism. Follow her on Twitter: @MrsWynandPapers


  1. Kathrine, it’s refreshing to read your commentaries, even if I differ, they are informative and exhibit a great deal of thought and understanding. Perhaps, best of all, they often validate my own preceptive..

    I, like you, can understand where Huckabee was coming from with his statement without justifying it.
    I see it like Crus’z accusations on the Senate Floor, along with Rand Paul on FOX telling us how smart and clever he is to find a loophole that allows him to circumvent procedure to knowingly bring a bill to vote that doesn’t have a chance to pass. They are quite like the kid in the back of the classroom, frantically waving his hand, hollering “ME! ME! vying for attention.l (To me) this indicates either a lack of self-confidence and/or desperation….not particularly appealing characteristics in a true leader.

    In contrast, Scott Walker told Neil Cavuto on FOX that he believes that the voters are interested in the what and how a candidate will serve them and will leave others to their campaign tactics.

    2016 certainly will be a study of human behavior….and we all need to do our homework.

  2. The House and Senate should not be wasting time on this Iran Nuclear Agreement, That time would be better spent impeaching the architects agreement.