one of the characteristic rhetorical moves of reality based conservatives. They are few, so the sample is small, but the trick seems to be a mixture of moving to abstraction and setting up straw men. So the line is Simpson is ignorant, but the liberal strawman who says demographics has nothing to do with social security is wrong too. Or Ryan's plan cause earlier deaths and would not balance the budget, but the liberal strawman who insists that Medicare not be reformed at all is wrong too.
I will not try to find three other examples of the trick 1) the fact that this conservative (person, proposal, claim, theory, hypothesis) is demonstrably absurd doesn't answer all remotely related questions and 2) there must be some liberal who thinks something stupid about a remotely related question so I will debate him (or her) without necessarily finding even a nut in a comment thread to quote.
Time Stamp 3:15 AM Rome time.
OK back time stamp 48 minutes that I will never be able to regain later. I feel like a fool. I shouldn't even have thought of possible abusers of the rhetorical trick other than David Brooks. Also googling I find lots of conservatives dump on him too. Comes with the territory I guess.
This was harder than I thought it would be. Part of the problem is that I am limited to reality based conservatives and there aren't many left. Also google can't handle something as abstract as "a conservative says something stupid, a reality based conservative tries to distract by talking about the broader question and criticizing a liberal straw man"
After some efforts I tried googling "straw man" "david brooks"
my brooks is often criticized for setting up straw men. This criticism is very valid in this case
where the column opens with a full paragraph of setting up straw men (plus Rumsfeld).
OK I think I've found the Treasure trove. Crooks and Liars David Brooks hashmark.
First click is pure paydirt. Brooks responds to criticism of Breitbarts slander of Shirley Sherrod by refuting the liberal straw man who says all conservatives are racist. Note no quote of even a nut in a comment thread (such as myself). Note move to total abstraction leaving Breitbart and the case under discussion as fast as possible.
OK here the conservative(s) are the majority on the Citizen's United decision. Brooks decides the issue is total fundraising and notes that Obama raised a lot of money. He's moved from citizens united to political fund raising in general and is arguing that Democrats raise money too. I count it
This is it. The reason I searched only for Brooks and the example I had in my mind when claiming that Salam's post fits a broader pattern. Brooks on Ryan. The issue is whether there should be a discussion of Medicare and not whether Ryan's proposal is a good proposal. Evidently liberal straw man thinks there shouldn't be any discussion of any possible reform (that's why liberal straw man hated the ACA -- damn liberal straw man reminds me of Jane Hamsher).
OK here's another (I admit my second example is weak).
That shouldn't have taken so long. Basically I count all but one C&L post on Brooks which I read. The one which didn't fit the pattern is about how a Republican Senator kept his hand on Brooks's inner thigh for a whole dinner party -- no straw men there and admirable specificity (he didn't say if it was his left or right inner thigh and no I'm not saying that only a man feeling Brooks up can make him notice the specific and mere facticity).