It's occurred to me recently that Republicans -- and specifically, presidential candidates -- may need a brush-up course on how to make analogies. They keep coming up with analogies that don't work.
Let me set the stage for the first example:
On Monday of this week, Obama was in Turkey for the G20 Summit, and during a press conference, he said this:
“When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful, that’s not American, that’s not who we are”, Obama said during a G20 press conference, making a not-so-thinly veiled reference to the reckless rhetoric of GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, whose parents fled to the United States from Cuba.Later that same day, CNN's Dana Bash got a chance to ask Cruz about this:
“What would have happened if your father, who was trying to get from Cuba to the United States, and the political leaders said, ‘Nope, we don’t think so, because who knows? Maybe you could be somebody who could, you know, commit crimes against Americans,’” CNN’s Dana Bash asked the Texas senator during an interview on Monday, pointing out Cruz’s apparent hypocrisy.
“See, that’s why it’s important to define what it is we’re fighting,” Cruz said. “If my father were part of a theocratic and political movement like radical Islamism that promotes murdering anyone who doesn’t share your extreme faith or forcibly converting them, then it would have made perfect sense,” Cruz said.
Okay, there's a problem with that, and it's that nobody, repeat nobody, is claiming that even one of, much less all of, the 10,000 refugees we're pledging to resettle here are radical Islamists, or belong to any group whatsoever that promotes murdering people who are not like them, yatta yatta. Refugees to this country have traditionally been, and will continue to be, subjected to an intense screening that takes up to two years -- more than long enough to test the patience of any self-respecting terrorist who, I'm sure, could easily find a better way to sneak into the country, and probably one in which he wouldn't be caught -- which he would be, under our rigorous admissions process.
A better analogy to the Syrians would be U.S. authorities putting Ted's dad, Rafael, on a list of people going through a two-year process of applying for entry, and he wouldn't be given the okay until it had been absolutely determined, beyond a doubt, that he would not present a danger to the country -- such as being a member of some communist organization, or whatnot.
As far as I know, Rafael Cruz never went through anything like that back in 1957, despite his (at least claim of having) fought for Fidel Castro, someone who was soon thereafter to become our enemy. How the guy got in so easily, since he was allegedly a rebel, fighting against our ally, is a mystery in itself. Maybe they should have screened him more carefully, as we now know he did bring a threat to the United States, if only indirectly.
My second example is what Ben Carson said recently:
“For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably gonna put your children out of the way,” Carson said. “Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.”Carson caught lots of criticism for comparing Syrians to dogs, which an insider-type politician with more experience would have seen coming.
I think a better analogy would be this:
"Let's say you see five or six puppies running around your neighborhood. You're probably not going to assume something bad about those puppies, such as that they have rabies or anything, and probably not gonna put your children out of the way. Instead of assuming the worst, you'll probably try to figure out what you can do to protect them from getting hurt, have a vet give them vaccinations, and maybe then even try to find them homes."
Or, if you prefer, make that five or six kittens, which works just as well. I realize that's not the point that President Brain Surgeon was trying to make, but I don't care. At least my analogy actually works.
And for my third example, there's Donald Trump:
Speaking to Sean Hannity, of Fox News, on Tuesday, Trump said that, in order to forestall possible attacks on American soil, the federal government might have to close down synagogues. “Nobody wants to say this, and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions,” Trump said. But, he continued, “There’s absolutely no choice. Some really bad things are happening, and they are happening fast.”Okay, to be fair, his statement wasn't really an analogy, but only turned into one once I "improved" it.
And yes, he actually said "mosques", but can't you almost hear him say "synagogues"? I guess Trump could argue that it's all our Jews that are the problem, since all Muslims hate Jews and maybe that's why they're all trying to come here in the first place, just to kill our Jews! What, that doesn't make sense? Okay, but does it make any less sense than anything else he says, such as saying we may have to keep a database of all Muslims and shut down their mosques?
Although truthfully, it could just as easily have been Presbyterian churches, which have already proven themselves a danger to American society, since Presbyterianism is what seemingly brought us Donald Trump.
And the truth is -- and I know I would probably get into lots of trouble for saying this if anybody actually read the stuff I write -- the truth is, when it comes to assessing real threats to our country, I actually fear a Trump presidency more than I fear an ISIS takeover, largely because a Trump takeover of this country seems a lot closer to ever happening.
Go ahead, admit it! Don't you, too?