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Norah Vincent Spins an Illogical GOP Rant

November 17, 2002

Re "The Bleating of the Cushioned Classes," Commentary, Nov. 14: Norah Vincent's column is a disingenuous piece of Republican spin. According to Vincent, if a person is "living the American dream," he or she is hypocritical to care about the environment, civil rights or the separation of church and state.

There are obviously many rich Republican CEOs who are not hypocritical; they have paid themselves lavish salaries while running their companies into the ground, cheated and lied to their shareholders and have asked for and received special treatment from the government. Certainly they have nothing to fear from the results of the last election.

But I have much to fear: I believe that President Bush's policies will run this country into the ground as sure as Bush's good friend destroyed Enron. Campaign contributions will dictate his policies and greed will rule.

Elaine Fresco

Los Angeles

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Speaking of middle-class voters who presume to voice distress at the recent Republican sweep of Congress, Vincent writes: "An inverse relationship seems to exist between how good this country has been to certain people and the flimsiness of the pretexts on which they not only disparage but also betray it -- in spirit and careless words, if not in deeds."

In other words, for middle-class voters to express anything other than wholehearted approval of Republican policies amounts to treason -- a sentiment that would seem to amply justify the middle-class Democratic apprehensions she derides ("the specter of jackbooted Republicans banging home their belligerent agenda in Congress untrammeled by sensible dissent"). Thus ever conservatism: irate, resentful and searching for enemies to denounce, even in victory.

William F. Bennett

Somerville, Mass.

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As an English instructor at Cal State Bakersfield, I regularly read your Commentary page to show my students how to create a logical, well-crafted, succinct argument. I also get to read Vincent, whom I would like to personally thank. One of the hardest concepts for my students to grasp is the notion of a fallacious claim.

Fortunately, I can regularly turn to Vincent for examples of ad hominem, poisoning the well and the genetic fallacy. Rather than presenting her claims or logically critiquing those of her opponent, Vincent -- choosing to ignore the argument itself -- consistently attacks a claim's environment, whether that be the person making the claim, the present circumstances surrounding the claim or the history in which the claim was fashioned. Her commentaries never fail to provide my students with examples of illogic at work.

Matthew Woodman

Bakersfield

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