Letters to the Editor

Sanctimonious rhetoric

In his Oct. 22 column, Victor Davis Hanson asks "What sends liberal criticism [of President Bush] over the edge into pathological hysteria?" Without agreeing to the "pathological hysteria" part of the question, I'll offer an answer: What disturbs us about President Bush is that he is never in doubt but frequently wrong. The same is true of Dr. Hanson himself.

Moreover, Dr. Hanson, who professes to be a classicist, violates all the rules of classical rhetoric, the purpose of which is not to insult one's opponents, nor even to "win" the argument, but to discover the truth or to find a reasonable solution to a problem.

Hyperbolic, loaded and insulting terms like "pathological hysteria," "unhinged billionaire leftist philanthropists," "left-wing savagery," and "feral Democrats" hardly further civil discourse. Characterizing Rep. John Murtha as "crotchety" does not demonstrate that Rep. Murtha's opinions are less worthy of consideration than Dr. Hanson's. Name-calling, ad hominem slurs, begging the question -- name any underhanded trick or perversion of the art of argumentation -- and you'll find it in Dr. Hanson's pieces about those whose political position he disagrees with.

And he sanctimoniously criticizes the rhetoric of Cindy Sheehan or Michael Moore. What gall.

Dorothy Sedley, Fresno

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