If the goal of the conservatives is to convince the independents and the low information voters that the progressive policies are flawed, conservatives must have credibility when they engage in policy debates. Further, I think that some conservatives are doing themselves and other conservatives a huge disservice by engaging in nick picking of issues that should be left alone. These are issues that even if the premise of the accusation were true, the premise would only show, at most, how disingenuous the statement is. Despite an innate need to prove to the rest of the world how disingenuous some progressives are, independents and the low information voter do not seem to care about the credibility of politicians. I have noticed that as a result of this kind of criticism by some conservatives, the credibility of all conservatives is weakened.
For example, last August, before the election, there was an issue whether or not the President had ever fired a shotgun. Keep in mind that every Presidential candidate has to have the obligatory shooting experience in order to the hold the Presidency. The White House had the President state that he shot all of the time at Camp David. Instead of dropping the issue, some conservatives pushed the authenticity of the statement. The White House promptly issued a photo of the President shooting a shotgun. Instead of letting the issue drop, some conservatives pushed the issue even further by critiquing the submitted photos of the President firing the shotgun. Criticisms were plentiful, focusing mainly on the President’s shooting stance. After many columns were written, many people, including conservatives, asked, “Who cares if the President is lying about this issue?”
The most recent example of non-credible criticism is the story of the umbrella and the Marines. Some conservatives recently leveled heavy criticism of President Obama over the outside press conference held with the Turkish Prime Minister. In the middle of the press conference, it started to rain. To keep the President and the Prime Minister dry, two Marines stood with an umbrella in one hand to cover these two world leaders. Keep in mind that these were two active-duty soldiers who were honoring their Commander- in-Chief and the leader of another country. Again, a lot of people, including conservatives, were left wondering, “What is the big deal?”
In my opinion, those conservatives who criticized the President over these types of issues did so to the detriment of themselves and other conservatives. I say this because many of the people whom they are trying to persuade are not only turned off by this type of argument, but they also will tune out the other conservatives who are trying to make logical debate on the real issues. If the targeted audience is not listening to anything that is presented to them, there is a complete loss of credibility no matter how important the issue may really be. In the case of the President shooting a shotgun: Does it really matter if he has shot a shotgun during his Presidency? Regarding the Marine holding the umbrella, conservatives should have heaped praised upon the two Marines’ commitment to service and their discipline instead of blasting the President’s conduct. I am still not sure what that bad conduct was. Regardless, such dialogue destroys conservative credibility.
Credibility cannot be built by chasing these rabbits of nuance. But, I will concede that at times that someone has to call “BS” on some of the factual statements issued by Progressives and in particular factual statements issued on behalf of the President. Conservatives should focus their debates over progressive policy positions and actions taken in furtherance of that policy. There is more than enough material there for conservatives to defeat progressive ideas without engaging in nick picking. The conservative message needs to be more directed, and less emotional.