(John is a brilliant former professor of mine at McCombs School of Business with whom I enjoy intense debates on Facebook. John is a conservative. Below I have posted the unedited transcripts of a recent Facebook debate with John. I think it speaks for iteself.)
Cyrus: Hate to sound like a broken record, but I hear more comments this morning about Obama increasing the deficit. Look at the numbers. It’s just not true! 2009 deficit was 1.2 trillion, which was projected by CBO 2 weeks before Obama came into office (i.e. it’s Bush’s deficit). The deficit is 1.1 trillion in 2012. Just factually incorrect to say he increased the deficit, nevermind the state of free fall the economy was in when he took office (hence the 1.2 trillion deficit announced for 2009 2 weeks before he took office!) Come on people!
John: Cyrus, you are not a broken record; you are just talking about the wrong issue. It is the DEBT that kills us. Today, America’s DEBT is $16.2 Trillion. On this day in 2008 (less than a month before Obama was elected) our DEBT was $10.4 trillion. On this day in 2000 (less than a month before George W Bush was elected) our DEBT was $5.7 trillion. So the harsh FACTS are that AMERICA’S DEBT HAS GROWN MORE IN 4 YEARS OF OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY THAN DURING 8 YEARS OF BUSH’S PRESIDENCY.
Cyrus: John, I have to think that you intentionally ignore the cause of our debt. First, I have shared the below graph with you before. It shows clearly that Obama’s policies are not even the plurality of the causes of the debt. Second, if the situation Obama was handed was so bad that 2 weeks before he took office CBO was already projecting a 1.2 TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT, then why in the world are you surprised that we would see similar deficits for 3 years? A good trillion of that debt, by the way, is the reason we’re not eating dog food today John. It’s convenient to oversimplify the issue by blabbering about “Obama raised the debt more than Bush”, but the “harsh” facts are that deficits create debt, and deficits don’t come out of your ass. They usually come out of Republican administrations…pursuing the kinds of policies that Mitt Romney has made his platform.
John: Cyrus, it is my understanding of your point that Obama is not responsible for anything that happened while he was president of the US. It was all Bush’s fault, right?
Cyrus: I made my point very clearly and it wasn’t that. Keep reading my post until you get it. See the light blue in the graph? That’s Obama’s contribution to the debt. You can also throw some of the orange in there since he acquiesced to Republican hostage taking of 3 million unemployed Americans who were about to run out of unemployment benefits and be made homeless and in exchange extended the Bush tax cuts for 2 more years. On the flip side, the big red bar for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: those are assuming that we end both wars! That’s largely the cost of veterans care for the 100k+ wounded. If Obama had done what Romney wanted and kept troops in both wars, we would have a much bigger red line on that graph. So let me turn the question around John: which part of that graph is due to Obama’s policies? 10%? 15%? Takes the bite out of your bark….and by the way, I love how Republicans had no problem putting 2 wars, 2 massive tax cuts, and even an expansion of Medicare on the credit card, but now that Obama inherits the mess they left him it’s all his fault. Give me a break. Last point: and Republicans want to double down on those policies that started ballooning the debt by electing Mitt Romney as President. I will work my ass off to make sure that doesn’t happen.
John: Cyrus, you have one vote, I have one vote. We cancel out each other . . . and I have a bigger pulpit than you do. So we will see what America decides next month.
Cyrus: I like how you didn’t respond to my argument when it doesn’t fit your narrative. Look at the cause of the debt John. Look at it then tell me honestly that you think it’s Obama’s fault. Just give me an answer John. Looking at the table, what % of the debt is from Obama’s policies? What %? Tell me honestly.
John: Actually, the war in Afghanistan was Bin Laden and the Taliban’s fault which actually was Clinton’s fault because he passed on killing Bin Laden when Osama was in Sudan.
Cyrus: Well John, if those huge portions of the debt were Clinton and Bin Laden’s fault, then why do you keep blaming Obama for them? Forget about how hypocritical of a position you just articulated: answer my question. Look at the graph and tell me the % of the causes of the debt that is Obama’s fault. Your original assertion (parroting the Republican party line and Romney’s own repeated statements) was that Obama increased the debt more than any President ever. So look at that graph and tell me how much of the debt is from Obama’s policies. Give me a number.
John: Here is your number, Cyrus. Right from your man’s mouth. “He promised to cut the deficit in half” by the end of his first term. He. Promised. He. Didn’t. Do. It. In my world, if you don’t do what you promise, you don’t get rewarded. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaQUU2ZL6D8
Cyrus: John, you’ve managed to evade answering the question 3 times now. I’m not going to discuss anything with you if you will not answer the question. so far you’ve managed to talk about Obama’s promise, blame Afghanistan on Bin Laden and Clinton, and brag that you have a larger audience than I. You have still to look at the graph and tell me from the graph what percentage of the graph is Obama’s share of the current debt. Tell me the number from the graph John. I’m starting to draw a conclusion here: you find it easy to make a statement about “Obama increased the debt more than any other President” but when you’re presented with the causes of the debt and challenged to defend your claim, you just dodge and duck. Will you stand behind your statement? I saw that you made it repeatedly on your Facebook page in other posts. Look at the graph and tell me what % of the debt was from Obama’s Policies. Please do so in your next response. I’ve pasted it again below for your convenience: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/files/2012/08/Debt-graph-CBPP.jpeg
John: So, we have a deal
Cyrus: so you cant answer the question John? I’m dedicating a new section of my blog to you. case study in making statements you cant back up. really disappointing!
John: Of course I can answer your question, but your approach to “discussions” saddens me. You have an uncontrollable need to demonize your opponents. You show minimal interest in reaching across the ideological divide. I’ve been traveling around this country giving speeches to people who want solutions, not foul mouth bomb throwers. I respect your passion for your cause, but have concluded that there simply is no way to have a civil conversation on these issues with you. So I won’t try anymore. Feel free to blog away, but understand this. I am not a “public figure” as defined by lible and slander laws. Over and out, Cyrus. Over and out.
Cyrus: John, you drive me totally crazy. You make a statement then someone offers evidence against it then instead of countering the argument you just make another statement. You never defend your position in a logical way that would pass a logical test. It is no way to argue. It’s a mix of logic in rhetoric that has holes all through it but still allows you to claim the high ground. It’s very frustrating and I just wish you would backup your arguments rather than throw 1 argument on top of another until the point is completely lost then accuse me of being a bomb thrower because I call you on it. Honestly I just don’t think you can admit when your wrong. You made a factual statement about Obama’s causing debt then I presented evidence that shows the cause of the debt and asked you to backup your statement based on my evidence. You were unable to do it and so instead you try to distract from the argument rather than admit you are wrong. I challenge you again at night in your bed to think about this graph think about the percentage of the debt that this graph shows was caused by Obama. The answer is not debatable. Over and out.
Later that night, in another similar debate where John repeated the same argument about Obama raising the debt by $6 trillion, someone else posted the identical graph in response to John’s identical claim. Again, John did not address the evidence. At the bottom of that post, I summarized the above discussion as follows:
Cyrus: Rick, I have spent the entire day today asking John to back up his claim that the debt is Obama’s fault given the causes of the debt in this graph (reposted below). In the course of 6 posts back and forth, in each one I challenged John to look at this graph and tell me how much of the debt is Obama’s fault. First John responded claiming that I blame Bush for everything. I responded asking him to tell me from the graph what percent of the debt is due to Obama’s policies. Next John boasted that he has a larger audience than I. I repeated my challenge for him to tell me from the graph how much of the debt is Obama’s fault. His next response was to look at the graph and claim that the big chunk of the debt due to the continued costs of the war in Afghanistan was the Osama Bin Laden’s fault, which in turn was Bill Clinton’s fault for not taking out Bin Laden. I responded that if that’s the case (as crazy as that statement is), then how is it Obama’s fault. Again, for a third time I challenged him to tell me what % of the debt from the below graph is due to Obama’s policies. John’s fourth response was to post a video of Obama promising to reduce the debt and claiming that this is all that matters. My response for the fourth time was to ask John to show me how much of the debt was due to Obama’s policies, to point out that he has for a fourth time avoided answering the question, and that I refuse to debate him if he continues to blatantly avoid supporting his arguments in a logical way. His fifth response was to simply accept the proposition that I don’t debate him any more. I replied that I was very disappointed and that I would post our correspondence on my blog as evidence of someone who makes grand statements but refuses to back it up. His sixth and final response was to accuse me of bomb throwing and to warn me that he is not a “public official” and thus he can sue me for defamation. After an entire day of debating, John avoided answering the question that would challenge his premise that the growth in the debt is Obama’s fault: look at the below graph and tell me what % of the below graph is due to Obama’s policies. John won’t answer the question because the answer runs counter to the narrative he supports. Rather than getting into the nitty-gritty and possibly being proven wrong, he just lays more statements that supports his narrative on top of his original one and never actually faces the possibility that he may be proven wrong. It’s what the right-wing media does. It’s shameful and disappointing and I could have sworn that he disavowed this approach to debating just a few weeks ago….so here, again, for a final time, I challenge John to look at the below graph and tell me and you and all of his “audience”: what percentage of the debt shown in the below graph is due to Obama’s policies? To me, it looks like maybe 10% to 15%, which calls into question the entire line of attack. But what does John say? I doubt you will ever know, because the answer isn’t one that convenient…if you’d like to see the original back and forth I will be posting it on my blog, unedited, in the next day or two.