As fact checkers busily highlight the myriad number of lies and distortions offered by Mitt-Etch-A-Sketch-Romney during last night's debate, and the spinners spin their polls with impunity, I find it interesting that the debate tactic itself has not yet been discussed nor properly analyzed. In fact, the lies and distortions offered by Romney in last night's debate are the very ESSENCE of his tactic -- and is therefore quite pertinent to the discussion. Romney used a debate tactic known as the Gish Gallop.
The Urban Dictionary defines the Gish Gallop thusly:
Named for the debate tactic created by creationist shill Duane Gish, a Gish Gallop involves spewing so much bullshit in such a short span on that your opponent can’t address let alone counter all of it. To make matters worse a Gish Gallop will often have one or more 'talking points' that has a tiny core of truth to it, making the person rebutting it spend even more time debunking it in order to explain that, yes, it's not totally false but the Galloper is distorting/misusing/misstating the actual situation. A true Gish Gallop generally has two traits.It is quite apparent to those of us who have closely followed this election, that this latest sketch drawn out by Romney completely contradicts major policy ideas stumped on the campaign trail by him over the last few months. Since Obama could no longer debate the substance (or lack thereof) of Romney''s policy ideas, it threw Obama off his game. We have seen Romney do this before in the primaries. Obama needs to be prepared for it in future debates. Call it Etch-A-Sketch, call it the Gish Gallop, call it lies...it's all about the same. But it is a known debate tactic. And, like Romney, it is dishonest.
1) The factual and logical content of the Gish Gallop is pure bullshit and anybody knowledgeable and informed on the subject would recognize it as such almost instantly. That is, the Gish Gallop is designed to appeal to and deceive precisely those sorts of people who are most in need of honest factual education.
2) The points are all ones that the Galloper either knows, or damn well should know, are totally bullshit. With the slimier users of the Gish Gallop, like Gish himself, its a near certainty that the points are chosen not just because the Galloper knows that they're bullshit, but because the Galloper is deliberately trying to shovel as much bullshit into as small a space as possible in order to overwhelm his opponent with sheer volume and bamboozle any audience members with a facade of scholarly acumen and factual knowledge.
ON EDIT: Top of the rec list! Wow! Thanks! Just FYI, in the intro, I provided a hyperlink to the wiki explanation of the Gish Gallop, just in case you are looking for more information on it.
On a happier note, please allow me to share this joke floating around the internet today:
Snow White, Superman and Pinocchio are walking along.
They see a sign: "Contest for World's Most Beautiful Woman." Snow White goes in, later comes out smiling, wearing a crown.
They walk along and see another sign: "Contest for World's Strongest Man." Superman goes in, later comes out smiling, wearing the belt.
They walk along and see a sign: "Contest for World's Greatest Liar." Pinocchio goes in, later comes out with his head down crying.
"Who the hell is Mitt Romney?" Pinocchio sobs.