cage and frame

Drill Here, Drill Now: Return of Cage and Frame

promoted -- cho

As a philosopher concerned with logic and language, political speech provides ready to hand examples of standard fallacies from opponent caricaturing ad hominem attacks to position misconstruing strawman arguments. But we should take note of a intricate rhetorical ploy that has that is dominating the discourse from the McCain campaign recently, specifically in the cases of off-shore drilling and the efficacy of the surge. We can call this trick the "cage and frame" strategy.

Every politician has subjects he or she wants to keep from discussing and tries to keep them hidden away safely out of view in a rhetorical cage. Candidates usually take their cue from magicians by employing a tactic of misdirection – hey, look over there, it’s someone burning a flag while taking the Ten Commandments from a courthouse. This move, what logicians call a "red herring," is generally effective. But if the topic is urgent, a more sophisticated bit of sophistry is required.