Talk:Discrediting tactic

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Ethics

Nice page, Ed. It gets the point across. I've tweaked it a bit for NPOV.

BTW, you did mean CERN rather than Cerf, didn't you? If not, please change it back. Stormwriter

No, I meant Vint Cerf -- the "Father of the Internet". Read the Wikipedia's Al Gore article. I picked the Gore-Internet thing because (A) I really appreciate the Internet, so I feel grateful to anyone who helped it along; and (B) because much as I despise Gore's politics I feel it's even more important not to tell lies about someone. The Golden Rule, okay? --Ed Poor
Ah, I see. Having not read the Gore article, when I saw "Cerf" in reference to the 'Net I thought "CERN." Sorry for the mixup.

Yes, Ed, thanks again for making a little peace with a pretty good article.

In fairness it would be good to give an example from the Republican side.

As I said elsewhere, it would make sense to put the article under discrediting tactics in politics or perhaps some other title. Political rhetoric is of course a big and even academically studied topic, so it would be best if we could find an established name. Care to do a little research...? --Larry Sanger


This article mentions "allegations of corruption" as a discrediting tactic, but what if someone really is corrupt? In that sense, it fails to distinguish between mere mudslinging one the one hand and the legitimate evaluation of the personal qualifications of an elected representative. That is to say, the article tends to suggest that elected representatives should somehow be immune from any consideration of their personal characteristics, because that is mere "mudslinging". This would imply anyone who suggests that Jim Traficant's ethical lapses and legal problems makes him unqualified as an elected representative, despite his having been evicted by the House of Representatives, is merely engaging in "mudslinging" or "discrediting tactics".

In order to clarify this this point, the article needs to make clear that in a representative democracy, the personal characteristics of a representative may indeed have an impact on their fitness for their elected office. It then needs to discuss that the questions that affect whether something counts as "mudslinging" depends on several factors, such as a) is the allegation true? b) even if it is true, is it relevant to their fitness for office? Thus mudslinging may be used to discredit the beliefs that a person stands for (which would be inappropriate), but it may also be used to question the fitness for public office of a given politician (which may or may not be appropriate). Does Jim Traficant's corruption make him fit or unfit for office? What if Bill Clinton slept with that woman? Is a man with low intelligence unfit for the most powerful office in the world? There is a lot of debate on what makes a person fit for office. Almost the entire Republican Party in Congress thought that Bill Clinton was not fit for office, based on his alleged purgery in the Whitewater investigation. Was that merely mudslinging on their part or not? If this article is going to even attempt to be NPOV, it can't simply assume that criticisms of the fitness for office of an elected representative are automatically bad. The fact is that people don't all agree on what criteria matter for fitness for office, but almost everyone agrees that there are some personal criteria.

Some things that might be relevant to this issue include Traficant, Abscam, Wilbur Mills, George Bush's intelligence, Adam Clayton Powell's explusion from Congress in 1967. soulpatch

Please write an article on the idea you mentioned above: in a representative democracy, the personal characteristics of a representative may indeed have an impact on their fitness for their elected office. --Ed Poor
Does it need another article? My point was to suggest that this detail belongs here in this article. soulpatch
I am one of the most experienced contributors: take it from me, for a subject so contentious as this a separate article is better. You just praised me for a "nice page [that] gets the point across". I look forward to returning the favor. (And if that doesn't convince you that I never thought of you as an "idiot", then I'm sorry for my remarks.)
No problem, Ed. Unfortunately, I hastily went in and edited the article before I saw your latest comment here in the Talk page. So now of course I feel a little guilty. :) If you think that my additions are inappropriate, feel free to revert them. I just don't have the time to put together a full article on the subject.
soulpatch: I thought the stuff you put in and then just reverted was pretty interesting and sensible, useful observations on the role of character in a democracy. I would add that, in the case of the President, being both the head of state and the leader of the government complicates the issue. Also, there are scandals (British cabinet and callgirl Christine Keeler) where the character failing has a direct connection to the value of the governance (she was sleeping with Soviet diplomats too). For that matter, the suppression of JFK's rich and full love life cut us off from knowing that he was sleeping with a woman who was the girlfriend of the number-one mobster in Chicago. That is, I think your material was well worthwwhile to remain, be edited, be added to, etc. Ortolan88 21:28 Nov 8, 2002 (UTC)
Yeah, don't take my "make a new article" suggestion too seriously. If you and Ortolan can stuff the ideas into Discrediting tactics so much the better. I don't use the Internet on weekends (for personal reasons), so have at it -- and I look forward to seeing the finished product on Monday. Cheers. --Ed Poor 21:37 Nov 8, 2002 (UTC)

Okay, thanks for the feedback, Ed and Ortolan88. I reverted my changes back in. soulpatch


This page still needs to be moved to a more precise title. --Larry Sanger


There is nothing wrong with discrediting someone whose competence or worth are relevant to their public office.

This article should not imply that discrediting tactics are always "bad". Just that they're generally partisan.

We can give examples of discrediting by Republicans vs. Democrats in US politics (either way).

  • Republicans impugned Clinton's morality, claiming that "cheating on one's wife" is a disqualifying character defect (Democrats said it wasn't relevant)
  • Democrates impugned Bush's intelligence, saying that verbal gaffes show a disqualifying intelligence defect (Republicans said it wasn't relevant).

--Ed Poor


This section should be eliminated, or worked into a new and separate article:

The role of politician's personalities in the democratic process[edit]

The public portrayal of the character and personality of politicians and political candidates plays an important role in American politics, but the degree to it matters to the voters often differs considerably. Both the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives have ethics committees, for example, and may act against their fellow members if they violate certain codes of conduct, even though those members were elected by the democratic process. In the past, congressmen such as Jim Traficant and Adam Clayton Powell have been expelled from Congress over ethics issues. One US President, Bill Clinton, was impeached over allegations of purjury, but many voters and his supporters disagreed with this action. Thus the criteria over what character traits, whether they be related to corruption or intelligence, are often the subject of heated debate. Thus character traits are used by opponents of politicians to discredit them, either for political gain or merely for satiric effect.

Partisan politics also plays an important role in this question. To a certain extent, the flip side of the use of discrediting tactics is the case of extreme party loyalty. Party loyalty may blind a partisan to the faults in the candidates or representatives of their own party. The partisan may ignore or deny the deficient qualities of the party's candidates, out of fear that to do so would somehow discredit their ideology or damage their party's electoral strength. An example of this are the Yellow dog Democrats, a colorful term describing voters who are said to vote for a Democrat even if the candidate was a yellow dog. This also comes into play in the investigation of political scandals. Members of Congress are extremely reluctant to investigate scandals by a President of their own party. It is doubtful that the Republicans would have investigated the Watergate scandal, or that Democrats would have investigated Whitewater. Thus the partisan politics of the opposition party plays a key role as serving as a check against the unbridaled power of the party in office.

Using personal attacks to discredit a viewpoint is not, however, the same thing as using such attacks to question the qualifications of an elected representative. The latter is one of the important tools that a voting electorate has in order to evaluate the fitness for office of a politician. Thus while a politician may express valid ideas that the voting electorate may agree with, his or her personal qualifications for office are fair game for criticism. However, there is much disagreement among voters as to what personal characteristics may render a politician unfit for office. The very debate over this question thus represents an important part of the democratic process.

There was no reason to remove these paragraphs from this article. I will put the paragraphs back in. soulpatch

I'm concerned about these claims:

It is doubtful that the Republicans would have investigated the Watergate scandal, or that Democrats would have investigated Whitewater.

These statements, whether or not they are true, amount to pure speculation. I don't think there are any hard facts at all that show us that Republicans would not have investigated Watergate. Of course, I would admit, Democrats would not likely have investigated Whitewater, but had Clinton been a Republican, there would not have been any investigation by the Republicans. The issue with Whitewater was that there was nothing to investigate. And that's a statement you might disagree with, but the point is that these statements do not serve as good examples. Simply put, whatever we might say about these statemetns amounts to speculation, not fact. This isn't an article about the merits of the Watergate or Whitewater investigation, so why implicate these issues? Acsenray 20:41, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

some irrelevant content moved here[edit]

I removed the following text from the article, as it is clearly impertinent to the article subject:

Partisan politics also plays an important role in this question. To a certain extent, the flip side of the use of discrediting tactics is the case of extreme party loyalty. Party loyalty may blind a partisan to the faults in the candidates or representatives of their own party. The partisan may ignore or deny the deficient qualities of the party's candidates, out of fear that to do so would somehow discredit their ideology or damage their party's electoral strength. An example of this are the Yellow dog Democrats, a colorful term describing voters who are said to vote for a Democrat even if the candidate were a yellow dog.

This also comes into play in the investigation of political scandals. Members of Congress are extremely reluctant to investigate scandals by a president of their own party. Thus the partisan politics of the opposition party plays a key role as serving as a check against the unbridled power of the party in office.

besides being digressive it also seems to be personal opinion. --Calm 22:00, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Global Viewpoint[edit]

Added the globalize template to the article, as it is focused mainly on the American electoral system, while discrediting tactics are used everywhere in the world. Crisco 1492 (talk) 06:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

US politics and NPOV[edit]

I removed the following for egregious non-NPOV: "Allegations made by Democrats during the 2008 American presidential Election that Republicans were racists, clearly swayed the election, but were later discredited as libel. Dred Scott v: Sanford proved that allegations of racism were party fabrications. Regardless the truth, many persons still hold with this view." -- Kyle Maxwell (talk) 04:09, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Too much emphasis on politics[edit]

also applies more generally eg in the workplace.--Penbat (talk) 17:03, 16 January 2015 (UTC)