Ran across this on On Voting Records and I thought it was appropriate for here as well. He begins by offering this little formula “My opponent voted x times for/against y. X times!” and then writes:
No doubt the candidates are uttering such in the debate at this moment. The problem with this for of rhetoric is that a vote is a binary fact which lacks commentary. That is, someone can make a factual point by saying my opponent voted x times for y, but the reasons for the votes are not addressed. In the current political climate it is popular to accuse ones opponent of voting against funding for the military (or for our troops). However, it is likely that the opponent voted against not out of a desire to defund the troops, but because some detail of the bill was unacceptable (for example, time tables and financing). Voting for or against a bill and supporting or not supporting an issue are not the same thing.
I have misgivings when either candidate pulls out the “he voted this, this many times,” in the same way that I don’t particularly like either party explaining (i.e. spinning) the policies of their rival. I know it’s going to happen, but I always suspect there is at least one other side to that story. I appreciate Dan’s point that drawing on problems in this way relies on a binarism that needs to be given a commentary or history. Your thougths?