The Dandy Versus Rough Around the Edges: Nod Goes to Hogan

I suppose this will be what passes for a fair debate on NewsChannel 8, with no obvious prejudice but with The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson asking repeatedly one-sided questions in favor of Anthony Brown and with his (Brown’s) getting three shots at the devastating legacy and cost ($288 million, said Larry Hogan) of the healthcare run-up, while Hogan got one.

Much of the debate otherwise was a replay of the campaign this far:  Brown was more rhetorically dexterous and Hogan was incredulous at what he claimed were false imputations of policy arguments and positions.

The format allowed some ad hoc participation, and I think if you add up the minutes, Brown was advantaged by this.  It was not outrageous, and the debate as a whole was generally informative, even if it was not quite up to the fairness and equity in the WJZ-Baltimore Sun debate.

Bruce DePuyt was a fair enough moderator, and he and questioner WTOP’s Shawn Anderson were just fine in their roles, but Ms. Johnson, as noted, appeared to be consistently quasi-hostile to Hogan.

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Writing several days ago on Brown’s accusation that Hogan’s “privately telling ‘extreme’ gun-rights activists that he would use executive orders to roll back some gun-control measures — something that Hogan has publicly said he would not do,” she became what we call in persuasion theory a “special pleader,” pressing and pressing this issue after it had been discussed earlier in the debate.

Again, Hogan denied he would do any such thing, as Johnson had written in the Post a week ago, and that he could not respond to unnamed sources. Perhaps he can be asked about this four or five more times.

Standard issues and responses 
There were the standard issues and responses, and, again, Hogan’s general attack was that Brown had solutions to problems that he was part and parcel of creating as lieutenant governor and that Brown had never publicly spoken up about such matters.  Hogan asked if Brown ever voiced his objection to Gov. Martin O’Malley concerning his misgivings, but Brown never addressed that.

The weakest Brownian answers concerned the question by DePuyt, “Are Marylanders overtaxed?” and Brown said yet again that he didn’t see the need for raising taxes, but never addressed the question or why he should be believed that he would not raise taxes when he had made the same promise four years ago.  There were also no answers to the $10 billion spending rise, the loss of jobs, the rise in unemployment (despite the infusion of federal jobs, unmentioned by Hogan) or who was responsible for Maryland fiscal policy if not the governor and lieutenant governor.

I am going to jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge if Hogan again pursues his “pursuing mental illness history will cut down on gun violence” argument without ever giving any evidence that such pursuit has had any effect whatsoever.  Why don’t reporters question him on this?  Because they believe that “mental illness” is the cause of gun violence, without any evidence as well.

Finally, as a pox on both their houses, is no one going to talk about the elephant in American society, single parent households which contribute outrageously disproportionately to crime and other social pathologies, or is the answer just to buy government overseeing of our children at earlier and earlier ages, say pre-K and pre-pre-K education?

I must say that as disappointed as I was substantively in Anthony Brown’s evasions and sophistry, his elocution is near-perfect.  I hope my students someday present as well as he.  Hogan’s is not bad as a rough style, often associated with ingenuous honesty, but most audiences prefer style such as Brown’s.

Edge to Hogan.

Professor Vatz teaches Persuasion at Towson University and is author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: the Agenda-Spin Model (Kendall Hunt: 2013)

–MarylandReporter 10/14/2014

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