Dianne Feinstein was challenged by Sen. Ted Cruz on her understanding of the Second Amendment. Instead of answering Sen. Cruz’s questions, Feinstein threw out several red herrings. A red herring is a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the actual issue. When you don’t like the way a cross examination is going, employ the red herring to dodge the question.
Sen. Cruz asked Feinstein a very legitimate question. Would she limit the freedoms of the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment like she wants to do with the Second Amendment? Here’s was Cruz’s question:
“Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?”
Instead of answering Cruz, Feinstein pulled rank, said she was not a sixth grader who needed to be instructed on the meaning of the Constitution, and diverted attention from the question by employing several incompetently framed analogies.
In addition, Feinstein avoided answering the very simple question by pulling the experience card. Her 20 years in the Senate should be enough to answer the question without having to answer the question.
There are lots of lawyers (Feinstein isn’t one) who are bad lawyers even though they’ve been in the business for 20 years. The same is true of engineers, doctors, and politicians. Medical malpractice kills more people every year than guns of all types, “approximately 195,000 people are killed every year by medical errors in the US.” Politicians are also in the killing business every day they refuse to stop abortion and endless wars.
She committed a second fallacy called “begging the question,” assuming her analogy about child pornography is like owning certain types of weapons without first proving it. Using the pejorative “assault weapon” doesn’t help her attempt to make a sound argument since some of the weapons she wants to ban are identical in performance to weapons that aren’t on the banned list.
Hoping to redeem herself, Feinsten said the following:
“I thank you for the lecture. Incidentally, this does not prohibit — you used the word ‘prohibit’ — it exempts 2,271 weapons. Isn’t that enough for the people of the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons that other people use in close combat? I don’t think so.”
So how many books, magazines, newspapers, and websites are enough? Can some be banned because there are already enough of them? I don’t know anyone proposing that bazookas are covered under the Second Amendment (although they may be), and I don’t recall anyone using a bazooka in an assault.
Cruz commented that “nobody doubts [Feinstein’s] sincerity or her passion.” I would have added that sincerity in a debate is not an argument. There are lots of people who are sincerely wrong. Cruz made this point: Sen. Feinstein “chose not to answer the question that I asked.”
There’s a larger issue here. Republicans are taking the fight to the Democrats, and the Democrats don’t like it, and that’s not a red herring.