The Instigator
DeFool
Con (against)
Losing
22 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points

Obama Began His Presidency With an Apology Tour

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Post Voting Period
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after 12 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/30/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,551 times Debate No: 26709
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (43)
Votes (12)

 

DeFool

Con

I am offering this debate proposal to Roy Latham, a debater whose skills I frequently admire, before making it available to anyone else. In a recent debate, I offered a criticism of an argument that he repeated several times in the course of that contest. This argument relied on the following statement being true: “President Obama began his presidency with an apology tour.”

Obviously, I disagree, and would like to continue this discussion with Roy Latham, or perhaps RyuuKyuzo.

I will adopt the position of "Con," since I want to challenge the premise that “President Obama began his term with an apology tour.” I ask that Pro defend the premise, by demonstrating how Obama actually did embark on an "apology tour" over this timeframe.

I am willing to be fairly relaxed concerning any rules for this debate, and am willing to honor any agreements made in the comments section. My only real requests of my partner is that we set aside the final round for summaries of our best arguments - as a convenience to readers who may wish to vote on our performances. I feel that such summaries allow readers to more easily digest our arguments quickly, and allow them to understand our emphasis. I also ask that all definitons come from standard dictionaries. I will use the Google Online Dictionary.

Pro may begin arguments at once, in R1, if they so choose; this is a short debate at only three rounds. I don't expect to need more than two rounds for my presentation. I hate having drops counted as concessions.

My point in presenting this challenge to Mr. Latham is that I have been accused of vote-rigging. I feel that this is a good way to defend my scoring decisions (such accusations bother me; I am an insufferable diva), and an opportunity for Mr. Latham to expand upon his argument.

RoyLatham

Pro

This debate is about whether “apology tour” is a reasonable name for President Obama's initial overseas trip to the Middle East. con did well to challenge me. That's what a debate site is for. The debate is all about semantics , but meaning is important, especially when the President speaks.

Definition. An apology is “an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret apology> .” [1. http://www.merriam-webster.com...]

Admission of error. President Obama's speeches where marked by his claims that past US policies and actions were wrong. No seem to argue that fact. Video clips and transcripts are given at [2. http://factreal.wordpress.com...] These include, ““While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.” ““While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.”

Regret. An “apology” is an acknowledgment of guilt followed by an expression of contrition. Obama didn't explicitly say he was sorry for past bad acts, so critics of the term “apology tour” say it's wrong to use that term. Because he didn't say the words “I apologize” or “I'm sorry” the claim is he didn't apologize.

So critics, out of their deep concern over the precision of language, do critics of apology tour insist it should be called the “confession tour”? A confession is an admission of guilt without necessarily any expression of regret, so that reflects their view. I can find none of the critics of the term “apology tour” insisting it be called the “confession tour.” Their goal is that Obama should not be criticized for trashing the country he leads.

President Obama's litany of criticisms of his country may or may not be true. What matters for this debate is that the President sincerely confessed, certainly many in the audience will agree. Claiming that everything he said is true means that his expression of guilt was both sincere and correct. It cannot remove the charge of it being an apology.

Before addressing the issue of whether the President expressed regret, I need to establish to preliminary points.

a. The popular names of events are not nuanced. It is therefore foolish to demand high precision in the name. A major construction project that tore up central Boston was called “The Big Dig,” not “The road project through central Boston including substantial excavation, road construction, and building a new major tunnel under the harbor.” Dr. King's famous speech on the capitol mall that included a vision of racial equality is called “The Dream Speech,” never mind other things discussed.

b. When an important person speaks, only the unexpected is news. It's useful to compare Obama's apology tour remarks to Mitt Romney's remarks in London before the Olympics.

Romney was asked what he thought of the prospects for the Games. Romney said there was a risk of problems with security. Romney was factually correct. A private security firm who had been contracted to provide 13,000 security guards had failed to fulfill their commitments, so at the last minute there was a scramble to come up with security staff. Romney was well-qualified as anyone to opine on the subject, since Romney had headed the organizing of Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Brits were offended, and pundits including conservatives widely panned his remarks as insensitive and poor diplomacy. The criticisms mounted despite the opinion being correct, and Romney being well-qualified to have the opinion. Note also, the rest of Romney's comments were ignored in favor of the issue that Olympic criticism.

When Obama trashed the U.S. that was the news, and it was all that his audience cared about. Never mind the rest of his message. The tour is not going to be called “The New Caring and Balanced Approach to Foreign Policy Overcoming the Narrow-minded Arrogance of the Past Tour.” – not even if you think that's true.

c. Expressions of contrition need not be explicit statements. For\example. small child accidentally breaks something and brings the broken object to his parents while crying. No words are spoken, but the child has both admitted guilt and expressed regret. That's an apology. Or a young man gets in a fight with his girlfriend, then shows up at her doorstep with flowers (or a bag of weed, or whatever). Again, there is both admission of guilt and expression of regret before words are spoken. It's an apology.

Now to the question of whether Obama expressed regret. My contentions are:

1. For the President, admission of guilt is implicit expression of regret. Presidents are politicians who are acutely aware of implications. Either Obama expressed regret or did not express regret. If he confessed guilt and did not implicitly express regret he would be saying “The U.S. did wrong, but I, as President, do not care. Perhaps we will continue to do wrong, or perhaps not. I won't say.” If that was what he believed, he would not have confessed guilt in the first place. If you hold open the option of doing more bad things, you don't define them as bad and draw attention to them. If you do not regret past acts, you say nothing. The political benefit from making the confession derives entirely from implying that past bad acts are regretted.

2. The President expressed regret by promising rehabilitation. “So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration. The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made.” “That’s why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture.” [2] President Obama is emphatic about changing past policies. That's an acknowledgment that he regrets past policies.

3. The audience understood it as an apology. U.S. standing in the Arab world soared after the Cairo speech on the apology tour. They understood it as an apology for U.S. policy, and especially for supporting Israel. However, by last year, “The United States' popularity in the Arab world has plummeted to levels lower than the last year of the George W Bush administration, according to a new survey of public opinion in six Arab countries ...” [3. http://www.aljazeera.com...] Popularity would not have soared and fallen if the speech were interpreted merely as a renewed commitment to freedom and democracy.

The name "apology tour" is appropriate because is aptly summarizes the news made by President Obama's series of speeches. It's news when a President goes out of his way to confess past policies were wrong, and promising to make amends with new policies. The regret for past policies is thereby implicit and clear. Guilt plus regret is apology. Q.E.D.

Debate Round No. 1
DeFool

Con

I thank my partner for his submission.

  • State Apologies must be explicit
  • The Statements in question are not "apologies" but policy change announcements, criticisms of European anti-Americanism, and Muslim extremism
  • Such policy change announcements are common
  • Foreign Press did not view these statements as apologies

In a recent debate, Governor Mitt Romney leveled a claim against President Obama, accusing him of having embarked upon an “apology tour,” where the President had presumably apologized for American greatness. The Governor was referring to an article written by Karl Rove, titled, “Obama’s Apology Tour,” [1] which had become a meme in the right wing blogosphere, even being picked up by the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Romney had gone so far as to have his book titled “No Apologies,” in a nod to this meme.

This viral rumor had now penetrated into the prestigious presidential debates, and from there has begun to be challenged by those journalists and citizens who are not beholden to conservative talking points. Predictably, the legend of Obama’s shameful contrition was somewhat … one sided … as reported by such journalistic bastions as the Drudge Report and Sean Hannity.

The “apology tour,” as reported by the originators of the viral rumor, contains no formal apologies – not one – and was not even a “tour.”

The origins of the rumor (America has shown arrogance)

Even before the now infamous Karl Rove article, “Obama’s Apology Tour” was first published in April of 2009, the Fox News website was already expressing outrage at an Obama speech that was critical of French anti-Americanism – by characterizing the criticism as an apology for America. The website featured a front page banner, trumpeting, “America Has Shown Arrogance.” The story linked to an April 3 article published in the UK Telegraph, which reported on the President’s speech in Strasbourg, France… Fox News had heavily edited the article to say the least.

The original Telegraph article stated that President Obama "balanced this striking admission with a tough message to Europeans that blaming America was foolish." The UK article went on to quote Obama saying: "But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad." Europeans, it turns out, did not feel “apologized to.” [1]

Ignoring this, the Fox Nation website then began repeating the accusation, characterizing almost any foreign policy change as an “apology” for the previous policies. Karl Rove lent his authority to the growing meme, culminating in a Wall Street Journal Article and the book and debate mention by Mitt Romney.

The Tour

The “Apology Tour,” according to its creators, occurred in a series of policy announcements made in the opening months of Obama's first term. Sharp readers may note that no complete examples of any “apologies” were provided by my partner in his presentation. (The video clip is obviously heavily edited, and out of context) I will provide the examples, therefore:

In the seven speeches that Romney labels as apologies in his book, the President is seen acknowledging challenges that America has overcome, policy changes that his administration is announcing, and other statements of fact. However, these are universally connected to admiration of American principles, and criticisms of the host nations that he is addressing. [2]

Politifact lists the speeches in question, and quotes them in their original context. [3]

At the United Nations: I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction.

In Cairo: The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.[4]

I wish that I had space to list all of these “apologies” in their full context. Since these are the three that feature most prominently, I have listed them only – the remaining statements are all fully accessible in my citations, which I have clearly labeled. Perhaps I will paste them into the comments section, for easier reference.

As readers study these speeches, one thing will quickly become apparent: there are no statements that can even be called “apologetic.” I am aware that my partner believes that implied apologies are identical to explicit apologies – but they are not. The following logic is given in the Politifact article:

  • Conciliatory language is not identical with an apology: “Neither of us are perfect, let’s just move forward”
  • Admission of wrongdoing is not identical with an apology: “I smashed your car because you drive like an idiot.” (Saddam Hussein can say that he invaded Kuwait, and this would not necessarily be an apology.)
  • Humility is not identical with apology: “sorry to bother you on your day off, but I need you to finish these reports.”
  • Changing policy is not identical with an apology: “From now on, we will be doing things differently around here” – this one in particular seems to be important to this debate. [3]

"Only the unexpected is news"
My partner made one claim that was not answered so far in my presentation. That is, he asserts that if the Obama policy change announcements (misrepresented as “apologies”) made it into the right wing blogs, then it must have been unusual. It wasn’t. Every American President has issued such policy changes and frank language upon taking office, including President Bush - also in Cairo:

“We will reject the kinds of comments you have seen recently where people in this country say that Muslims are responsible for the killing of all Jews and who put out hatred. This kind of hatred must be rejected … This kind of language must be spoken out against. We cannot allow this image to go forth of America.” [5]

Clearly, we could easily create similar "apology tour" narratives for Lincoln, Washington, FDR, or any other president.

Therefore, my argument as of this round is:

  • When the president tells an audience that “we will not torture,” this is a statement of intent – not an apology.
  • The characterization of “apology” was developed only as a way to discredit and undermine American diplomacy under President Obama. This is demonstrated by the intentional way that these statements were taken out of their context and misrepresented.
  • In two notable examples, the “apologies” were actually criticisms of Muslim extremism and Anti-Americanism in Europe.
  • As my partner points out, at no time did the president explicitly apologize or express regret – a necessary component of what should constitute a formal state apology.
  • My partner did not present any actual examples of unambiguous "apologies" during this time period - because none exist.


[1] French Address: http://www.whitehouse.gov...

[2] Politifact “Pants on Fire” Ruling Explained http://www.politifact.com...

[3] Politifact “apologies” in context: http://www.politifact.com...

[4] Cairo Speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov...

[5] Bush Remarks in Cairo: http://www.salon.com...

RoyLatham

Pro

My opponent provides some background about how the term "apology tour" came into common use. As best I can make of it, Con is saying that because critics of Obama started the phrase, it can't be true. That's the ad hom fallacy of attacking the source rather than addressing the issue. The question here is whether the description "apology tour" is apt, without regard for who originated it.

I gave the dictionary definition of "apology" as basically a confession plus an expression of regret. Is there any doubt that Obama confessed what he considered to be past sins? Is there any doubt he expressed regrets? Is it possible that he actually likes arrogance and torture and doesn't regret them? In a debate about appropriate semantics, Con didn't dispute either the definition I gave or my arguments as to how the definition was met. Con instead offers a claim of exemption from the definition, as if the dictionary had a clause exempting policy changes from having associated apologies.

Con's contentions are:

State Apologies must be explicit. Con gives no source for this assertion. However, no one to my knowledge has claimed that Obama was making an official state apology. Informal apologies are nonetheless apologies.

The Statements in question are not "apologies" but policy change announcements, criticisms of European anti-Americanism, and Muslim extremism. Where does the dictionary say that an apology is no longer an apology if it is followed by a policy change? If you apologize to your girlfriend and then promise to change your ways --a policy change-- does the promise of a new policy cancel the apology? No, the concept is wrong in any context. A promise of change in fact reinforces the regret for an old policy just explicitly denounced.

It is possible to make policy changes without apologies. Among the ways to do that are

a. to make no reference to past policies while announcing the new ones,

b. to reference past policies and say that circumstances have changed so that new policies are appropriate, or

c. to say something equivalent to "we're going to try something new in hope of getting better results."

Obama did not take any of those delicate diplomatic approaches. He made it clear he thought past policies were not merely wrong, but immoral. Immorality is always regrettable, so the regret is clear without being specific.

Such policy change announcements are common. Yes, policy changes are common, but trashing past policies with denunciation of their immorality is not common. The norm is to use one of the easy outs like "time have changed." Whether policy changes are common or not is in any case irrelevant to whether apologies were made.

Foreign Press did not view these statements as apologies. Con gives no evidence of what the foreign press thought; he just points to the text of Obama's speech. The foreign press was at the time even more in the tank for Obama than the American press, with the Europeans awarding Obama the Nobel Peace prize for who-knows-what. Nonetheless, they may have accepted the apology as appropriate. Con gives no evidence. (Now der Speigel headlines, Obama's Middle East Policy Is in Ruins, 4. http://www.spiegel.de... ) What counts is how the Muslim world took the news, which was with elation over the perceived possibility of reduced US support for Israel, recently followed by anger when their dreams were not fulfilled by Obama.

No one claimed the apology was formal

Con cites Politifact. Politifact is very careful in choosing their words in an attempt to defend Obama. Politifact concedes that Obama confesses past sins of both the Bush Administration and the United States. the provide a good list of his denunciations. Politifact rests their case on the idea that Obama didn't meet the definition of a "formal apology." [5. http://www.politifact.com... ] They say, "He did not make a formal expression of regret." So who said Obama's apologies where formal? This is like defense counsel arguing that his client should be acquitted entirely on the grounds that he only met the definition of second degree murder. A speech communicates meaning to its audience, and no one except Obama apologists thinks of the issue of formality.

Politifact saying formality matters does not make it matter. Politifact was once an honest fact checker, but their strained antics to justify leftist claims have reduced them to the status of a partisan blog. (For example, Politifact denounced Republicans as lying when they said Obamacare would cost up to $2 trillion, when the Congressional Budget Office said it would cost $1.76 trillion.) They occasionally dispute some hopeless leftist lie to try to make a claim to impartiality, but they side with Democrats on issues of claimed lying nine times as often as Republicans. [6. http://www.humanevents.com... ] Their opinion has no authority on formality counting.

Pointing to the context of the disparaging remarks in the speeches is supposed to show that they were in the context of policy change and that Obama said positive things as well. Having a policy change does not erase the apology. Making positive remarks is a fine thing, but irrelevant to the issue. For example, Con cites Obama saying, "... Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others." No matter how that is wrapped in other pronouncements, it is clearly an admission of guilt and an expression of regret. Acting without regard for others is unethical, and it is not possible for a President to admit unethical action without implying regret for it.

Con is correct that conciliatory language is not necessarily an apology (if it doesn't reference past immorality) , admission of wrongdoing is not necessarily an apology (if it is accidental), and changing policy is not necessarily (if it is because times have changed). None of those circumstances apply to the statements made in the apology tour.

Only the unexpected is news

Con says that every President uses "frank language" to announce policy changes. He gives only one example, of Bush saying that blaming all Muslims for the acts of terrorists is wrong. For that to be a policy change, it must have been the policy of the Clinton Administration to blame all Muslims for the acts of terrorists. That's absurd. No Administration has ever had a policy of blaming all Muslims for acts of terrorism. It was not a policy change, and it did not deserve to be news. It wasn't news.

The news that made the apology tour what it is was the lengthy denunciation of many aspects of American policy, but the clear judgment that the policies were immoral, and not just out of step with current affairs. Immoral acts cannot be acknowledged by a moral person without regret, so they are apologies.

Con says, "... we could easily create similar "apology tour" narratives for Lincoln, Washington, FDR, or any other president." I invite Con to go right ahead and do that. Show past presidents denouncing past policies as immoral and giving that as reason for changing the policies. Show past Presidents as denouncing the US as arrogant, uncaring practitioners of torture. I won't claim it is impossible; Lincoln quite likely denounced slavery. But whenever it happened it was an apology. Remember, our debate in not about whether apologies are appropriate. It is about what counts as an apology.

It is for good reasons that the name "apology tour" has stuck. The resolution is affirmed.

Debate Round No. 2
DeFool

Con

I want to thank my partner for his presentation, and any readers that might have followed our contest to this point.

  • This was not a debate about whether or not denigrating America was good or bad - it was a debate about whether or not it happened. By spending so much time angrily condemning "Obama's apology tour"… my partner forgot to prove that any apology tour actually occurred.

    The Following Facts are Relevant:
    • The transcripts of the speeches in question exist – and are easily researched
    • My partner is a skillful debater and researcher, who has written about this subject previously
    • Therefore, if there exists any apologies in any of the transcripts from the seven-speech “apology tour” then he should have been able to present them, and subject them to review during this debate. (He has not done so, and now the period in which such new arguments may be presented is over.)

It is reasonable to state that my partner was unable to locate any clear cut examples of apologies during this time frame because they do not exist.

In accepting this debate, I made only two requests as to the conduct of the contest: that we use standard dictionaries, and that we set aside the final round for summaries of our best arguments. Any other rules could have been negotiated, and would have been respected – no such negotiations were initiated. Therefore, in order to honor the agreements that we made in setting up this contest, I will restrain my commentary in this round to only summarizing my most effective arguments, and offering only the rebuttals that are most relevant - as space permits.

My most effective argument, in my opinion, is that my partner failed to present even one example of an apology made by the president during the course of the “apology tour.” It was incumbent upon him to establish the existence of such apologies, to present examples of them to the debate so that they may be fairly evaluated. The fact that this never happened is – to my mind – fair evidence that they do not exist. I provided my partner with a full round more than what I was allowed to use in which to present these apologies for debate. (I had only one round to his two – the final round was set aside for summaries only).

In the first round, he attempted to provide a logical justification as to why even the most innocuous statement of imperfection should be considered an apology along the lines of a “small child accidentally breaks something and brings the broken object to his parents while crying.” He never gave a single example of the President apologizing in this way.


Expressions of Regret:

The following examples of “expressions of regret” were put forward by my partner, as evidence that the President was “trashing the US.” Were these apologies – or even apologetic?

  • “The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made.”
  • “That’s why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture.”


These are the only “apologies” that my partner was able to turn up in his research on the topic that might have occurred over the course of this tour that was supposed to be saturated with humiliating apologies. I maintain that, even if these were actual apologies – they do not occur often enough, and are not bootlicking enough, to have earned the name “apology tour.”

But were these even apologies at all?

I cannot present the entire "past errors" statement in its full context here, due to character limitations. I have therefore offered it in the comments section, and have linked to the full remarks. [1] If the “past errors” comment is read in context, we see that there was never any attempt to offer “regret;” the statement is obviously a criticism of a Latin American tendency to "blame America" for entrenched Latin poverty.

Here is a better view of the statement – the context is visibly not that of an apology:

“…we can't blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere. That's part of the bargain. That's part of the change that has to take place. That's the old way, and we need a new way.

“The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made. We will be partners in helping to alleviate poverty. But the American people have to get some positive reinforcement if they are to be engaged in the efforts to lift other countries out of the poverty that they're experiencing.”


Far from an “apology,” this statement is a criticism of Latin America’s tendency to “blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere.” With select words taken out of context, it is made to appear that Obama was “trashing” America – but he was not. Likewise, the statement that the “US does not and will not torture” is a statement of intent: we will not torture. It is not an apology.

As these are the only examples that my partner was able to produce before enter the "no new arguments" section, the debate is largely settled: he has failed to offer convincing facts and logic to support his premise.

Specific Rebuttals:

With some space left, I can address a few of the claims that were made during the course of the discussion. As I do this, I should point out that the bulk of the argument presented by my partner “assumed the premise” rather than proved the premise. In other words, most of his arguments depended on the premise being true in the first place. A textbook example of this fallacy might ask a man who has been accused of spousal abuse “how often he beats his wife.” Obviously, he would have to beat his wife in the first place for the question to even be relevant. My partner repeats this fallacy throughout his argumentation. A few examples:

“…do critics of apology tour insist it should be called the “confession tour”? This disrespectful and condescending comment requires that the "apology tour" actually resembles his characterization.

“President Obama's litany of criticisms of his country may or may not be true” My partner never revealed the “litany of criticisms” the President allegedly made towards his country.

“When Obama trashed the U.S…” No examples of him “trashing the US” were ever provided.

”…trashing past policies with denunciation of their immorality is not common.” We see the pattern. My partner skips the necessary step of demonstrating his premise, in favor of simply assuming that it is universally held as true, and then condemning the President for actions that he never demonstrated to have occurred. Here, he gives no evidence that the President ever trashed past policies with denunciations of their immorality. He simply states that this would be a bad thing if it were to have happened.

Another line of reasoning is also a fallacy: I cited the research done by Politifact, because that website had open links to all of the relevant parts of our discussion. The website has all of the speeches, counter arguments, and logic behind the “Pants on Fire” ruling that the project awarded the statement that we are analyzing today. “Shoot the messenger but the message survives;” this is an old fallacy, attacking the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. Since he dedicated no character space to refuting the argument that Politifact was making, my partner made the mistake of allowing the Politifact argument itself to pass uncontested. By not answering the argument, he "dropped" a key position: that no apology tour occurred, according to fact-checkers.

The ruling was also repeated by almost every major media outlet. A Google search will quickly demonstrate this.


Considering all of this, we must have a large number of apologies in order to call these speeches an “apology tour.” Since we lack any obvious apologies at all, the term cannot be used with credibility.


[1]Full Remarks of the “Past errors” statement:
http://www.whitehouse.gov......

RoyLatham

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for an interesting debate. Occasionally semantic issues are worth detailed examination, and this was one of those times.

An apology is a confession plus regret

I began with the standard dictionary definition of an apology. An apology is an admission o guilt with an expression of regret. My opponent has not contested this definition, and he has not offered an alternative.

Both of us provide numerous examples of admissions of guilt. I cited the President's admission that that the US was arrogant, didn't care about others, and practiced torture. My reference [2] has a list of quotations of the important admissions of guilt. Con referenced Politifact, who provided a similar list and certified they were admissions of guilt.

The second part an apology is an expression of regret. We must determine, for example, if President Obama regretted torture, or whether he remained open on the issue. Politifact, Con's source, said they were apologies, but did not meet the full definition of a formal apology. I challenged Con to explain who said the apologies were formal, and he did not respond. Con said the European press did not take the speeches to include apologies, but when I challenged him to provide evidence of that claim, he had no response. He had only pointed to the text of the speech. I provided evidence that the audience in the Middle East took the speeches as apologies for past policies and promises. Con did not attempt to refute the evidence.

Con said I did not provide examples of apologies. I think what my opponent is saying is that the apologies were implicit rather than explicit. President Obama said his Administration would stop torture, but he did not explicitly say he regretted previous torture. I argued that apologies can be implied, and that in the extreme an apology can be made without using words at all. Con did not contest this principle, but claimed that the President did not do that. My argument was that admissions of moral errors by a President always imply regret. That derives from immorality being inherently bad, so once acknowledged, regret is implied. Saying that we will stop torturing clearly implies torture was regrettable. Con never argued that President Obama was indifferent or unclear about arrogance, not caring for the interests of others, and torture. The implicit regret was clear to everyone, including Politifact, who only claimed the apology was not explicit.

Apologies are not undone by policy changes

Con argued that apologies made in the context of announcing policy changes are not apologies. I challenged Con to provide a standard definition of apology that includes a provision for it being cancelled by a subsequent statement of policy change. He would have to show that, "I'm sorry. I won't do that again." does not have an apology in it, because it is cancelled by the policy change. This is absurd, and Con never addressed the point explicitly. Instead, he advised us to read the speeches until we found something that cancelled or overcame the apologies. He needed to make an explicit argument, not just invite us to be swayed by the prose of the speech.

Con said that new Presidents often acknowledged the immorality of previous policies without apologizing for them. I invited Con to go ahead and cite examples, and he did not respond.

I am not arguing that Presidents should never apologize. In fact, immoral acts should always be acknowledged and regretted. We are not arguing in this debate whether President Obama's apologies were justified. Perhaps the President is correct in his characterization of the US as an arrogant, uncaring, practitioner of torture. If so, apologies are appropriate. If not, apologies are inappropriate, What's at issue is whether the president acknowledges errors in past policies and regretted them. He clear did, and that provided the impetus for his new policies.

I acknowledge that there was a lot in the speeches besides the apologies. He criticized Europeans and terrorists, That part of the speeches was not news. Those criticisms were not what caused his approval in European in Arab countries to soar. The news was and is acknowledgement of US immorality. It was apology tour, and news was the apologies.

Con argued that the phrase apology tour originated with opponents, and that somehow invalidated the phrase. The original is irrelevant. It stuck because it fits.

Debate issues

Con's own source admitted there were apologies, arguing only that weren't formal. Con never responded. That alone loses the arguments.

I cited a half dozen or more of my opponents dropped arguments. That was fatal to his case.

In the last round, Con pointed to the comments for an extension of his arguments. That a conduct violation, because the character limits are site rules. It is also pointless, as anyone who wanted to read the speeches could follow links.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 3
43 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
@Muted, You are living in a fantasy world. "Apology tour" remains an accurate characterization. Everyone from Politifact to the Arab street recognized the apologies. I don't understand why the Left objects to it being called an apology tour, since they agree that the US was an imperial power, etc., and that President Obama should have apologized. I suspect that the objection is not that the characterization is wrong, but that it shouldn't be recognized in view of the wonderfulness of Obama's new policy initiatives. Unfortunately, Obama's initiatives were so hackneyed as to be uninteresting to anyone except acolytes. What was interesting was his renunciation of past US policies.
Posted by UltimateSkeptic 4 years ago
UltimateSkeptic
Disclaimer: I haven't read this debate it its entirety. I've just read the title and skimmed a bit.

DeFool- Ah, I see. I cannot join you on the name calling (lol), but I do understand and agree with the underlying message you set forth. It's fairly obvious that RoyLatham is one of the most skilled & respected debaters on the site, I just wonder if his partisanship is hindering his judgement on this one.

I presume it could be my bias, and also that I have implied a motive that he is yet to confirm, but I surely don't feel as if the guy with the drone army who is assassinating lead terrorists and masterminds behind great immoralities is the guy who is 'weak' on foreign affairs.

I do love to watch political debates, though.
Posted by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
Thank you for the Friendship Request, Skeptic. I was happy to accept it.

This debate was a challenge to Roy Latham. I wanted to have him admit that the misnomer "apology tour" was only an insult, which he has done. I argued that only a pusillanimous wimp or a person pathologically inspired to insult the president would see the 'apologies.' He agreed, arguing that they were ethereal "statements of regret."

We differ in how we characterize the argument.
Posted by UltimateSkeptic 4 years ago
UltimateSkeptic
Is this whole, "Apology tour," thing intended to make it appear as if Obama is weak on foreign policy?

Otherwise, it's irrelevant. Can the US do no wrong?
Posted by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
S&G: " mas so ny errors "

Again, I was not arguing against the notion that these were "implied" apologies, or that they could be "read between the lines." In fact, this line of logic could have been used to support my case - which was that only pusillanimity or a deep-seated 'need to insult' could could have interpreted these as anything close to a collection worthy of the name "apology tour." (This can be called a 'turn,' if I had been so inclined.)

I am glad that both parties agree on this, and I have not - and will not - argue to the contrary. After all, having a well-known conservative admit this was important to me - as I said.

I note the repeated use of the term "should have." As in, I should have argued something differently. I disagree; what I "should have" done is to have had liberal equivalent sycophants such as 16kadams involved. If I had been preoccupied by the formality of the scoring, which I was not. This tendency to engage in block-voting will, I think, ensure that no one will take the score seriously.

To that - we will all note that agreement has been reached between Mr. Latham and myself - and that we agree on my premise: the "apology tour" is only a taunt, which depends on milk toast implications for it's defense.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
@Muted, This was a debate. It is not unusual that language successful communicates implicit messages. "We tortured people and we won't do it again." has an apology so clear that even Politifact recognized it as an apology. If you wanted to argue that implicit language doesn't count or that only formal state apologies count or that apologies don't count if the President wanted some other point o be more important, then you needed to make those contentions in the debate and argued why they were true. Saying nothing in response to my arguments ought to lose every vote on the arguments.

The way S&G is usually scored in DDO debates is that the category is only used if one of the debaters mas so ny errors that it interferes with understanding the arguments. There is no rule that it should be scored that way, so voters can do as they please, but the convention makes sense.
Posted by truthseeker613 4 years ago
truthseeker613
OK. your right I missed that, but you did make at did make at least 1 error tob:

R1 - "definitons" instead of "definitions"

I think it's to late to take my vote back, but it wasn't a game changer anyway.

But I agree that way to many people vote without reading the debates well enough.

Even if they do read the whole thing, many just skim it without thinking to deeply, or reading & understanding each side thoroughly, with a open mind. (This happened to both sides in this debate.)
I believe the RFD is more important than the votes themselves. 1 well reasoned RFD is worth more to me than a bunch of bias / ignorant ones. Quality over quantity.
Posted by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
I apologize for not having noted your caveat; you are correct - you did make the statement. I was simply unaware of it.

The error was:

""While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms." ""While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms."

That is a copy and paste excerpt, taken directly from the debate. (A botched attempt to quote something.) I do not want to belabor the point, only to point out that such errors were ignored in the scoring.
Posted by truthseeker613 4 years ago
truthseeker613
Sorry but I, did & do not, see any such mistakes by pro.

BTW of course I read the debate, I wrote in my RFD that
"I didn't have enough time to really analyze both sides well enough"
Posted by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
Olgy tour won the day - and my ego was fed by the admission.

I am sincerely sorry that he seemed so angered. I hope that the scoring will console him. Although I myself do not take all of this very seriously; it is a work pastime. Popularity, voting alliances, block voting and multiple accounts are far larger factors than debate skills... This should be remembered when we become overly concerned.

(Please forgive the mischief of my iPhone, it is seems to have divided my comment.)
12 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by truthseeker613 4 years ago
truthseeker613
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Voting period is too short. I didn?t have enough time to really analyze both sides well enough
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter vote bomb. She only justified arguments, not the other 4 points.
Vote Placed by BeverlyRomni 4 years ago
BeverlyRomni
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Reasons for voting decision: omg Some of the people voting are not reading the debate. Pro never showed any evidence to support his case. Pro says that implied apologies should count, but never gives any implied apologies, and only tries to give three. Even if these count, thats not enough to count as an apology tour. Pro was rude, never made any real sources, and just got stomped. Pro is lucky that he got some cotes from people who didn't bother to read
Vote Placed by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
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Total points awarded:11 
Reasons for voting decision: A great debate. One of the best, in my opinion. Both sides have made conniving argument. Please see comments for explanations. For one thing: In absence of option "Tied" I would vote for Con. Great debate. I relished it.
Vote Placed by Double_R 4 years ago
Double_R
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons biggest flaw was that he allowed Pro to define what constitutes an apology tour nearly uncontested. By instead focusing on the origins of the phrase and raw assertions of what an apology tour should be, he failed to establish his own definition. His best defense was to claim that Pro never established any apologies that actually occurred, however not only did Pro specifically state two examples (R1 paragraph 2, and R2 paragraph 9), but Con also made it clear multiple times in the debate that referencing the transcripts of Obama's speeches is sufficient, which Pro did. Considering these two factors Pro gets a clear decision.
Vote Placed by andrewmccauley 4 years ago
andrewmccauley
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: I still agree with Con, but I do believe that Pro made more convincing arguments. That being said, my previous opinion on the issue, and my thorough examination of the speeches has led me to believe that Con was correct in his assertion.
Vote Placed by TrasguTravieso 4 years ago
TrasguTravieso
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Argument goes to Pro, I am now convinced there was an appology, although Con convinced me that this was not something exceptional or negative. Sources go to Con for actually putting the comments in context, which really does away with the whole "trashing the US" accusation.
Vote Placed by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was very polite, even in his debate challenge, partially earning him Conduct. The other reason I gave Conduct to him is that Pro incited one of my pet peeves, "The resolution is affirmed" (or negated, whichever way; I dislike it when contestants try to color the voter view by telling them who's winning). Convincing arguments go to Pro for obvious reasons. Reliable sources go to Con, for having one source more than Pro. Spelling and grammar almost went to Pro, for good articulation and vocabulary. Very good debate, fairly evenly matched.
Vote Placed by Greyparrot 4 years ago
Greyparrot
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con admits the statements were apologetic, yet does not explain his criteria for not being "apologetic enough"
Vote Placed by darkkermit 4 years ago
darkkermit
DeFoolRoyLathamTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro demonstrates that an apology can be implict, and that Obama implicitly apologized since he was expressed regret and guilt. He deduced why this was true, therefore it is appropriate to call it an apology tour