Friday, July 30, 2010

Jose Montelibano takes a swing at the Forces of Enlightenment

In an Inquirer.net piece, columnist Jose Ma. Montelibano contributes to the defense of President Benigno "P.Noy" Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA) which he delivered on the 26th of July to Congress. His approach -- and arguments -- were basically organised around two key pillars:

(1) Taking stock of the arguments of the "members of the elite who were for other candidates". This is basically much of the issues to do with P.Noy's lack of experience, lack of achievement, lack of intellectual depth, lack of ability to be his own man (independent of his family pedigree), and overall lack of substance.

(2) Pointing out the continued popularity of the President. As expected, this has to do with the fact that P.Noy won an election determined by popular vote, came out with an 88 percent trust rating in a recent "survey", and generally is an all-around well-liked guy.

This passage from Montelibano's article tidily sums up the above two aspects of his argument:
From months of absorbing criticism about a lackluster performance in Congress and the Senate to an inaugural address that was defined by his "no wang-wang" message, Noynoy did not lose the trust of the people. Instead, he gained so much trust to rewrite historical records and now holds the highest ever trust rating ever earned by a public official. Apparently, the people did not view Noynoy as lacking in intelligence; on the contrary, they regarded him as the most credible, the most sincere, and pinned their hopes, their future on him. What does that make of those who tried to pillory Noynoy the candidate? It appears that they are the ones who did not have the intelligence to understand the Filipino people.

In short:

Montelibano is arguing against the observations of Noynoy's critics (Pillar 1) using facts about Noynoy's popularity (Pillar 2).

Indeed, after almost a thousand words of emotional diarrhoea this, in essence, is Montelibano's argument in his own words:
Two record-breaking trust ratings tell P-Noy he is listening to the Filipino people. It gave the right SONA to the right audience.

I think I like my one-line summary a bit better. But I do agree on one point Montelibano makes. The arguments he goes up against armed with his appeal-to-popularity sword are indeed those of the "intellectually superior". Is this roadmap over the next six years, as Montelibano asserts, "about character, the character of the leader and the character of the follower, the character of P-Noy and the character of the Pinoy"? I don't think so. It is about results and a clear way to achieve these.

It comes down to this simple principle:

The popularity of an idea has never been a strong indicator of its soundness nor of its validity.

My verdict on the soundness of Montelibano's appeals: FAIL.

1 comment:

  1. goodness. the survey is just a PR ploy. and popular vote? more Filipinos did not vote for him. imagine there were even lots of Filipinos who did not vote or did not get to vote at all. And Inquirer is a source of sensationalized info. Who would print the same survey twice in one year in separate months? Only Inquirer. They printed a survey done during the election a day after the election and they printed it again when Noynoy has become president. For what and why?

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