… when he encounters a correct and clear description of his protectionist position, or of undeniable implications of that position, accuses the person offering the description or implications of creating a straw man.
Yet the free trader need never create a straw man when arguing with the protectionist, for the protectionist’s argument is a spoof on itself. In short, the creator and champion of the straw man is none other than the protectionist himself. He is simply too uninformed or benighted to understand that the arguments that he offers in favor of the artificial enhancement of scarcity are fundamentally absurd.
When offering his arguments, the protectionist manages to present them in a manner that fools him and his followers into believing that his arguments are logically sound, economically sensible, and historically verified. That is, the protectionist doesn’t intend to offer as arguments only straw men. Yet with exceptions too rare to note, such arguments are the only sort that he has available. So when any person better informed and more intellectually consistent than the protectionist describes the protectionist’s argument in full and clearly, the protectionist yells “Straw man!” And, again, in a perverse way the protectionist is here correct. But the argument that even he recognizes as flawed when it is laid bare is merely his own.