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What's in a frame? well........
January 14, 2004 10:35 AM   Subscribe

George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics "Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing? - Because they've put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce....He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973" "So if you go on Fox News....and the question is, 'Are you in favor of the President’s tax relief program or are you against it?' -- it doesn't matter what you say. If you say, 'I’m against tax relief,' you're still evoking that framing. you're still in their frame..."

"George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California Berkeley, is a specialist in the technique of "framing," a communication tool that creates a "frame" for a message that defines the terms of the debate." (Interview with Lakoff )
posted by troutfishing (75 comments total)

 
Lakoff has been mentioned before on this site, though these links haven't been mentioned before (though the first link is from several months ago).

Here's an audio interview with him done by Chris Lydon from NPR. Language is everything in political discourse, hopefully the democrats figure that out someday.
posted by mathowie at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2004


Yeah, isn't Lakoff kind of old news on MeFi? It is an interesting topic for those unfamiliar with it though the news that conservatives have spent billions of dollars over the last 30 years building a thinktank/propaganda machine is old news around here.
posted by McBain at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2004


hopefully the democrats figure that out someday

Are you honestly telling me that you think Democrats do not frame debates with language?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2004


Gosh, imagine if liberals got hold of this top-secret language technology!
posted by Tubes at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2004


Language is everything in political discourse, hopefully the democrats figure that out someday.

Wrong. Content is the essence of political discourse. That was a main distinction made by Socrates when criticizing the sophists 2,000 years ago. Rhetorical devices, right or left, can only go so far.
posted by 111 at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2004


Are you honestly telling me that you think Democrats do not frame debates with language?
Of course they do, but why is it invariably the Repub framing/talking points/issues that the media uses and runs with? Why is that the moveon contest became a big news item all over various media, and not the rev. moon statements?
posted by amberglow at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2004


111 fails to grasp the fundamental distinction here, which is that framing defines and shapes content.
posted by quonsar at 11:12 AM on January 14, 2004


Reading the post, before I even clicked through to the article, I was thinking, "Yeah, I've heard that somewhere else before, there's this great book that talked about the way liberals and conservatives have fundamentally different thought processes regarding their morals. Hmm...I'll have to figure out what that book was and comment about it."

Oh yeah, it was called _Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think_.

And oh yeah, it was written by Lakoff.

Very interesting ideas he has, though. They are expounded on much more fully in his book. Michael Moore talks about a similar phenomenon in _Dude_, where the Republican National Committee and the right-wing radio hosts focus on some unseemly bit of information about a liberal politician (usually untrue or highly exaggerated), and focus in on that point and repeat it without any context ad nauseum until everyone else starts believing it is true. (viz. the "Gore invented the internet story" that was mentioned in the Salon article from yesterday's Dean vs. Media post).
posted by eoligarry at 11:15 AM on January 14, 2004


Duh!
posted by ahimsakid at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2004


111 fails to grasp the fundamental distinction here, which is that framing defines and shapes content.

Not really quonsie boy. Ultimately, an assertion is either true or false as long as you're capable to test it against reality and previous experiences. If you're fooled by framing, you should know better. Marshall McLuhan got it all wrong.
posted by 111 at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2004


If you're fooled by framing, you should know better.

you need to paste that on your bathroom mirror, so that every morning when you check to see if you need to shave this month or not, you will remember it.
posted by quonsar at 11:28 AM on January 14, 2004


Interesting stuff. quonsar, don't feed the trolls.
posted by squirrel at 11:31 AM on January 14, 2004


Are you honestly telling me that you think Democrats do not frame debates with language?

Oh they try, but they're terrible at it these days. Like absolutely awful at it, too bogged down in nuance. There aren't any "Save the children" or "American enduring freedom" bills coming from the left, they're all nansy-pansy messages more along the lines of "we really should do what's right for under-privelaged children, shouldn't we? bill 8.203" and "Well, some extraneous budget money should go to defense this year, after arts and sciences of course. bill 2.493"

You want drop dead simple messages? Read anything written by a major republican in the last five years. They know how to distill down concepts to the most basic loaded phrasing, and it serves them well and to their advantage. "Axis of Evil" and "Tax Relief Act" are fucking brilliant, no matter what your stance is on the actual content of either. They work because they're so simple and so visceral.

Anyone got any good examples of the left being able to do this in recent times?
posted by mathowie at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2004


Oh sure, and it's always the conservatives at MeFi who are trolls...

Actually, the exhange above reminds me more of the old "Point:Counterpoint" feature of 60 Minutes so well parodied on the early SNL.

"TROLL : COUNTERTROLL"
"quonsar, you ignorant slut..."
posted by wendell at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2004


quonsar, that's a no-no! Don't feed the trolls! Feed the squirrels instead!! Don't you see how pithy their "interesting stuff" comments are? They clearly have lots to say about the thread's subject!
posted by 111 at 11:39 AM on January 14, 2004


...The notion that grammar might affect the way people think may seem far-fetched, and even unappealing to those who are confident of their own free will. But if Dr Gil is right and there do exist languages, like Riau Indonesian, without nouns or verbs, the difficulty of conceiving just that fact points out how much grammar itself shapes at least some thoughts.
posted by squirrel at 11:41 AM on January 14, 2004


If you're fooled by framing, you should know better.

Heh...if you become addicted to drugs, it's your own fault. You should know better, right? Not really. When suggesting that people should know better, the fundamential assumptions, (among others I'm probably neglecting) are:

1) The knowledge to know better exists and is readily available to be known.
2) You're intelluctually capable of knowing better

And to suggest that the Democrats don't know how to capitalize on language as well as the Republicans is a poor argument. Clinton was in office for eight years and enjoyed a rather high approval rating, even after being impeached. Spin moves in both directions. The Bush Administration simply has a rather lovely image to capitalize on for the few years, and unfortunately, the Dems haven't been able to erase the image or divert the public's attention.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2004


Ultimately, an assertion is either true or false as long as you're capable to test it against reality and previous experiences.


This assertion isn't true anymore. There is so much information and assertions flowing that we accept a lot of what we believe without proof. For example, say I said that Belgium has troops in Iraq. You have no way to test this claim, so if it seems reasonable that Belgium has troops in Iraq, you will believe it without evidence and if it seems unreasonable you will most likely doubt it, unless presented something you saw as evidence.
----

Yes, Democrats try to frame the debate, but (possibly because they've been studying it for thirty years) the Republicans have become far more successful at actually achieving it lately.

As for McLuhan being wrong, the major assertion that Mcluhan was wrong about is that the new technology makes people more involved while the opposite is true.
posted by drezdn at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2004


Oh they try, but they're terrible at it these days. Like absolutely awful at it, too bogged down in nuance. There aren't any "Save the children" or "American enduring freedom" bills coming from the left,

Well, I've heard plenty of leftists refer to themselves as "social justice activists" and "progressives," which seems to imply that if you disagree with them, you are anti-social, against justice and regressive.

No matter where it's coming from, it's still just smoke and mirrors. It'd be hard to get anyone behind a "Gimme More Of Your Paycheck Bill," or "Let's Hear It For Toxic Waste Amendment."
posted by jonmc at 11:50 AM on January 14, 2004


*Rubs chin thoughtfully*

Tell me more about this Gimme More Of Your Paycheck Bill...

*Reaches for wallet*
posted by squirrel at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2004


But see, jonmc, even you are using the charged term "leftist". As far as I know, this is a relatively new term. Someone along the way realized that since (the equally new and charged - and popular - term) "Islamist" ended in "-ist", the public could be made to connect the two terms.
posted by interrobang at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2004


This assertion isn't true anymore.

Poor choice of words (self-contradictory within and outside the specific context to say the very least). Actually, statements are true/untrue in themselves; our individual cognitive mechanisms, as well as our choice of data sources define our access to their accuracy. For instance, if I ask "quonsar, has your liberal commie husband stopped beating you?", I'm referring to several layers of meaning, fact and intention, but they can be discretely evaluated. There are no half truths.

McLuhan, like Freud, is a juvenile, mystifying charlatan whose main assumptions are easily dismissed by reality. The McLuhan galaxy seems a bit simplistic after the Internet, isn't it? I'd say right now form is less and less relevant because there's so much information around us. I see a return to pragmatist and empiricist modes of thinking after a whole century of relativism and barren structuralist obsessions.

Of course, language has become a commodity in the sense that very few people have a full grasp at it; I remember reading a review of a new translation of the Comedy where the author mentioned that most of the allegory and metaphors of Dante's book are now lost to many readers. The Economist has said something similar about Shakespeare's works. But the meaning is there if you look for it, and, as I said, the true litmus test, either for a sonnet or a political speech is the same: truth to life as it is, and not as some fanatical demiurge wannabe has framed it.
posted by 111 at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2004


interrobang -- "leftist" has been around at least as far back as the various central American civil wars the US was involved with during the Reagan Administration.
posted by aaronetc at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2004


"Health care reform." Whether you were for or against it, calling the Clinton administration's early push for a universal health care entitlement a "reform" was a terrific framing of the debate, and it led to a whole decade of "reform" programs originating from both sides.
posted by coelecanth at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2004


But see, jonmc, even you are using the charged term "leftist".

True enough, interrobang, but only because the initial post stated that Republicans do it. They certainly do, but so do those on the other side of the aisle. as well they should, if you're trying to sell people on an idea, presentation is everything.

It just seems a mite hypocritical to decry something from your opposition, when in truth all particapants in the political arena engage in it to some degree.
posted by jonmc at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2004


Anyone got any good examples of the left being able to do this in recent times?

It may be that the fundamental ideals of the left simply can't be boiled down to simplistic pounding platitudes. Progressive ideas will always be derived from complex analysis. The description of something or a movement as "conservative" by definition implies "old ways" or "tradition", things that are supported simply "because it's right, dammit!" It's a lot easier to say "Let's fight evil!" then say "Let's look at the complex cultural and economic issues that cause an arbitrary subset of our world population to support and commit terrible acts of violence." To which a simple and TV friendly response is "Why do you hate America? "
posted by McBain at 12:26 PM on January 14, 2004


According to Webster's, the word "leftist" dates from 1920. I'm guessing there was some connection to "communist" here, given the date, but I have no idea.
posted by raysmj at 12:26 PM on January 14, 2004


You want drop dead simple messages? Read anything written by a major republican in the last five years. They know how to distill down concepts to the most basic loaded phrasing, and it serves them well and to their advantage. "Axis of Evil" and "Tax Relief Act" are fucking brilliant, no matter what your stance is on the actual content of either. They work because they're so simple and so visceral.

The way I see it, one of the reasons for this is that the right seems to often cast problems as simpler than the left does. It's hard to have pithy phrases when you're trying to acknowledge the complexity of an issue.

That said, there are plenty of examples of this on both sides - pro-choice vs pro-life, for example. Everyone always tries to choose the words that best suit their cause.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:28 PM on January 14, 2004


The Bush Administration simply has a rather lovely image to capitalize on for the few years, and unfortunately, the Dems haven't been able to erase the image or divert the public's attention.

well, i'd hesistate to call it lovely, but yes, they certainly have capitalized on it.
posted by quonsar at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2004


statements are true/untrue in themselves; our individual cognitive mechanisms, as well as our choice of data sources define our access to their accuracy.

That's an opinion, not a fact. Or, if it is a fact, its facthood is determined by its context. All meaning arises from context and therefore "facts" come and go.

Take for example the fact that 7 plus 7 is 14. This is a fact, yet its facthood relies on a common assumption of a particular ordering system which is human and has not and will not always be the case.

Your notion of Truth existing outside of human contexting, available to our consciousness only through variious lenses of distorted perception is outdated. Truth is an effect of cooperative and ongoing creativity.

Examine your notion of absolute truth, 111. It may partly explain your readiness to believe in evil.
posted by squirrel at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2004


why is it invariably the Repub framing/talking points/issues that the media uses and runs with?

If you don't think that the media runs with Left-wing framing/talking points/issues, try browsing through this site once in a while

Both sides pull this crap.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2004


Since quonsar brought it to the forefront, let me elaborate. It is arrogant, and naive, to think that Americans will forget the image. However, the message that the Democrats have created is far from unified and fails to appeal to the same instinct that the picture seen above taps into.

The Democrats seem to think that rising above the incident will win elections. I agree with the theory that we should, as a country, move on and quit feeling like victims. However, to convince a nation of 300 million of the same is damn near impossible. And you won't win. Politics is dirty. Trying to play the intellectual, progressive card in a time where Americans are genuinely fearful for their safety is stupid.

Side note: I said "lovely image" in the most sarcastic of ways. By no means do I actually feel that the image is lovely.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:57 PM on January 14, 2004


truth to life as it is, and not as some fanatical demiurge wannabe has framed it.

in other words, it all depends on what your definition of "is" is, huh?
posted by quonsar at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2004


Did anybody notice that little exchange about ten posts back where one guy thought that the world "leftist" was a neologism created by the right to negatively associate the political left with Islamacists? That was weird.
posted by Faze at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2004


An interesting point in the last paragraph - there is no such thing as a free market, because a market cannot exist without rules. The rules create the structure that allow the market to develop. The details of the rules will have a dramatic effect on the nature of the entities that will flourish in the market, which of course is highly significant to the society in which the market is embedded.

So why is there so little dialogue about whether or not we have the best sets of rules for our markets?

Clearly, what constitutes the "best" rules is highly subjective, but we rarely even see acknowledgement of the fact that the basic market rules are changeable, and that we might not currently have market rules in place that will lead to what most of us think of as a healthy society.
posted by jeffj at 1:15 PM on January 14, 2004


It may be that the fundamental ideals of the left simply can't be boiled down to simplistic pounding platitudes.

Um...

"Give Peace A Chance," "No Blood For Oil," "Smash The State!" "No Justice, No Peace," "Power To The People," "Silence=Death"

The right has no monoply of simplemindedness and platitudes.
posted by jonmc at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2004


jonmc: It just seems a mite hypocritical to decry something from your opposition, when in truth all particapants in the political arena engage in it to some degree.

I don't see a lot of decrying going on. It seems more like a call to arms: "Hey, those conservatives are really good at this; we progressives better get our act together."

I think there's a lot of truth to the notion that the right has been far more effective in organizing and controlling their message in recent years than the left has been.
posted by jeffj at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2004


The Bush Administration simply has a rather lovely image to capitalize on for the few years, and unfortunately, the Dems haven't been able to erase the image or divert the public's attention.


In the spring of 1994, a Jordanian stringer working for ABC News spotted Abdul Rahman Yasin outside his father's house in Baghdad and learned from neighbors that he worked for the Iraqi government. After that news was broadcast, Iraqi authorities took Yasin and the other men in the house to an unknown location. His sixty-five-year-old mother, ill with cancer, was allowed to visit them, until she died in October 1994, in a hospital run by Iraqi security.13 As recently as May 1998, FBI director Louis Freeh affirmed that Yasin was in Iraq.

Yet the Clinton administration made no serious attempt to secure Yasin's extradition. Baghdad might well have refused to turn him over, but the US could have used Yasin's presence in Iraq to isolate and condemn the Iraqi regime. It was as if the administration did not want to draw attention to aspects of the case which suggested an Iraqi link to the Trade Center bombing.


Apparently, the Clinton administration believed that the strike would deter Iraq from carrying out further acts of terrorism and impress Sudan and Iran with what the US could do. In August, Sudan was added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, further stressing the point. By dealing with state involvement in the New York bombing conspiracies in this way, the administration avoided the risk that the American public might have demanded that it do a lot more, had it really understood what had happened in New York.

In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right, those who hope to use force to control their domains

Clinton Statement on Designating Terrorist Organizations
A clear message: The path to change is through dialogue


"Today's action," Clinton said, "sends a clear message: the path to change is through dialogue and open deliberation, not violence and hatred. The United States is committed to fight against those who speak the language of terror."

Last year, I signed into law the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. It authorizes the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, to designate an organization that engages in terrorist activity z foreign terrorist organization if it threatens the national security of the United States. The law prevents any fundraising or other financial transactions by these groups in the U.S. Heavy criminal penalties will also be levied against individuals in the United States who provide material support or resources to these terrorist organizations. Together, these provisions will hell deprive terrorist groups of the resources they need the finance their acts of destruction.


and that was 97'
posted by clavdivs at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2004


feel safer then
posted by clavdivs at 1:31 PM on January 14, 2004


Language is everything in political discourse,

money helps, too
posted by matteo at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2004


Wait... I thought money IS speech. ;^)
posted by squirrel at 2:15 PM on January 14, 2004


Steve_At_Linwood, the Media Research Center is well known for distorting and lying about things in order to prove liberal media bias. Read responses to Bernie Goldberg's use of the MRC. Go to Spinsanity or The Daily Howler and search for Media Research Center. They are a pack of liars.
posted by McBain at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2004


why is "lefist" a diss, but there's no such word as, "rightist?"
posted by mcsweetie at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2004


Did anybody notice that little exchange about ten posts back where one guy thought that the world "leftist" was a neologism created by the right to negatively associate the political left with Islamacists? That was weird.

While I wasn't involved, I'd like to point out that the word does seem to have made a resurgence as of late, even if it isn't exactly a neologism.

Regarding non-right simple messages, I'd like to see "Borrow and Spend Republicans" trotted out more often.

mcsweetie, there's always "right-wing extremist," which you hear more than "left-wing extremist."
posted by callmejay at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2004


S@L: An example of McBain's point.

As an aside, I enjoy the way conservatives are appropriating the term hate speech.
posted by subgenius at 3:32 PM on January 14, 2004


It just seems a mite hypocritical to decry something from your opposition, when in truth all participants in the political arena engage in it to some degree.

Yes ... not only do they, but they always have. Furthermore, I'm not certain whether there's anything wrong with that. The art of politics, in a democratic nation, to some degree is the art of framing issues.

(The foundational document of the United States itself - the Declaration of Independence - was a brilliant example of framing a debate in concise and persuasive terms ... in fact, in the years leading up to the Declaration, the issue of whether to split from England was by no means a settled question. Many colonists had deep ties, and many others were afraid of the economic repercussions. Opponents were trying to frame the debate along the lines of their own terms, but documents like Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" - which was read by almost every colonist that could actually read - and the Declaration of Independence, managed to successfully define the terms of the issue in a persuasive way.)

The core issue, I believe, is what constitutes "success" at framing. There are several opinions in this thread (i.e., that the "objective reality" of a given position will ultimately be the determinant, that conservatives think more simply, while progressives view things in a more complex fashion, etc., etc.).

I think it goes deeper than that. I believe the final determinant is "does it resonate".

This is the paradox of democracy. On the one hand, we want leaders that that have firm and strong resolve, that stand up for their principles without wavering, and "lead" in the classical sense of the term. On the other hand, we want leaders that agree with what we think is right at any given moment.

If our leaders do stand up for principles that we don't agree with, we rip them a new one, and accuse them of being out of touch with the "common man", or of pleasing "special interests" ... however, if they do try to gauge what the public is thinking at any given moment, and adjust themselves to that, we curse them for having no principles, and disparage them for doing things because of opinion polls.

The true art of politics (and the only way a politician can actually solve this paradox) is by trying to discern what is unconsciously desired by a good number of constituents, and naming it. When this is successfully done the politician then appears to be both leading and representing.

The true knack is not simply figuring out something that resonates a little, but in finding a message that resonates in a way that drowns other thing out. Bush's advisors are pretty damn good at doing that - so his framing is winning a lot of the debates - but it isn't like both sides don't always try to do so. The "tax relief" phrase quoted above in this thread has been somewhat successful ... more successful than the Democrats approach ("tax breaks for the rich"). The "axis of evil" certainly did resonate more powerfully than "no blood for oil".

If this is leading to frustration for liberals right now, it is simply the same frustration conservatives felt under Clinton (who's people were equally good at the art ...).

The dead-on accurate "it's the economy, stupid" won his first election. Prior to Clinton's second term, the election cycle was full of his personal peccadillos. Republicans tried to frame the core debate around that. They were deeply frustrated when Clinton won in a big way. The reason he won, however, is that it turned out that most Americans knew that Clinton was a bit of a pig in his personal life ... they just didn't care.

This, by the way, is why so many Republicans want Dean to win the nomination. He rose to prominence with a fierce anti-war stance. And certainly Iraq still dominates think-tank circles, political talking-heads programs, and some aspects of the left (including those most likely to turn out for primaries). But really, for most of the mainstream, the war is now (gasp) a non-issue. Reports about it are simply social Muzak. (If you don't believe me, listen to conversations at work, at parties, at bars ... the subject simply doesn't come up that much anymore in mainstream society, regardless of which side people are on).

The bigger issue, however, is that the art of framing a debate is not new - it has been practiced throughout the ages in politics, and in any nation who's system of government requires public support - and even many that don't ... the most recent, and bizarre example is Saddam Hussain who, prior to his 2002 "election" (in which you either voted for him, or were tortured), released the equivalent of a campaign spot to the Iraqi people on both radio and TV, who's musical background was Whitney Houston's "I will always love you". (It didn't resonate very well, but it didn't matter).

Goodness, have I babbled or what.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:24 PM on January 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


Great comment, MM.
posted by callmejay at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2004


jonmc, "framing the debate" doesn't mean "coming up with punchy and one-sided terminology"; if it did, the left would be way ahead of the game. It means getting your terminology accepted by the media and therefore used by the public at large, so that the national debate is carried on in your terms. The Republicans have been much better at this.

According to Webster's, the word "leftist" dates from 1920. I'm guessing there was some connection to "communist" here, given the date, but I have no idea.

The use of the term "left" to mean 'radical' dates back to the French Revolution. Here's the OED's explanation:
In the French Chamber (which is arranged in the form of an amphitheatre), the deputies of moderate opinions who occupy the central benches in front of the president, between the extreme parties who sit to the right and left. right centre, left centre: divisions of this party inclining towards the opinions of the right and left respectively, and sitting adjacent to them. Also transferred to the political opinions so indicated; and to the politics of other countries. (This use originated in the French National Assembly of 1789, in which the nobles as a body took the position of honour on the President's right, and the Third Estate sat on his left. The significance of these positions, which was at first merely ceremonial, soon became political.)
posted by languagehat at 5:10 PM on January 14, 2004


The right has no monoply of simplemindedness and platitudes.

I'm not talking about signs you saw at a protest rally, Jon. I'm talking about the things that actual politicians say. Like "Axis of Evil".
posted by McBain at 5:13 PM on January 14, 2004


Or things released in talking points from the RNC.
posted by McBain at 5:14 PM on January 14, 2004


And what languagehat said...
posted by McBain at 5:16 PM on January 14, 2004


The point has been partly made here, but there's a distinction to be observed between coming up with a pithy slogan and framing. Slogans are words; frames are concepts.

Notice how many of the "left" oppositional slogans are protests against something already in motion? "Give Peace A Chance," "No Blood For Oil," "Smash The State!" "No Justice, No Peace," "Power To The People," "Silence=Death" as in JonMC's post above serve as examples. These are slogans intended to counter the frames already in place, not slogans which reference the frames positively.

Let me second the comment about the difference money makes. Particularly when white-collar jobs are being outsourced (joining the manufacturing and other jobs which went a decade or two earlier), intellectual talent is there to be bought up by the various right-wing foundations. Check out Slanting the Story by Trudy Lieberman [no relation] for more.
posted by palancik at 5:59 PM on January 14, 2004


holy cow, MidasMulligan. that's THE most cogent analysis i've ever heard here concerning politics.
posted by poopy at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2004



Regarding non-right simple messages, I'd like to see "Borrow and Spend Republicans" trotted out more often.


I think Cheap-labor Conservatives is just as apt and far more damning.
posted by electro at 6:13 PM on January 14, 2004


"The true art of politics (and the only way a politician can actually solve this paradox) is by trying to discern what is unconsciously desired by a good number of constituents, and naming it. When this is successfully done the politician then appears to be both leading and representing." - MM, good to hear from you. Of course I disagree, but not totally.

I feel like I blundered with this post, beyond doing a "Lakoff" search, in that the core point was the Powell Memorandum which - unfortunately - got lost in the wash. I'm sad that nobody on this thread seems to have noticed it. Yeah, this is old history, but the Powell Memorandum hasn't surfaced before on Metafilter, and it is really the Rosetta Stone of American politics for the last three decades. Conservatives noticed it. Liberals are still scratching their underarms and wondering why their shit seems to stink worse than everybody else's.

Mathowie well understands this - "You want drop dead simple messages? Read anything written by a major republican in the last five years. They know how to distill down concepts to the most basic loaded phrasing, and it serves them well and to their advantage. "Axis of Evil" and "Tax Relief Act" are fucking brilliant, no matter what your stance is on the actual content of either. They work because they're so simple and so visceral." - but this understanding is less without the historical context of the Powell Memorandum:

Why did so many right leaning think tanks emerge so quickly, in the late 70's and early 80's? The Powell Memorandum is key to understanding these developments.

Midas Mulligan - politicians must smell out resonance, but well-funded think tanks construct these olfactory taboos, from industrial dollars. The art of framing debates is not new, of course. But never, never has so much money been thrown at the problem, that of framing - and it is only recently that framing has been informed by science, by way of the study of public relations and it's black art cousin, propaganda. Tell me that you are unaware of these things at your peril. Ed Bernays?......
posted by troutfishing at 8:36 PM on January 14, 2004


But really, for most of the mainstream, the war is now (gasp) a non-issue. Reports about it are simply social Muzak

Read: we Bushists would really, really prefer that nobody think about the lies that led to the war (gasp), about the ongoing criminal carnage in Iraq, and about body bagged U.S. troops arriving daily. They'd really like to frame the war as "mission accomplished" and "ho hum, been there done that how's the stock market doing today?"

Yeah. "Social Muzak". Really. That's all it is. Background music for America.

So for your listening pleasure, here's a sample of tracks from MidasMulligan's latest album "Social Muzak" (yes, that IS actually Midas on the electric kazoo riffs...):


Overture: The Iraq Body Count Blues

War News for January 14, 2004

Bring ‘em on: Car bomb kills two civilians, wounds 14 Iraqi policemen in Baquba.

Bring ‘em on: ICDC soldier killed in firefight near Tikrit.

Bring 'em on: Eight Iraqis reported killed in firefight with US troops in Samarra.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi policeman killed in attack on police checkpoint in Ramadi. (Last Paragraph.)

Bring ‘em on: US military administrators attacked during meeting with local leaders in Kirkuk.

War News for January 13, 2004

Bring ‘em on: Central Baghdad mortared, more explosions reported.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqis riot in Kut over food and jobs. One coalition soldier and two Iraqi policemen injured.

Bring ‘em on: Anti-American demonstrations reported in Fallujah, apparently caused by this incident of hostage-taking.

Bring 'em on: US troops under RPG fire in central Fallujah. Four Iraqi civilians killed after US troops open fire.

Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed in two ambushes in Mosul.

Bring 'em on: US Apache helicopter shot down near Habbaniya.

War News for January 12, 2004

Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded in Baghdad bomb ambush.

Bring 'em on: US convoy ambushed by roadside bomb near Ramadi. Two Iraqis killed.

US troops kill seven Iraqis stealing oil from pipeline near Samarra.

War News for January 11, 2004

Bring 'em on: British troops kill five Iraqi protesters in Amarah.

Bring 'em on: Iraqis resist raids in Baquba.

Bring 'em on: Attacks on US troops averaged 18 per day over last week.

Bring 'em on: Iraqi-American CPA official assassinated in Basra.

Bring 'em on: Protestors stone British troops as demonstrations continue in Amarah.

Bring 'em on: Two Estonian soldiers wounded in grenade ambush in Baghdad. (Last Paragraph.)

Bring 'em on: PUK offices in Mosul mortared.

Bring 'em on: Two bombs explode in Kirkuk. (Second to last paragraph.)

Non-combat casualties in Iraq cause alarm.

War News for January 10, 2004

Bring 'em on: Five Iraqis killed, 39 wounded by bomb in Baquba.

Bring 'em on: Bomb defused at second mosque in Baquba.

Bring 'em on: Canadian teacher killed in ambush.

Bring 'em on: One US soldier wounded by RPG during firefight in Annah.

Bring 'em on: One contract driver killed, two wounded in convoy ambush near Balad.

Bring 'em on: Rocket attack on hotel in Baghdad.

Bring 'em on: US C-5 transport carrying 63 passengers and crew hit by SAM fire at Baghdad airport.

Bring 'em on: US troops under fire near Fallujah.

Bring 'em on: US troops attacked near Samarra. Two Iraqi insurgents killed, one wounded. (Last paragraph.)

Bring 'em on: Two RPG attacks reported against Iraqi police in Karbala.

Two Iraqi policemen killed by US troops near Tikrit.

War News for January 8, 2004

Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, 34 wounded in mortar attack near Balad.

Bring ‘em on: US Black Hawk crashes near Fallujah. Eight soldiers killed.


Yeah. It's just background music. Elevator stuff. Framing. You know.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:09 PM on January 14, 2004


Hmm... Maybe I can get my representative to sponsor some progressive "Feudalism is Old School" tax legislation.
posted by micropublishery at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2004


My comment, from the almost-famous thread that would not die on Anne Galloway's site:
"From the perspective of PSYOP, influence is about developing master explanatory narratives that people find satisfactory and convincing, adopt as their own, and then replicate. The "right" traditionally has an easier time gaining political traction because its master narratives - Family, God, Nation, Tradition - are already half embedded in most populations, and thus appear more convincing than the "waffling, body-pierced, Volvo-driving" explanations the "left" has to offer. That's how I've always read it, anyway."

Sounds kinda like I agree with MidasMulligan, oddly enough. (Must be that occult 10001 influence.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:44 PM on January 14, 2004


Wedge issues aren't, precisely, the same as framing, but they're closely related in some ways. It has seemed to me for a long time that the Republicans are frequently very good and occasionaly masterful at choosing wedge issues, issues which will unite their hardcore loyalists and the vast middle of "Reagan Democrats" (a nice framing device itself). Democrats, on the other hand, seem instinctually drawn again and again to wedge issues which not only fail to unite their hardcore loyalists with the vast middle, they chuck the wedge right in the middle of their own core -- even further to the left {to use a handy rhetorical device} than the Republicans will. The Democrats create their own suicidal wedge issues!

Case in point: in the 2000 election it was clear that the Republicans were working hard to limit voting rights for felons, for various reasons often discussed here in the blue. Yet in that election year, the Democrats were actually holding rallies and defining talking points around making sure that felons got their right to vote.

Whether they should have a right to vote is irrelevant to what I'm saying here. (I think that generally they should, but making them reapply through a judge doesn't bother me, and in general I think that permitting someone to vote should err on the side of permissiveness.) What I'm saying is that Democrats -- deliberately -- chose an issue that identified Democratic causes with convicted felons, and demanded redress for people whom the vast middle don't much care about anyway. They completely framed the issue against themselves long before Florida, chads, and Katherine Harris became front page news. When they did, the work of Democratic activists identifying convicted felons' voting rights with classic Democratic memes such as racism worked against them, to devastating effect. The Republicans remain exercised, to a ludicrous emotional degree, over a few hundred or a few thousand cases of "vote fraud". But activists such as Palast continue to hammer home arguments that will only endear themselves to their hardcore supporters. You're never going to get Joe Sixpack to the polls thinking, Damn, we gotta reenfranchise armed robbers, rapists, and embezzlers! In fact, pressing the issue is more likely to get Joe Sixpack thinking, in the voting booth, Hmp, this guy stands up for the thug who robbed me. Screw him.

Similarly, the fussle and tussle over the ad that managed to say "DemocRATS" only served to publicize and reinforce the Democrats = RATS connection among people who otherwise had never heard of, much less seen, the ad. To this day I can't say for myself whether the ad was deliberately edited that way, but certainly the RATS meme has spread throughout Usenet and other venues of lame political discussion. Talk about handing the other guy ammunition...

I simply don't think it's true that Democrats have failed to completely grasp framing, or never manage to frame things successfully. Midas is spot on about Clinton's economy, stupid quasi-slogan (although it probably turned off more than a few who thought the stupid was aimed at them; in fact it was a war-room slogan aimed at the self). The left has had enormous success for well over a generation with what has become reframed as political correctness and the victim game; we eliminated plenty of discrimination and inequality this way. But the memes aren't working as well as they used to, anymore, and what I see is the disarray of an undisciplined retreat -- progressives who understand that what went across well 20 years ago doesn't, today, are staking out new battle lines right where they stand, and losing. Instead of fighting effective holding actions, they're choosing to defend indefensible terrain like voting rights for felons. We've lost that one for the forseeable future. Let it go. Hope for the courts. The world of politics is too razor-thin balanced these days to waste energy on self-defeating issues.

The progressives who will continue to contribute to this failure are easily identified. They're the ones who see that vast middle, and rather than cajole it, rather than frame questions that will draw them to the progressive message, rather than seek allies, demonize the very folk they need. I guess it serves their emotional needs, but it doesn't help the political goals one bit.

This may explain why I'm frequently at odds with Metafilter threads, despite being a self-identified liberal with much sympathy for the rote list of Causes. I see the framing of the post, and I think it's self-defeating. Even this very thread doesn't seem to talk about what Lakoff himself acknowledges are things we could learn from the success of conservative framing. Are we just to go down shaking our fists? Or are we to think more broadly about our goals, our choices of language, and our own toolkit of methods? More succinctly, perhaps, is progressivism about using the structure of government -- executive power, legislation, judicial fiat -- to effect change, or is it, should it, be ultimately more about changing minds so that the progress is painless? The former, I would observe, is a good way to get people to hate you. It should be used sparingly. The latter is slower, but ultimately more lasting.
posted by dhartung at 11:21 PM on January 14, 2004


BushTax
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:50 AM on January 15, 2004


The "BushTax" is a good meme, albeit a single word one. This is one reason I like the Dean campaign - it generally seems to have a better knack for framing than the other democratic contender's campaigns. Can Dean win? I can think of a lot of strong presidential tickets with Dean, the best being "Clark-Dean". They would play good cop - bad cop, with Dean leveling blistering attacks on Bush, while Clark stayed properly presidential and maintained an optimistic, forward looking demeanor.

______________________________________________


AdamGreenfield - Yes, I agree. The US right does exploit preexisting "master narrative" themes which are preembedded (God, family, tradition, nation...) but this is only one element of the overall strategy. PR professionals choose, for any "frame", preexisting themes to exploit for benefit : some of these are based in human instinct, some in deeper currents of human culture and - the less conscious these themes are actually are, and the closer they approximate instinct, the better.

PR (or PSYOP) professionals cannot create, articulate, or mutate embedded themes on command - this takes decades : and not all "embedded" themes are created. Some are probably tied to our instinctual nature, as a tribalistic species. These instinctually embedded themes are certainly elaborated on through PR. But the metaphor of PR professionals strolling through the American, or public, psyche and picking up salient unconscious or semiconscious themes for exploit is only partially accurate.

That is where the ancillary "services" lakoff discusses (quite pointedly) come to the fore. As Lakoff notes, billions of dollars, literally, have been poured into right wing think tanks since Powell's memo - and these constitute only one front of a larger campaign. One of the key functions of such organizations, I would agree with Lakoff, is to embed themes (or memes). This takes time and persistence, and incessant repetition.

There is no reason at all the the left cannot use these tactics as effectively as does the US right. And - this should come down mainly to money, although I suspect the left might have an additional benefit of a deeper well of creative talent - much of it is freely given.

But the left is crippled by - beyond it's much smaller PR budget - the key shortcoming of it's unease with violence, and it's belief in the value of (what it perceives as) peaceability, objective truth and fairness, and democratic ideals. Now, these are good values. But they are not especially helpful values to hold if one is doing PR work which, I think I am justified in saying, is actively Machiavellian. No wide eyed, democracy worshipping, non-violent, egalitarian ingenue can be really effective at the task of constructing good political attack themes/memes, or framing, or embedding themes, through endless repetition, for later exploitation. These are - in the view of some - "black arts".

Even covert political attacks language has violent undertones.....politics is warfare by other means, I suppose, and the Bush Administration has taken this truism to heart. But on the other side of the American political equation....

At heart, liberals are uneasy with what is - at base - an exercise in both effective framing (arguably a neutral project) but, more importantly, in active manipulation. The manipulative aspects of political PR make liberals uneasy for their idealistic commitment to democratic principles, whereas republicans tend to be less committed to the idea of democracy - partly out of their sense that not all humans are created equal. Republicans? Democrats? - 'nough said. The Bush NeoCon love of Straussian theory is not by accident. The people are a beast, in this view, to be led by whatever means are at hand - " The people do not know, really, what is in their best interest. Left to their own devices, the shifting whims of the mob would bring on anarchy." This, one pole of American Democracy, is the deep underpinning of the republican impulse which - in it's extreme articulation - leads to the tyranny of dictators and kings.

And as the party of business - or, at least, big business (which is the scale of business to employ full time PR departments waging ongoing campaigns) - republicans are far more steeped in the language and nuance of PR than democrats, almost constitutionally so. All language is PR, one might hold and - even though extreme adherents to this view might verge close to sociopathology - this view cannot be disproved and is a highly effective one to hold for personal or political advancement.

The left, considering this language and approach - as one might view a rat gnawing at ripe garbage in the gutter, shrinks away in disgust. Repulsive! - it shrieks, not paying attention to the fact the Martin Luther King was a master of framing and that Gandhi himself was not always a universal advocate of nonviolence and also believed Hitler could be reasoned with : these totemic saints have been choked by an idealized mythology which has grown up around them and obscured instructive personal flaws which give lie, and nuance at least, to the cult of the deified peaceful warrior who struggles and sacrifices all - life even - for the greater social good.

Even nonviolence is a relative virtue, and the left prudently averts it's gaze from the seamier side of public relations at great political peril.
posted by troutfishing at 7:01 AM on January 15, 2004


Dan - I agree with your overall take on the Democrat's peculiar knack for choosing suicidal wedge issues. I'd take issue with you example, though.

Greg Palast's research into the blatantly illegal tactics, on the part of Jeb Bush and Kathleen Harris (the point woman), to purge democratic voters from the Florida voting rolls, does not constitute a message which - for better or worse - travels much farther than the circles of an energized democratic base.

Republicans, also, do not want to shine a spotlight on this episode for the fact that a good number of those illegally purged from the Florida voting rolls were not felons at all and - further - for the larger reason that this sleazy Florida 2000 election affair, which on it's own was sufficient to place George W. Bush in the White House, is only one episode in a much larger pattern of republican behavior - a la Diebold, gerrymandering, and so on - of using illegal and anti-democratic tactics to subvert democracy. As Kevin Phillips noted of the Bush clan, this is a political dynasty which seems to have learned it's tactics from a CIA playbook .

I suppose the Bush's reckon that the US has been sliding downhill, towards Brazilian style underdevelopment, for a while and so the time has come to employ those devious methods developed by the CIA - for the subversion of developing, Third World, democracies - to attempt to control the American People.

Republicans do not especially want to draw attention to their behavior, all the more so for the very potent attack memes couched, implicit : "Republicans don't believe in Democracy", "The party of kings and Bushes" , and so on. These could be shaped into an incendiary uber-meme if the DNC and the rogue MoveOn's of the party would pull down and read - for the first time perhaps - their dusty copies of "The Prince" and "The Art of War"....to then go out and purchase some of Edward Bernays' books, and a few college course level primers on advertising. To rest their tired, bleary eyes, they can rent and screen "The Triumph of the Will".

The RNC watched this video so much, it broke and wasn't on the shelves for a bit, until the new DVD copy came in. Now, it's back in stock.

The Democrats should rent it out : Riefenstahl will learn 'em some.
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on January 15, 2004


the core point was the Powell Memorandum which - unfortunately - got lost in the wash.

The old, sad song. Once again, with feeling: if you have an important point to make, don't clutter it up. Irony and excess are the great killers of points. Provide context in the "more within"; frame (ahem) the post up front so nobody will mistake what you're saying.

dhartung: Great comment (as usual); I've almost given up trying to tell people this, because it seems 95% of humanity would rather make its feelings known than actually make a difference in the world.
posted by languagehat at 9:11 AM on January 15, 2004


Republicans do not especially want to draw attention to their behavior

Perhaps the Idea of Republican Greens is another aspect of the different methods politicians and the parties use to expand their voter base. (since i assume most greens vote green first, which is at best a generality)

Greens say Republicans crashed their party
Environmentalists accuse them of helping in order to sabotage Democrats

Tuesday, August 7, 2001


a day later and one state over...

August 8, 2001
Republican greens take root in Oregon


The left definition posted by languagehat is spot on. If I may add that when this ceremonial setting did become political many member of the right went over to the left as the revolution "progressed" which finally feel into an assembly where "leftist" (girodins) where considered rightist or reactionary. These crossovers made up a lot of the victims of the terror as did "leftists".
posted by clavdivs at 10:10 AM on January 15, 2004


Yeah, the idea that revolutions invariably devour their own made a big impression on me in college and made me look askance at the more "tough-minded," ideological lefties with whom I basically agreed on the issues: "If you were in power," thought I, "you'd have me in a dungeon within a year." I'll take a corrupt pol over an ideologue any day.
posted by languagehat at 10:26 AM on January 15, 2004


I'll take a corrupt pol over an ideologue any day.

The problem with that is that, in America, to be the latter is often the definition of being the former ... and we voters shouldn't trust or accept either one.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2004


Speaking of idealogues, has anyone come across a "Chinese Proverb" (no, really!) comparing ideologues to wild animals who should be caged?
posted by troutfishing at 12:58 PM on January 15, 2004


to pick up trout's very good Bernays reference:

In the twenties, Bernays fathered the link between corporate sales campaigns and popular social causes, when while working for the American Tobacco Company he persuaded women's rights marchers in New York City to hold up Lucky Strike cigarettes as symbolic "Torches of Freedom." In October of 1929, Bernays also originated the now familiar "global media event," when he dreamed up "Light's Golden Jubilee" a worldwide celebration commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the electric light bulb, sponsored behind-the-scenes -- by the General Electric Corporation.


you know, he was the not-so-nice guy (and also Freud's nephew) who said that "'If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it". He called it the 'engineering of consent'."

of course this is not particularly news for those who are familiar with Aristophanes


I'll take a corrupt pol over an ideologue any day.


so now you have both! at the same time!
posted by matteo at 1:32 PM on January 15, 2004


burma shave
posted by clavdivs at 2:29 PM on January 15, 2004



heh
"shave the modern way", huh?

I myself am partial to Penhaligon's Hammam Shaving Cream (Luchino Visconti used it too, I recently discovered with a certain amount of pride) , but I see your point -- to go brushless is always an interesting solution


posted by matteo at 4:07 PM on January 15, 2004


to pick up trout's very good Bernays reference

I'll pick it up and run with it myself. Let's not forget that Bernays did worse things than pushing Luckies; for instance, helping set the stage for the overthrow of Guatemala's government in 1954: "Bernays's most infamous success in the political realm was his propaganda campaign on behalf of United Fruit (now Chiquita Banana) against the liberal Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán."

Needless to say, Bernays did not act alone:
Elected in 1950, in Guatemala's first ever democratic elections, the aim of the popular Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz was to transform Guatemala from a backward country with a predominantly feudal economy to a modern capitalist state. As part of this process, Arbenz felt he had a strong mandate to instigate land reforms. Around 100,000 peasants received land through the reform; 234,000 acres of unused land owned by the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company (UFCO) were expropriated with the offer of compensation that UFCO found "unacceptable". Displeased by Arbenz's reforms, UFCO began to apply pressure on the U.S. government and the CIA to take action.

In response, the U.S. State Department, working closely with the CIA, evolved a covert plan to overthrow Arbenz, with the name PBSUCCESS. The absurdity of the idea that Bernays was somehow a rogue genius operating "single-handedly" is revealed by Stephen Schlesinger, who reports that "the [1954] Putsch was conceived of and run at the highest levels of the American Government in closest cahoots with the United Fruit Company and under the overall direction of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, backed by President Eisenhower".
posted by languagehat at 5:57 PM on January 15, 2004


Holy crap! - Languagehat, I'm floored. I thought I knew about most of the sleaze involved in the Gautemala '54 coup, but obviously not! Bernays....United Fruit. There must be even more there to be dug up.

I'm a little slow on the uptake - I'm still digesting the John Foster Dulles/Alan Dulles/Union Banking Corp/fascist/anticommunist associations. As Clavdivs noted in a recent link, Allan Dulles (and probably his brother as well) was creepy. The nastiness of this personal nexus - which pulls in the Bush clan as well - is still emerging.

But "Burma shave" blew right over my head. I'll figure it out eventually.
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 PM on January 15, 2004


"HH: Well, I was in Tokyo then, I was just settling in. I'd been yanked off the project, it having been said by Dulles that, you know, "You're almost finished here - everything is going well. We need you badly in Tokyo; please get on the next plane, as it were, and get over there."

for the trout archives.
you probably have this little number too.

i always thought the 'sulfatos' bombings where ludicrous, i mean sounds of bombs exploding played over the American embassy public-adress system?
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 PM on January 15, 2004


From dhartung's post:Talk about handing the other guy ammunition...

What do you think of Dennis Miller's new CNBC show? Here's his impetus:

One of the biggest malfeasances of the left right now is the mislabeling of Hitler. Quit saying this guy is Hitler," he said, referring to Mr. Bush. "Hitler is Hitler. That's the quintessential evil in the history of the universe, and we're throwing it around on MoveOn.org to win a contest. That's grotesque to me."

Which is to entirely, grotesquely, miss the point. Here's MoveOn.org's position.

The Republican National Committee and its chairman have falsely accused MoveOn.org of sponsoring ads on its website which compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler. The claim is deliberately and maliciously misleading.

During December the MoveOn.org Voter Fund invited members of the public to submit ads that purported to tell the truth about the President and his policies. More than 1,500 submissions from ordinary Americans came in and were posted on a web site, bushin30seconds.org, for the public to review.

None of these was our ad, nor did their appearance constitute endorsement or sponsorship by MoveOn.org Voter Fund. They will not appear on TV. We do not support the sentiment expressed in the two Hitler submissions. They were voted down by our members and the public, who reviewed the ads and submitted nearly 3 million critiques in the process of choosing the 15 finalist entries.

We agree that the two ads in question were in poor taste and deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process. In the future, if we publish or broadcast raw material, we will create a more effective filtering system.

Contrast this with the behavior of the RNC and its allies when supporters of President Bush used TV ads morphing the face of Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) into that of Osama Bin Laden during the 2002 Senate race.

MoveOn.org and the MoveOn.org Voter Fund exist to bring the public into the political process and produce a more fact-based election process. We regret that the RNC doesn’t seem to embrace the same goals.


But yet, inexplicably, the issue remains "framed" in such a way that, as Dennis Miller would have you believe, MoveOn.org sponsored ads equating Dubya to Hitler -- end of story. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. But nevertheless, the issue has indeed been framed. True or not. And Dennis Miller's show has yet to start.

So therefore it gets worse. Lakoff is so right, that it's fundamentally impossible to see the ease at which his alarm has been justified. It's you. It's me. It's everything. Discourse in this country is in a state of rot. That's why it smells so sweet.
posted by crasspastor at 2:48 AM on January 16, 2004


I thought that MoveOn.org made a dumb tactical error in backing down on that one.

They could have deftly reframed the issue, saying :

"Obviously, we have no control over the material applicants submit. But the ads do not equate Bush with Hitler.

Furthermore, it IS a historical fact that a large part of the Bush family fortune handed down by George W. Bush's grandfather, was derived from Nazi-era war profits. This, of course, does not make George W. Bush Hitler. Far from from it. George W. Bush is not Hitler. Not Hitler at all.

Hitler's rule was charactorized by extremely close ties between private industry and government........."

Long for a sound bite, but I think I've made my drift obvious.

Dennis Miller bills himself as an iconoclast, but lately he's just sucking at the asshole of power.



Clavdivs - thanks for posting the material on Guatemela.
posted by troutfishing at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2004


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