Thursday, December 1, 2011

Scared Of Occupy's Message, Republicans Will Resort To Doublespeak To Protect The 1%

GOP strategist and pollster Frank Luntz is known, as David Atkins says, "for his ability to use the emotional power of language to bullshit the public at a slant, while maintaining a connection to reality and avoiding direct, outright lying."  Some of his greatest hits include advising Republicans to refer to the estate tax as the "death tax" and oil drilling as "energy exploration."

At a meeting of the Republican Governor's Association this week he admitted to being "so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort."  He said he was "frightened to death, because "they're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

As Laura Clawson explains, "he had a lot of advice that was standard Luntzian stuff—find the worst-sounding way to describe a basic function of government and run with it, like rather than 'taxing the rich, describe it as 'taking from the rich,' as if taxes were jargon that needed translation."

Other examples, as described by Steve Benen: "'waste' and “government spending' are apparently supposed to be interchangeable. Calls for 'sacrifice' and 'compromise' are easily misunderstood. Voters don’t believe Republicans are defending the middle class, so GOP officials should instead talk about 'hardworking taxpayers.'"

Greg Sargent points to what is a "striking concession":
This longtime GOP pollster, adviser, and messaging expert is admitting that the Dem push for tax hikes on the rich has Republicans on the defensive, and that Republicans need to come up with a better way of obscuring what Dems are trying to achieve on the issue. He’s also admitting that the public isn’t inclined to believe Republicans represent the interests of the middle class.
There's more.  Luntz advised how one should respond to an Occupier or Occupy-sympathizer:
First off, here are three words for you all:  "I get it." . . . "I get that you're angry.  I get that you've seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system."
Or as Clawson translates it:   "I get that you're angry. I get that you've seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system. Here's my plan to make sure that the 1 percent gets even more of this country's wealth."

Seth Michaels sums it up well:  "Take these talking points for what they are—calculated falsehoods, and a cheap, transparent attempt to use real economic worries to support the same old 1% agenda."

Luntz's ideas don't seem particularly persuasive but he is right that the right should be scared.  As Atkins concludes:
One could argue here that Luntz is losing his magic touch here. But one could also say that conservatives are in enough of a message bind right now that this is all Luntz has to work with on the subjects of Wall St. and inequality. I tend to lean toward to the latter view.
This is a big glass jaw for the conservative movement, one they can only protect by attempting to steer the conversation to something, anything else. Dems and progressives need not to get distracted. They need to punch and punch hard.


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