Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, December 12, 2011

Frank Luntz Has More Tricks Up His Sleeve

Everyone was amused last week when Frank Luntz told an audience that he was “scared to death” of Occupy Wall Street, and “we need to get our message out better,” etc.

But a slick political manipulator who’s “scared to death” is a wounded Grizzly Bear backed into a corner.  Getting complacent now would be analogous to Dick Cheney’s famous “the insurgency is on its last legs” speech, when we were just a few months into our 8-year quagmire in Iraq.

Goege Lakoff — the author of the linked article — has written extensively on the Far Right’s decades-long master plan.  He’s a linguistics professor, and he’s totally zeroed in on rightwing think tanks’ success in using language — shades of meanings, word associations, nuances — to gain a virtual stranglehold on the American psyche.  Republican masterminds — e..g. Frank Luntz — can use the most innocuous-sounding phrase or code word, and millions of dupes will snap to attention with the predictability of Pavlov’s dogs.

By now, Frank Luntz’ talking points — about Wall Street versus the Occupy movement — are out in the open, so they’ve lost their psychological impact.  Once you’ve seen how the magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat, you’re not going to be dazzled when he does the same trick again.  So now Frank Luntz has to go back to the drawing board.

In his “scared to death” speech, Luntz named several rightwing phrases that had “backfired” — “oh darn it, we can’t use these terms any more.”  Two of his examples were “capitalism” and “taxes.”  The purpose of his speech — at least in part — was to trick Democrats into thinking “all right, we’ll use these exact terms in our own speeches, since Frank Luntz is afraid of them.”

But it’s a trap.  Wall Street and its Republican prostitutes are framing this whole issue in terms of risk-taking hardworking taxpayers versus a bunch of parasites who want free stuff.  If Democrats use terms like “taxes,” “the rich” and “capitalism” in their speeches, they’ll be playing right into Luntz’ hands.

Words that Democrats and liberals SHOULD use include:  revenue (instead of taxes) and investing (instead of spending).  And Democrats need to play up — harder, louder, more often — the fact that large corporations exert a much greater control over our lives than any government agency.  And they need to keep talking relentlessly about corporate welfare, wasteful military spending and the absolute absurdity of the term “job creator.”

Anyway, this article has some excellent advice.  If you click on George Lakoff's name at the top of the article, you can access some of his other writings.  The Right has brainwashed millions of Americans using language techniques that George Orwell never remotely imagined.  Let George Lakoff show you how they've done it.  Know Your Enemy.  Forewarned is forearmed.  Etc.  This article concludes with:

“Progressives have magnificent stories of their own to tell. They need to be telling them nonstop.  Let's lure the right into using OUR frames in public discourse.”

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Excellent post, Tom, and some excellent advice. I do think the central theme Democrats should be hammering on now is to once and for all thoroughly discredit the whole trickle-down/supply side con job in the public mind. Democrats should also demonize those who spew that drivel.

I did get a kick out of Luntz saying, "we need to get our message out better.” That's like Chef Boyardee telling people to eat more canned ravioli.

December 12, 2011 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Lakoff is right, we on the left don't do nearly enough good work in the propaganda department. This definitely is the area in which the battle is being fought, and if tricksters like Luntz can't be exposed, we at least need to be fighting fire with fire!

December 13, 2011 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Propaganda,are you kidding? he left with the help of the media propped the most unknown,inexperienced candidate by making people believe he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
By the was what a noble thing Occupy did closing down ports making sure the middle class workers couldn't et to work.
Now they want to squat in foreclosed homes? Good luck with the creation of a permanent under class society. Yep nothing scary about that. We should embrace it.

December 13, 2011 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

I'm beginning to understand how Soviet Russia felt for the early part of last 60 years. Huddled by a small secret radio trying to listen to the truth from the outside world.

The left can't get it's message out because corporate owned media is carrying Wall Streets' water bucket. I have heard nothing good about the Occupy movement on main stream media yet they are doing many great things like feeding the homeless and trying their best to look after the mentally ill. Something that our government is supposed to be doing.

Sorry boys the king has no clothes and America is waking up to the fact. All the spin in the world won't help you now.

December 13, 2011 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

Lisa seems to forget her history. Like why we have an 8 hour work day or a 5 day work week and who fought and died to make it that way. I'll give you a hint it wasn't the military.

December 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Thanks. I agree, we need to thoroughly debunk the whole trickle-down scam AND demonize the people who keep spreading these lies.

Snave: Absolutely. No more bringing a pocket knife to a gun fight. It's time to fight fire with fire.

Lisa: I'm still trying to decipher your series of off-topic non sequiturs. I'll get back to you...

Demeur: Good analogy. A few non-mainstream news sites are our version of those American and European broadcasts beaming into the Soviet Union 60 years ago. I hope more Americans start tuning in.

December 13, 2011 at 1:08 PM  

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