luntz heroically attempts to spin his own spin

A few weeks ago, top Republican message man, Frank Luntz, allowed a copy of his ’05 newspeak playbook, entitled “A New American Lexicon,” to fall into the hands of the Progressive enemy. Well, now that his words are all over the internet, he’s trying to do his “trust me, it’s really not propaganda” damage control. Here’s a quote from his recent op-ed in the LA Times:

I’ve been a pollster and wordsmith for senators and CEOs for more than a decade, and I have a particular interest in language. What words do people understand? What’s the clear, common-sense way to say what you mean? And how can politicians best educate and express their ideas?

That’s why I wrote a “A New American Lexicon” for my business and political clients. But it soon made its way to the Internet, where it raised a storm among Democrats in Washington and in the blogosphere, who accused me of the worst kind of spin. They say I’m manipulating the debate in an attempt to obscure the true effect of the policies I advocate. Yet this lexicon genuinely seeks to establish a common language for a pro-business, pro-freedom agenda.

The folks at Think Progress, one of the groups most aggressively tearing into the Luntz material, were quick to respond. Here’s a clip:

Luntz asks, “What words do people understand? What’s the clear, common-sense way to say what you mean? And how can politicians best educate and express their ideas?” When it comes to the deficit, Luntz gives his simple answer – exploit a tragedy – in his playbook: “September 11 changed everything. So start with 9/11…. Without the context of 9/11, you will be blamed for the deficit…. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9/11.”

I think that pretty much says it all. Luntz, among other things, suggested that his clients (the President included) use 9/11 to further their radical political agendas, and, now that it’s been exposed, he’s trying to spin his own spin… “What I said was pro-freedom. If you don’t like it, you must be anti-freedom. Are you anti-freedom? It sounds like you’re anti-freedom.”

(note: Just as distasteful as his suggestion that Republicans use the 9/11 attacks to deflect charges of economic mismanagement, at least to me, was his suggestion in the playbook that Republicans turn logic on its head and suggest that American jobs are being outsourced to other countries not because that’s where the cheap labor is, but because the Democrats have created an environment in the US that’s inhospitable to business. He suggests that when someone says, “My job went to China,” that Republican politicians respond with something like, “Well, that’s exactly why we need to cut taxes and eliminate regulation.”)

9/11 changed everything. And there’s not a problem that deep, permanent tax cuts can’t fix.

While we’re on the subject of the Republican message machine, a reader by the name of Arun just sent in a great link to a piece that takes us inside the minds of college Republicans. If you get a chance, it’s worth the read.

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6 Comments

  1. anonymous
    Posted March 19, 2005 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Here is a quote from the article about college republicans you linked to: “My fellow liberals and I didn

  2. Posted March 20, 2005 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    College Republicans. . . aren’t they the evil frat in Animal House?

    This indoctrination goes on in the high schools, as well. We have a conservatives club at my school. A Republican teacher started it, no doubt so that he can get these kids thinking early and often, “It’s okay to be greedy,” “We deserve to be so privileged,” and “Why should I care about other people?” There are kids who are just born Republicans. They fall right into it as if it were made for them. Personality might be the determining factor (an idea that is scary). And of course, there are a lot of rich parents in my district preaching GOP propaganda. The day they propose to put up a Reagan statue in front of the school is the day that I think I’ll start looking for a new job.

    Did anybody see the movie, PCU? I know it’s a so-so comedy, but I can’t seem to shake the images of the ridiculous, overzealous student-activist groups as they were portrayed. Perceived legitimacy is what it’s all about. Young Republicans are so often portrayed as weenie weasel, brown-nosing dicks and prisses in the movies and on TV (Animal House, PCU, Alex Keaton on Family Matters, Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air–it seems to me there are plenty more of such characterizations). How does this reconcile with the real-world legitimacy that young Republican groups seem to have? Why aren’t they laughed off of campus?

  3. mark
    Posted March 20, 2005 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I appreciate your thoughts, Anonymous, but I think if you go back and read through the transcripts you’ll see that every time serious attempts were made to engage the trolls in real, meaningful debate, they followed the same pattern. They 1) plagiarized, 2) hurled personal attacks, and then 3) attempted to change the course of the conversation by bringing up off-topic issues like Ward Churchill, the

  4. Jim
    Posted March 20, 2005 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for bringing up Luntz again, as I

  5. mark
    Posted March 21, 2005 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Jim, I didn

  6. Jim
    Posted March 21, 2005 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I figured that that’s what you meant; thanks for clarifying the point.

    I can hardly believe that Clementine could be anything but a delight! I hope you catch up on your sleep tonight.

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