The Art of Doublespeak

Language is important.  Words can inspire, inflame, enrage.  Words can hide a speaker’s intentions.  Sing me a lullaby.  Spin me a fairytale.  Sell me a load of bull-hockey.

One of today’s best-known language twisters is Frank Luntz.  Pollster and political consultant, Luntz is the Master of Political Doublespeak.  He would have made Orwell proud:  War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.  He crawls out during every election cycle with the creepy focus groups, wired up and ready to go.  We learn ‘what words work.’  Otherwise known as  ‘what words obfuscate, spin and get the best reaction from would-be voters.’

Well, here’s a Newsflash: Luntz is worried about Occupy Wall Street, all those sorry slackers the GOP and various critics have sidelined as hippies, losers and Obama-lovers.  Seems from Luntz’s point of view, OWS is having an impact on political discourse. 

No kidding Sherlock! 

And so, Luntz decided a tutorial was needed to school Republicans how to “speak” when asked questions about the very issues that the Occupy wave has been raising. 

Fascinating!  A defense against the so-called irrelevant.  But even more fascinating is the list of rules on how to ‘discuss and defend against’ the grievances that Occupy members  have introduced into the public sphere.

The very first instruction made me laugh:

Don’t say capitalism.

Because people might start questioning the broken economic construct that’s taken root in the US.  Btw, I haven’t heard OWS slamming capitalism, per se.  It’s Vulture Capitalism, the darling of the neoliberal/libertarian set, that’s being questioned and panned, where only the well-heeled financial class takes the booty while the rest of the country is left to collect unemployment checks and shop with food stamps.  Sorry, don’t think ‘free market’ or ‘economic freedom’ will wash in a country where poverty is rising at an alarming rate and over 20% of American kids are classified as food insecure.

Politicians whether Right or Left need to do far better than that.  Like maybe tell the truth: that the financial class in this country has been running a huge Ponzi scheme, that transnational corporations are willing to run roughshod over everything in a blind pursuit of profit, that endless war makes money for the few, while the many bleed.

That would be refreshing.

Don’t say the government taxes the rich.  Tell them the government takes from the rich.

Oh yes, that’s much better.  Then pull out Warren Buffet’s statement that his tax rate [as a multi-billionaire] is lower than what his secretary is required to pay.  And please, take a spin over the corporate history of negative taxes after all the loopholes and government largesse heaped on the ‘job creators’ is taken in to account. Then too, let’s not forget the ‘off-shore’ pooling of tax-free profits and tidy nest eggs.   The beat goes on for those with the courage to look. 

The government takes from the rich?   Hahaha.  More like the government sucks up to the rich and their ever-present lobbyists.

Republicans should forget winning the battle for the middle-class.  Call them hardworking tax-payers.

Yes, Republicans should forget winning the middle-class since they’ve gone out of their way to eliminate them, crush them out like last year’s cigarettes.

Frank Luntz is ‘really’ scared of the Occupy Movement ?  With rules like this he may be out of a job. If the Republican’s go-to wordsmith can’t get his head or words around the basic complaints of not simply Occupy but most Americans and/or the very real economic and political discontent, then they are deaf, dumb and blind.

Or maybe smart like the wily fox.  Because the evidence is everywhere.  What to do?  Keep the disinformation and propaganda machine in high gear.  I won’t belabor the hypocrisy and cynicism of Luntz’s list.  He and the entire stable of political pollsters, consultants and analysts on all sides are merely symptoms of a system flailing in the wind, a system that’s forgotten how to reach out or even talk to real people in anything approaching honest discourse.  A system that has no respect for its citizenry.

Will the Luntz approach work as it has in the past? 

We shall see.  But I invite you to read the Ten Commandments of Political Doublespeak for 2012 at the link above.  Some examples will make you laugh.  Several will make you mad as hell. 

Oh, and here’s a tip: Don’t say the word ‘Bonus.’

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9 Comments on “The Art of Doublespeak”

  1. Susan says:

    If Democrats want to really inform voters, they should go house to house, providing each voter with a copy of this article. Then, go house to house and give it to them again.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      It’s pretty appalling. I’m so glad this reporter was able to slip into the conference. I’ve caught Luntz several times on Fox, running these focus groups. But it was never this blatant. This is really aimed to misdirect the average voter. Lie but do it with finesse. It’s been working for Republicans for over 30 years. But the ‘you know what’ is really hitting the fan now and average Americans know something is very, very wrong. Using or not using particular words or phrases aren’t going to change the reality on the ground for the unemployed or those losing their homes. It’s a major wake-up moment.

      Thanks for the read, Susan!

  2. Fannie says:

    Use the phrases “small business owners” and “job creators” instead of entreprenuers and innovators…………….

    Then file this under republican bullshit exposed:

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/10/small_business.html

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Another terrific post! Yes, words are very powerful. Unfortunately Republicans are a lot better at selling their propaganda than Democrats are. In fact Democrats buy the Republican propaganda it seems.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Thanks, BB. And sadly, you’re right about too many Dems buying into Republican talking points. But I’m glad the deficit, deficit, deficit mantra has been drowned out by OWS messaging.

      Not too bad for a bunch of slackers! :0)

      • ralphb says:

        That’s a great contribution OWS has already made to the political discourse. They have widened it and moved it left without really trying much of anything except showing up.

  4. ralphb says:

    No doublespeak here, just some plain truth about “job creators” from a very rich venture capitalist, one of the 0.1%.

    Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators: Nick Hanauer

    When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.

    It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.

    That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion’s share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

    (…)
    We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Middle-class consumers do, and when they thrive, U.S. businesses grow and profit. That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.

    So let’s give a break to the true job creators. Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth by putting purchasing power back in the hands of the middle class. And let’s remember that capitalists without customers are out of business.