The Art of DoublespeakPosted: December 1, 2011
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.’