Frank Luntz, arguably the GOP’s top messaging strategist, said Wednesday:
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
So just as he did with his infamous 2003 global warming warming memo – which taught conservatives how to sound like they care about the issue while opposing all action — Luntz has some key advice for Republicans on how to pretend to care about regular people while continuing to screw them over.
Amazingly, “Yahoo News sat in on the session,” where Luntz went through his spin at the Republican Governor’s Association on “How can Republicans do a better job of talking about Occupy Wall Street?”
Here are key do’s and don’ts from Luntz:
- Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
- Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
- Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
- Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘waste.’
- Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’
- The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: ‘I get it.’
- Out: ‘Entrepreneur.’ In: ‘Job creator.’
- “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”
- Don’t ever ask anyone you want them to ‘sacrifice.’
- Always blame Washington.
Yes, and some in the media still try to apportion blame equally between Democrats and Republicans for the toxic state of American politics.
George Orwell, in his famous 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” wrote that
“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Democrats do sometimes misuse the language and create euphemisms. All politicians do. But it is Luntz and his legion of conservative followers who have twisted the English language beyond recognition. They are the true Orwellians. The GOP parrot him as if they were reciting lessons in grammar school (see, for instance, Luntz’s memo, “The Language of Healthcare 2009,” which became the GOP playbook for attacking reform).
Is there any nonsense phrase that has been repeated to death this year more than “job creator” — in spite of the fact that for all of the wealth GOP policies have showered on the wealthy they didn’t actually create any net jobs under President Bush?
And yes, I put “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming” into the list above even though it is from Luntz’s 2003 climate memo. I included it because conservatives continue trying to blame “the left” for supposedly changing the name from “global warming” to “climate change” (see Debunking the dumbest denier myth: ‘Climate Change’ vs. ‘Global Warming’). For the record, while I would normally be inclined to recommend progressives say the exact opposite of whatever Luntz recommends for conservatives, there is way too much conflicting analysis to suggest that one of those terms is somehow more effective than the other. Feel free to use both.
How powerful are Luntz’s memos in the energy/climate debate (he wrote one on energy in 2005)? Just think how many people who want to sound like they care about the issue follow his advice and talk about breakthrough technology as the only answer — see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah.” As Business Week noted at the time “what’s most striking about Bush’s Apr. 27 speech is how closely it follows the script written by Luntz earlier this year.”
Returning to Luntz’s Occupy Wall Street advice, his comments on capitalism are the most revealing and important for progressives.