Luntz Watch: 9/11, The Perfect Distraction

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"Luntz Watch: 9/11, The Perfect Distraction"

[Influential conservative strategist Frank Luntz has produced a 160-page playbook to advance the right-wing agenda. Think Progress cuts through the spin and gives you the tools you need to fight back. Check here for updates throughout the week.]

In his memo on how to manipulate American perception on the economy, right-wing spinmeister Frank Luntz advises conservatives to “resist the temptation’ to use facts and figures about the economy. (You know, all those pesky statistics about lower wages, unemployment, skyrocketing deficits, etc.) Instead, he advises, you can’t go wrong if you continuosly remind people about the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “This is the context that explains and justifies why we have $500 billion deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6%.”

Oh, yes, he advises preying on the emotions tied to the terrorist attacks to distract Americans from the truth about the economy, writing, “Much of the public anger can be immediately pacified if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation today if 9/11 had not happened.” It’s also an easy way to get President Bush off the hook: Luntz points out that convincing people that the struggling economy is a consequence of 9/11 (as opposed to, say, Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy) will convince people “it is unfair to blame the current political leadership”

Finally, Luntz advises, 9/11 is the perfect way to dodge responsibility for sinking the country in red ink. In a section headed “Without the context of 9-11, you will be blamed for the deficit,” he points out “supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility.” The best way to counter that fact? “The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9/11.”

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