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Sean Parnell Attends a Class in Propaganda 101

~Frank Luntz, GOP Minister of Propaganda

 

 

By Shannyn Moore

While most Alaskans were suffering through another cold, dark week, Gov. Sean Parnell was hard at work — on another junket, this time to the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Florida. Odd — no palm tree beach shots on the state website.

In fact, no official mention of the trip at all — just one picture on his Facebook page saying the governor participated in a “panel discussion on energy issues.”

One of the presenters at the governors’ conference was Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist whose specialty is “testing language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate.”

In other words, if you’re a politician whose policies benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of the middle class, Mr. Luntz will help you choose words to convince the masses to vote against their own best interests and vote for you.

Luntz is so good that he was awarded the 2010 PolitiFact Lie of the Year honor for his promotion of the phrase “government takeover” to refer to health care reform, starting in the spring of 2009.

The reports of Luntz’s coaching session for the Republican governors about how to speak to us are fascinating. And chilling.

Luntz acknowledged that the general public does not agree that Republicans defend the “middle class.” So how do Republicans convince the masses that tax cuts for them are bad, but tax cuts for millionaires are good? Piece of cake, as it turns out.

According to Luntz, “If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” people like that. But, “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking (millionaire) Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”

Apparently you just have to change a few words and millionaires will maintain or even gain massive new tax breaks while average Americans feed their families Top Ramen. Again.

How do you convince working Americans that government investments in education, roads, bridges, Social Security and Medicare are bad, even though they benefit from them? Quite simple, according to Luntz: “It’s not about ‘government spending.’ It’s about ‘waste.’ That’s what makes people angry.” Tweak a word or two and Grandma will support having her Medicare and Social Security cut while Republicans blast Obama for government waste.

How do you justify the Republican-imposed partisan gridlock that has led to an all-time low public opinion of Congress? Luntz has an answer for that too: “Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’ If you talk about ‘compromise,’ they’ll say you’re selling out. Your side doesn’t want you to ‘compromise.’ ”

Luntz discussed how to frame the growing Occupy Movement as well: “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism, so we’re replacing (capitalism) with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market.’ The public … still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of ‘Wall Street,’ we’ve got a problem.”

What to say about the Occupiers? Three words. I suspect that jaws dropped when Luntz did not suggest, “take a bath” or “get a job,” as Newt Gingrich did. No, you have to be a little more cunning when dealing with the average American voter.

According to Luntz, “First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ … ‘I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.” Then, Luntz instructed the would-be Republican puppet masters, pivot to the same-as-always Republican solutions. Tax breaks for millionaires. And corporations.

Of course, no Republican strategy session on dealing with the grimy masses would be complete without blaming Washington. It’s always Washington’s fault. Tell them, he said, “You shouldn’t be occupying Wall Street, you should be occupying Washington.”

But how to deal with those multimillion-dollar bonuses that Wall Street will be doling out come Christmas time while middle-class America struggles to pay the heating bill? This is a problem. Or, perhaps not. According to Luntz, strike “bonus” from your vocabulary. “If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s ‘pay for performance.’ ”

Choose your words carefully. Replace “jobs” with “careers,” “entrepreneurs” with “job creators,” and “middle class” with “hardworking taxpayers.”

We should all sleep easier knowing that we paid for Gov. Parnell to learn the art of political propaganda.

He doesn’t really want to lower taxes on the most profitable oil companies in the history of civilization. He wants to keep government from taking money from hard-working, job-creating Alaskans. He doesn’t want to cut health care for children and pregnant women. He wants to cut government waste.

And, by the way, he gets it. He gets that we pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the U.S. He gets that we have some of the highest home-heating costs in the nation. He gets that children are homeless and go to bed hungry.

And he has a solution: tax breaks for oil companies.

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Comments
13 Responses to “Sean Parnell Attends a Class in Propaganda 101”
  1. Moose Pucky says:

    So Occupy Wall Street has made “capitalism” a word to be avoided. Well, that’s a bit of progress, eh?

    Maybe we can all use the same talking points–and add a few of our own. Like “Everyone should pay their fair share.” And “For corporations to do well and for jobs to be created, the 99% need to have some money to spend.” And, “Poverty benefits no one and costs us all.”

    • I See Villages From My House says:

      Moose Pucky, you are right, we did make progress on that end.

      And the “Protestor” being named Man of the Year is another marker that change is coming.

  2. Lacy Lady says:

    Think it is time to put Reagan to rest! As for the meeting in Florida—–they have a Dandy for a Gov. He has hit Florida with a buzz saw! Don’t know how many more things he can do to destroy the State.

  3. Mo says:

    A nice essay on lies, and a reminder why it’s now immoral to vote Republican:

    http://www.politicususa.com/en/gop-libertarian-lies

    Republicans are still enamored with Reagan and his mantra that government is evil and interferes with people’s lives and ability to prosper. They have taken that mantra and coupled it with libertarian ideology and the result is that America is creeping toward a privately-owned and operated government ruled by people like the Koch brothers. If Americans really want to live in a country controlled by wealthy dictators without rules and regulations, they should move to Somalia and see what the results of drowning the government and selling the remnants to the highest bidder produces. Otherwise, they should be happy to live in a country with rules, regulations, and laws that protect Americans from unscrupulous businesses. Republicans and libertarians are driven to destroy the government, and until they can drown and sell it to a corporation, they will not stop complaining about being forced to follow rules and regulations that protect the people

  4. beth says:

    How lucrative, do you suppose, is Luntz’ feeding talking points into the mouths of the GOTP? I bet he’s laughing –big time!– all the way to the bank that the pea-brained fools even need his services…

    (Or, to put it into something a bit closer to his talk: With no handouts from the government and with no over-reaching government regulations and mandates, Mr. Luntz has taken his skills and has made a success of himself in the free market; his own hard work makes him an invaluable member of society and our society will compensate him accordingly.)

    “““““`
    I’ve seen Luntz on both The Daily Show and on The Colbert Report — he seems like a very personable and likeable man. It truly fascinates me to watch him smith words with such ease and grace — I’m in awe, absolute awe. Gadzooks, what a huge talent the man has! [Yes, I’m envious…greatly envious!]

    “““““`
    So, let’s see… the GOTP has Grover Norquist telling them what to do about taxes, a half-dozen or so Focus on the Family-types telling them what to do on social issues, and Luntz telling them how to sell all of it. All they have left to do is to pick and nominate a least-clown presidential candidate for 2012 — yuppers, I’m throughly enjoying watching their contortions as they sort through the current crop of would-be contenders to find someone to pit against Obama. beth.

    • fromthediagonal says:

      beth: Luntz’ work is extremely profitable, both for his ego and his purse.
      Read up on Joseph Goebbels, Reichsminister of Propaganda. His educational background is interesting and frighteningly familiar. I shall leave it there…

  5. UgaVic says:

    No offense to the ‘regular’ or ‘average’ voter but this does not give me much hope for the future.

    So much of this sounds to me like the type of wording or ‘talk’ that happened pre WWII in Europe. They did not have people who held workshops but there were coaching sessions and ‘kitchen table’; talk that spread ‘the word’

    • fromthediagonal says:

      Every time I see/hear those talking points tried out on the so-called Focus Groups, it makes me think of “Gleichschaltung”, “Synchronization” of the message the NAZI Party wanted the populace to hear. It has been used successfully by aspiring dictators and authoritarians of all sorts ever since the early thirties.

      The reason Gleichschaltung works? The low-information voters of today are really no different from those eighty years ago. But now it is by their own choice! They willingly remain in lock-step with those who will suppress them. They do not look beyond the propaganda, because they have been indoctrinated from the beginning into the fear factor that stifles questioning.

      I fervently hope that more of the new generation will question “Those Who Rule”.
      Occupy members have my admiration!

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    Egads, Shannyn!
    I’ve had my head in the winter snow to have missed this twit on the horizon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz

    Thank you for introducing him. I abhor his chosen profession as much as his ideology.
    Wordsmithing is a venerable art.
    Propaganda making, with focus groups to test the crap out on too?!, is a nasty, nasty craft which drags down real discourse and action.
    Yarg

    • leenie17 says:

      I’ve seen him on TV a few times and, as much as I have to admit he’s amazingly skilled at what he does, I always feel the need to shower after watching him!

      I seem to remember, as a child, being taught that lying is wrong. Here’s a man who, I’m sure, has amassed an enormous amount of wealth and power by doing exactly that, albeit extremely well.

      Just seems icky to me!

  7. Jag27 says:

    Buzz words! Just love those talking points! Not.

  8. I See Villages From My House says:

    I have learned to loathe talking points, especially since a few has worn so thin in the three years since we all got a copy of the bullet points designed to pump up the qualifications of a certain freshman Governor not even close to approaching the middle of serving her first term.

    — No one is better suited to deal with the largest issue on voters minds: energy.

    — Being from Alaska, Sarah Palin understands how best to provide energy independence to the country.

    — She knows the energy potential in Alaska and will work to make sure Alaska resources will fuel the country.

    How is ACES and AGIA doing by the way? Has Sarah progressed these issues as an unshackled citizen without a lame duck title?

    Frankly, these partisan junkets are the norm for any elected official. While it doesn’t make it okay, what I have more of a problem with when it comes to Captain Zero, is the way he wears his faith on his sleeve when it comes to administering policies and services to his diverse citizenry.

    I find it off-putting and insulting when he openly prays with his preferred Christian citizens over discussing policy or substance with his secular voters.

  9. Millie says:

    Was this guy also responsible for the Republican candidates in the primary using the word ‘appeasement’? The Republicans fall in line very, very quickly w/their rhetoric. Voters need to pay attention to what is going on and get to the polls this next election and vote as many Republicans out of office as possible on the national, state and local levels.

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