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Forum Post: Republican Pollster: Words Can Kill Occupy Wall Street

Posted 7 years ago on Dec. 11, 2011, 9:32 p.m. EST by thomasthetank (41)
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Republican pollster: Words can kill Occupy Wall Street BY JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF Published 10:59 p.m., Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frank Luntz is a pollster, omnipresent on Fox News and at Republican retreats, who tests words, phrases and message themes for the "iron triangle" -- corporations, right-wing media and conservative image-makers -- who run the colossus that is American conservatism.

Luntz has now taken on the job of spin doctor for the 1 percent.

A master of defusing, defining and disinformation -- he lately strategized on how to block creation of the feds' new Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- Luntz is on top of his game.

Luntz was the guy who tested themes for New Gingrich's "Contract with America" in the 1990s. A decade later, he cannily told Fox to purge the phrase "public option" from its health care vocabulary and hammer at themes such as "government-run health care" and "government option."

He advised GOP insurgent Patrick Buchanan in his 1992 presidential run. In 2003, however, he was telling Congress' Republican rulers how to win "the environmental communications battle." The key steps were to excise the phrase "global warming" in favor of the milder "climate change" and "continue to make lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

And last week -- witnessed by Chris Moody of The Ticket -- Luntz delivered Orwellian advice on how to talk about Occupy Wall Street to the Republican Governors Association at a Florida retreat.

Why was this lesson necessary?The soon-to-be-evicted campers at Seattle Central Community College should take heart. "I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort, I'm frightened to death," said Luntz. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

The solution: Don't challenge society's inequities. Change the language of debate. Some tips:

Corporate bonuses: Americans of all stripes have voiced outrage at multi-million-dollar bonuses handed out to executives of the banks and financial institutions that were bailed out with taxpayer dollars deemed too big to fail.

Corporations should respond, argued Luntz, not by curtailing bonuses but by banning the word "bonus."

"If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you're going to make people angry. It's 'pay for performance.'"

Taxing the rich: The American public has never warmed to soaking the rich. Nowadays, however, there's the widespread belief that they should at least bathe regularly -- and contribute to keeping such measures as the payroll-tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits.

Enter Luntz. The Republicans should never talk about government "taxing the rich," but instead talk of "taking from the rich."

"If you talk about raising taxes on the rich," the public gives a thumbs up, said Luntz. But instead, "if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. 'Taxing,' the public will say yes."

Excise "capitalism": The word conjures executive jets, lavish retreats and long cigars -- ideal for the right in denouncing "labor bosses" but dangerous when it comes to defining captains of industry.

"I'm trying to get that word removed and we're replacing it with either 'economic freedom' or 'free market'," Luntz told GOP governors."The public ... still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we're seen as defenders of quote 'Wall Street' end quote, we've got a problem."

Pretend to sympathize: Luntz is no fan of Gingrich's bathe-and-get-a-job advice to the Occupy campers. He prefers the soft sell. "First off, here are three words for you: 'I get it,'" he told Republican governors.

"I 'get' that you're angry. I 'get' that you've seen inequality.I 'get' that you want to fix the system." After getting it, Luntz advised, talk Republican policy as a solution to the problem."

Replace "middle class": Democrats have made gains when they talk about those who work hard and play by the rules -- Wall Street is deficient on the latter count -- and in speaking about the "forgotten" middle class.

Luntz's solution is to send "middle class" -- the term -- packing. "They (Democrats) cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers," he told GOP governors. "We can say we defend the 'middle class' and the public will say, 'I'm not sure about that.' But defending 'hardworking taxpayers' and Republicans have an advantage."

"Compromise" is out: America has worked for 225 years, in large part, because regions and states and different groups have worked out (usually imperfectly) their differences. But "compromise" won't do in a polarized society, especially when you must manipuate the polarized.

"If you talk about 'compromise,' Luntz advised, "they'll say you're selling out. Your side doesn't want you to 'compromise.' What you use in that to replace it with is 'cooperation.' It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles and still get the job done."

The GOP pollster tweaks other words. "Entrepreneur," which implies wealth, should be replaced by "job creators" and "small business owners." Instead of talking about "jobs," the governors were told to use "careers."

One theme runs through everything that Luntz does: blame government.

Last year, in "The Language of Financial Reform," he urged taking attention away from hedge funds, derivatives, insider trading and bank bailouts. Instead, frame the issue as a battle against government bureaucrats.

"This is your critical advantage," he told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Washington's incompetence is the common ground on which you can build support."

He was back at it before Republican governors, who are, after all, appoint-and-boss bureaucrats in 29 states.

"It's not about 'government spending,' it's about 'waste,'" Luntz told them. "That's what makes people angry."

We can learn a lot from this guy, on how a relentless message machine can deceive a free society and manipulate ordinary people into acting against their own interests.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/connelly/article/Republican-pollster-Words-can-kill-Occupy-Wall-2346722.php#ixzz1gHecRajg

28 Comments

28 Comments


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[-] 4 points by BlueRose (1437) 7 years ago

Complaining about "Govt tyranny" is code for "let corporations exploit workers and environment with no regulation whatsoever".

[-] 4 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

The problem is the track record and as Zen says, we have environmental issues. This is huge. We have job issues this is huge. We have homeless issues. They 'get it', they have been 'getting it'. They just want to maintain the status quo. They have no intention of doing anything.

[-] 0 points by puff6962 (4052) 7 years ago

Yes. The Right has finally begun to flex it's muscles.....after hiding them in a sweater for the last thirty years.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

True that.

[-] 3 points by ronimacarroni (1089) 7 years ago

Oh great, now we can add doublespeak to the list.

[-] 2 points by TheTrollSlayer (347) from Kingsport, TN 7 years ago

The ole boy is truly a bullsh*t artist.

[-] 2 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

it occurred to me last night, that with their script, we can potentially frame the debate around an advertising campaign.

let me see if I can lay it out in a way that makes sense.

Say we can predict with utter certainty that: candidate

  • a) will talk about taxes -

  • cadidate a) will use terms like "hard working Americans"

we can design an advertising campaign that leads candidate a) to discuss taxes publicly using his preferred language.

Then we can respond with a second ad, one that asks specifically if that means no end to corporate loopholes.

You could, for example, get an elderly woman, call her grannie

We have a huge deficit problem and I'm worried about our future. My son is self employed and works really hard. He provides jobs. But if taxes go up he may have to lay some of them off. What will candidate a) do to solve our debt problem?

[the language would of course need tweeking to suit the age group she represents and the demographic she is speaking to]

Once the ad plays, candidate a) responds - and most likely does so not because of the ad, but because it has become a topic that candidate a) finds repeated in public - as it most naturally will simply because we've chosen a topic that is on people's minds already.

Once candidate a) does respond, using his prefered linguistic trick, then the second ad gets specific - asking:

  • repeat the candidates own words

  • translate those words to the effect that candidate a) will not support ending tax breaks for the wealthy or for corporations

  • hold up the book that provides the translations [last 3-6 weeks of campaign]

If there are between five and ten [less than ten] issues that are likely to play in this way, run through each one, one by one, during the run up to the election. Then during the last 3-6 weeks do a montage of all the candidates linguistic tricks, and that's when you bring out the book, Frank Luntz, and the idea that candidate a) has been lying.

Imagine your own grandmother, insisting with mild and gentle scorn that she's never heard of such nonsense. "Do we really need a translator to understand what he says?"

[-] 2 points by thomasthetank (41) 7 years ago

I've found only snippets of the raw video....

Can anyone get it all?

Video-overs of people out of work, loosing their homes, etc. while Luntz's words and sinister music frame the audio....

He doesn't look evil enough....but his words are pretty Orwellian. I think the commercials could also incorporate other politicians, namely those who have adopted his language word for word.

These sound snippets would echo him in the commercial and it would introduce the theme of Republicon propaganda.

A number of these could be produced and would highlight the nationwide program of diverting the people from real change.

[-] 2 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

I think something along these lines can be very effective.

I'm on dial-up, so the video is out for me.

[-] 1 points by thomasthetank (41) 7 years ago

ooph. i'm technically illiterate. the video is out for me as well.

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

doesn't that just suck?

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 7 years ago

Frank Luntz = Lee Atwater
I've heard it directly from Frank's barber - he has a 666 on his scalp
and Frank believes in global warming
as in - - -
he is bringing hell to earth

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

if that is true

if

he actually worships evil, and relishes the contemplation of the destruction of the earth - then he worships his own annihilation.

I think he should confront that possibility . . . .

I also think that - again - if it is true -

it could be documented, with his own voice, and incorporated into a national advertising campaign that will play in the red states.

first we have to know what he actually believes

then we have to determine how to hook his ego into revealing all that he believes and get it recorded.

then tie him to specific candidates, using his linguistic tricks, and tar the whole thing as the evil that it is.

[-] 1 points by thomasthetank (41) 7 years ago

I guess I don't watch enough Fox news.

OWS needs our boogeymen.....Norquist and this guy....Feel free to add your own.

Also, Eric Cantor....that guy is a goldmine.

[-] 1 points by BlueRose (1437) 7 years ago

I love the subject of this post, thank you! I am sure the spinsters read this site too, perhaps even participate, to see what kind of crap falls under OWS radar= Not much! The trolls get found out real quick!

[-] 0 points by puff6962 (4052) 7 years ago

OWS must, unfortunately, create it's own "spin" as well.....Language is a weapon and we risk being defined by the language of others if we are not clear in our own.

[-] 1 points by mserfas (652) from Ashland, PA 7 years ago

I'm not sure those changes will work out for them. "Pay for performance" sounds nicer, but it will certainly sound jarring when it is given out to executives of rapidly sinking companies. "Free market" sounds like a system where any Tom Dick and Harry is allowed to compete. Rhetoric about "job creators" has already backfired when big companies stockpile their profits and avoid hiring. From this story it sounds like Luntz has run out of effective ideas and now he's working his magic more on his employers than on us.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8719) 7 years ago

I think their lies are finally just running out of steam to some degree, as Americans increasingly have to confront the reality of what they've created. I saw a recent poll in Daily Koz which says that support for Occupy is rising. One nagging question in my mind is, where does the military stand with all of this? Because if more and more people come to our side, the threat of martial law rises.

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

I suggest making him a central issue in the campaign. Make his tactics part of the campaign.

Make his name an issue. Make his face an issue. He want's to talk careers? The middle class wants to talk about jobs. the term Careers is one way he gives himself away.

Any time a repelican uses one of these talking points - point at it. Hold it up, hold up its source, and tie it right back to global warming.

We all know it's here. We all know they lied. Demonstrate that. Make it part of the campaign.

Of course - a bit of demographic research is in order - to show that the issue of Global Warming will play in a given district - in some red states, perhaps most at the moment - it will not be a topic that will play very well.

But where a candidate opposing a repelican is aware already that they are not going to win, they can position the left in the future - by focusing on this issue, global warming. Even if it won't play in select areas now - it will. And when it does people will be pissed.

This entire set of tactics - use of language - can be the issue of national attack ads not endorsing any candidate - but tarnishing every single repelican as dishonest liars in service to greed.

Put his face on tv.

Put his words on tv.

Destroy the repelican party.

[-] 1 points by thomasthetank (41) 7 years ago

Yes, this type of rhetoric will be useful to draw a circle around the OWS movement.

I wish that I knew what this guy looked like. Ironically, OWS needs someone to be the posterchild for what the movement is about......AND I think that I have a winner.

Grover Norquist.

He is the perfect boogeyman....powerful, secret, funded by billionaires, and crappy on camera.

If this guy can be gradually worked on.....gradually uncovered.....and on camera making some very vitriolic remarks.....GOLDMINE.

[-] 1 points by ronimacarroni (1089) 7 years ago

They could just interview Kalle Lasn

He's too eccentric for mainstream America.

[-] 1 points by cmt (1195) from Tolland, CT 7 years ago

Yes, Norquist is an excellent symbol of the power of the 1%. Even people who are fairly conservative may be uncomfortable with that "pledge" of his and the hold it has on so many Senators and Representatives.

The taxing of the ultra rich to maintain services for the middle is popular with all political persuasions.

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

oo they will howl . . .

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

hey - can I get on the advertising committee? We'll focus on the easiest examples - like taxing the rich. With national advertising, individual candidates can choose whether to go with the theme or not. Build on it or not.

We can tailor it - given the demographic research - to fit the attitudes and beliefs of individual demographic sets.

This would be fun!

I could even get paid.

[-] 0 points by richardkentgates (3269) 7 years ago

This is why the commons. I will do another story on him this week. you should drop one on your blog as well. be sure to keyword him, his company, and affiliations in your post. with any luck he has alerts set up for his name and he will get the story dropped in his email.

[-] 1 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 7 years ago

oo, that's devious. I like it.

[-] 0 points by puff6962 (4052) 7 years ago

First Power, Then Change.

[-] 0 points by puff6962 (4052) 7 years ago

First Power, Then Change.