Sunday, February 27, 2005

I Love to Hate Spin.



I was cruising around on the GOP and DNC websites tonight and found something interesting. Republican pollster Frank Luntz has made a handbook for 2006 GOP congressional hopefuls. This mini manifesto coaches Republican candidates on what to say and how to say it. Suprisingly, Luntz's guide has appeared on the internet. On page 4 of the section entitled: "Growth, Prosperity & Restoring Economic Security," Luntz tells GOP candidates to keep 9/11 in perspective when discussing the economy:

"September 11th changed everything. So start with 9/11. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have $500 billion dollar deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6% and why we are still in rebuilding mode. 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, and that it is unfair to blame the current political leadership or corporate America for the consequences of that day."

"Without the context of 9/11, you will be blamed for the deficit. The deficit is a touchy subject for both Republicans and Democrats -- your supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility, and Democrats see nothing but hypocrisy. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, which Republicans sometimes do, but not early enough in the answer."

The DNC seems to think such language is appalling. I'm not so sure I agree. Yes, I lean heavily to the left. Yes, I think it sucks to use 9/11 to justify bad policy. I also believe, however, that 9/11 did hurt our economy and I think there exists Republicans that believe that 9/11 and Iraq are somehow connected. Still, I think that some of Luntz's suggestions troubling: "It's tempting to counterattack using facts and figures. Resist the temptation."

In any case, I found the Luntz handbook to be a fascinating look at the world of spin. Anyone interested in how campaign messages are forged should give this document a close look. Get it here. (Note, this is a zip file.)

6 Comments:

Blogger thc said...

Did the handbook wind up on the internet intentionally?

I read The Making of the President, both 1968 and 1972 versions when I was in college. The marketing strategies of elections is fascinating.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Allegedly it was leaked onto the internet. I don't really see anything damning about it per se. I'll take a look at The Making... Thanks for the suggestion thc!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was probably leaked on to throw thed democrates of their goal of developing a new plan and message. Keep them on the defensive.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

I don't know about that. Don't you think it gives puts democrats on the offensive? In addition, it seems like bad policy to let your competitor take a look at your strategy.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only if it is real.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

I'd be very surprised if the DNC provided a link to a falsified document. Yes, it's possible that it's false. We haven't heard a peep from the Republican party that it isn't real, though...

9:01 PM  

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