January 22, 2007

Frank Luntz on Bipartisanship

Frank Luntz writes at the Huffington Post to explain why Democrats should embrace constructive bipartisanship:

I am not in the habit of offering partisan linguistic advice to Democrats. But in the genuine spirit of bipartisanship - seriously - I thought this is the perfect time to convey a simple point to the still-euphoric faces of Democrat activists ...

Don't twist the knife.

... Democracy is at its best when its practioners use language to unite and explain rather than divide and attack. The blogs from the Left and the Right be damned, the real center of America is upset but not bitter, anxious but not fearful, restless but not unforgiving.

... The message from the electorate in November was 'work together and compromise.' ...

Do we need to read much farther? From this guy?

... Over the years, Luntz's contributions to framing the political debate make for a healthy Greatest Hits package: Before the 1994 Republican "Revolution," he helped Newt Gingrich craft the GOP's "Contract with America"; in 1997, he distributed a report entitled "The Language of the 21st Century," which he maintained was his "most serious effort to put together an effective, comprehensive national communications strategy"; during MonicaGate he encouraged Republicans to exploit Bill Clinton's sexual dalliances; in 2002, Luntz wrote an extensive memo advising the GOP to soften their linguistic approach to discussing environmental issues; and a June 2004 memo entitled "Communicating the Principles of Prevention & Protection in the War on Terror" offered Republicans the sound-bites for connecting the war on terror to the war on Iraq. ...

From the guy who brought us the Mediscare:

... Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, circulated an eight-page private memo among House Republicans entitled "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Communicating Medicare." Luntz warned Republicans that senior citizens would never accept changes in Medicare until they "were convinced the system's going broke." He added, "If we can't prove that Medicare is going bankrupt, we'll never be able to sell our solutions...." Go on the attack, he advised the new Republican House. Accuse Democrats of '"using 'scare tactics' by allowing a program to go broke...just to score political points." ...

This is Luntz' bipartisanship in action during the 2000 presidential race:

The post-debate extravaganzas were very damaging to the Gore campaign. In one memorable case, Republican operative Frank Luntz (not identified as such) conducted a “focus group” discussion of the just-completed debate. Up front, he asked the group which candidate came across as more “likeable.” When they voted for Bush, Luntz proclaimed Bush the “winner” of the debate.

A member of that group, Lisa Ramsey, later blew the whistle on Frank Luntz’ con:

I was part of Frank Luntz' "focus group" that pitted ten Republicans against ten Democrats.

We were told to come to a hotel in West Palm Beach an hour before the show. Upon arrival, we were checked off a list and segregated by party. I was close enough to the Republicans to see a man passing out "talking points" to his fellow panelists -- telling them that it would be great if they could incorporate them into whatever they said -- and to make it sound personal.

So yeah, thanks, Frank. Thank you for playing. Try again next time, maybe when we're asleep. This year's crop of Democrats have already discovered that they have plenty enough bipartisanship on their side.

Posted by natasha at January 22, 2007 05:49 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Great post!
(got here via Orcinus)
did not get through all 6 pages (!) of comments on Huffington, but was very glad to see Luntz thoroughly getting his ass kicked.

I'm w/ you... all this crying for Dems. to be "bipartisan" after the past few years is pure BS.

Posted by: dusty59 at January 22, 2007 01:52 PM

Quite frankly, though I like to think that I would entertain any and all opinions with due respect, after the shameful way the Republican party took the truth out back and had their way with its every oriface for the last 12 years, they can sit the f*$k down and shut the f*^k up, because they changed the rules of the game to fit their little hissy-fit world, and now they're going to see what happens when SMART people play it instead of troglodytes and if we're in a good mood, we might let them have a little popcorn.

Posted by: Neimon at January 22, 2007 02:36 PM

Neiman, You display the mentallity of an ape. All hostility with a big mouth. Is F..k the only influencial word you know? When your prehistoric brain gets blown away by a terrorist maybe you will see that being liberal was all wrong....

Posted by: LAMaddog at January 22, 2007 09:10 PM

When was the last time an american civilian died of terrorist-inflicted gunshot wounds?

the fact is, there's no reason to be afraid of terrorists unless you're a conservative, in which case it is apparently your ideological responcibility to shit yourself in fear.

Posted by: d.scourge at January 23, 2007 07:40 AM

Terrific post.

I will be posting for my Sunday book feature a response to Luntz's "oeuvre" which I have renamed "Words that do your dirty work".

See you then, I hope. I will be linking this.

Posted by: ohdave at January 25, 2007 05:00 PM

For the first time in my life, I voted a straight Democratic ticket last November. I did not do it because I wanted the Democrats to "work with" the Republicans, I did it because I wanted the democrats to STOP the Republicans. And I am contacting MY representatives to make sure they understand that.

Posted by: Smgumby at January 26, 2007 08:53 AM