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17 posts from March 2007

March 23, 2007

Frameshop: Cancer and Character in American Politics

Watching Elizabeth and John Edwards talk about their battle against cancer, yesterday, filled me with an overwhelming sense of pride and admiration for this country.  More than at any time in recent memory, I felt I was seeing something that Teddy Roosevelt once spoke about so eloquently, but has since become a rare, even fleeting presence in American politics: high individual character as the "foundation stone" of national life.

But as I watched the responses to their press conference roll in, my pride was  eclipsed by concern--a lingering sense of dread about another cancer: the cynicism spread through the American body politic by the right-wing smear machine.

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March 21, 2007

Frameshop: The 5 Words Bush Wants Americans To Repeat

BUSH USED PRESS CONFERENCE TO FORCE PR BUZZWORDS INTO THE DEBATE
In a scripted moment of imperial bravado, President Bush held a press conference yesterday to address the scandal over his Attorney General having lied to Congress.  Why this sudden move?  In a word:  framing. 

Even more frightening to the Bush administration than being caught putting loyalty to leader above following the law, the Gonzales scandal has lured off the White House PR ranch and into a frame about administration corruption and deceit.

And so, as is par for this President's course whenever the White House is faced with a crisis, the goal of Bush's press appearance was not to inform the American public of any facts, but to force the White House's carefully scripted keywords into the debate--with the hope that journalists and Democrats would repeat them. 

So, they sent in the PR keyword "repeaterer" to get the job done.

The following is a list of the 5 keywords dropped by Bush, yesterday--keywords that Americans should repeat only if they want to help President Bush deceive the American public by luring the debate away from the important issue of honesty in government:

  1. resignation
  2. leadership
  3. explanation
  4. incomplete
  5. fishing

Continue reading "Frameshop: The 5 Words Bush Wants Americans To Repeat" »

March 20, 2007

Frameshop: "Hope" Springs Gonzales

WHITE HOUSE EXPRESSES "HOPE" FOR GONZALES, THEN LEAKS DETAILS OF JOB SEARCH
Like the somber ring of a death bell, yesterday, key members of the Bush administration repeated the same phrase when asked if Alberto Gonzales would resign in the wake of the current scandal:  "We hope so." 

For an White House that awards medals to administration loyalists whose mistakes cost thousands of lives, saying they "hope" Gonzales stays is tantamount to leaving the Attorney General alone in a cell with 8 feet of rope, a bottle of sleeping pills and an asp.  The question is no longer "if" Gonzales will fall,  but "when"--and, of course, "who" will take his place.

And like a well-oiled corpse cart, just hours after the White House rolled out the "We hope so" phrase, Republican news sources started to circulate rumors that the White House was searching for Gonzales' replacement--all the signs of a strategic leak to the press.

In other words, even as the White House was saying  that they "hope" Gonzales stays, administration leaks were describing Gonzales' resignation as a "virtual certainty."

Continue reading "Frameshop: "Hope" Springs Gonzales" »

March 16, 2007

Frameshop: Bush on the Ropes, 9/11 Suddenly on Front Pages

When the going gets tough, the White House pimps 9/11.

With Bush's administration on the ropes--attorneygate, plamegate, Iraq, etc.--suddenly, stories about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--who had been held in captivity since 2003--reappeared on the front pages of America's newspapers.

Like a PR magic cleaning cloth, the story of the "mastermind behind 9/11" wiped away the bad headlines about President Bush's attorney general and political arm-twisting of the Federal Attorney system.

Surprise, surprise.

Continue reading "Frameshop: Bush on the Ropes, 9/11 Suddenly on Front Pages" »

March 12, 2007

Frameshop: Cheney's Murder-Death-Kill Talk

Despite the timid coverage of Dick Cheney's recent speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2007 Policy Conference, America's violent-tongued Vice President gave a speech that all but accused the Democratic party of plotting to commit treason and kill American soldiers.  Somehow, the thinly-veiled threats and violent vocabulary of Cheney's horror-soaked speech was missed by CNN when it described the Vice President as "chiding" Democrats.

Reading through Cheney's speech--posted to the White House web site for any journalist to read a full 5 hours before the CNN article appeared on their web site--I was able to quickly pull together the following list of words and the number of times they were repeated, all of which evoke violence and all of which were used by the Vice President in the span of 27 short minutes:

war - 31
terror - 26
enemy - 12
attack - 7
battle - 7
kill - 6
destroy - 4
bomb - 3
weapons - 2
death - 2
murder - 2
violence - 2

In this speech--where CNN claims the VP was only "chiding" Democrats--our NC-17 VP repeated the words "war," "terror,""enemy," "murder," "death" and "kill" enough times to make Quentin Tarantino cover his ears and switch over to the Animal Planet.

For goodness sakes.  Cheney's speeches need a warning label: "**WARNING** The Vice President of the United States gives speeches peppered with violent vocabulary that may give you and your children nightmares for days."

Continue reading "Frameshop: Cheney's Murder-Death-Kill Talk" »

March 11, 2007

Frameshop: The Identity Voter

Despite its central place in the 2008 presidential election, identity politics has not really caught the attention of the big budget media. 

A simple glance at the current primary offerings reveals this oversight.  Even though the Republican Party has again produced a slate of white bread candidates, the Democratic Party has drawn up an incredibly diverse menu of presidential hopefuls--a field of primary contenders that reads almost like an annual report on workplace diversity.

Given all this multiculturalism in our midst, it is worth considering both the keywords and definitions Americans might use to make sense of it.

So, grab a pen and write down this definition on a Post-It® note and stick it to your laptop screen: 

"identity voter" - a person who chooses to support a political candidate primarily for the social and cultural aspects of the person (e.g., gender, race, geography, class, etc.), and only secondarily if at all for the policies of the politician.

Voting the social and cultural aspects of the person rather than their policies--this is the hallmark of the identity voter and if every there was an election cycle where this phenomenon will make a difference in election outcomes, 2008 is the one.

The reason for the rise of the identity voter could be very simple:  Voting is ultimately about choosing one candidate over another, and in an age where political consultants have become expert at blurring policy distinctions, identity could be the final frontier of clear choice for voters.

Continue reading "Frameshop: The Identity Voter " »

Frameshop: Democrats More Diverse than Republicans

This interesting page at the Washington Post gives a quick visual rundown of a key discrepancy between the current field of Democrats and the current field of Republicans competing for their party's respective 2008 nomination.

The Republicans are all men, all white, and seem to vary more by styles of coming their hair than by social or cultural identity.

The Democratic candidates, by contrast,  show diversity of race, gender, and region.  The bottom line:  Democrats are more  diverse than Republicans.

Surprised?  Probably not.  But this may mean a very different dynamic between the two fields--a more multicultural politics for Democrats.

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March 10, 2007

Frameshop: Giuliani and Violence in Pre-9/11 New York

With all the hype surrounding the myth of Rudy Giuliani as a hero of 9/11, few people remember the cloud of violence that shrouded the majority of his tenure as Mayor of New York City.

Almost from the start of his first term, and right up to the morning of September 11, 2001, Giuliani's reign was dominated by talk of his patriotism, but by troubling discussions of racial profiling, police shootings of unarmed black men, and abuses of power to justify anti-crime policies that seem to terrorize substantial portions of New York City's diverse population. 

Unfortunately, the violence in Giuliani's New York has been effectively hidden behind high-impact PR patriotism designed to sell Giuliani to American voters.

To recover the reality of violence and controversy that surrounded Giuliani as an elected official, we need only return to the media discussion that dominated the national airwaves just prior to 2001. 

Continue reading "Frameshop: Giuliani and Violence in Pre-9/11 New York" »

March 09, 2007

Frameshop: Bush's Troop Surge Getting Surgier

A story we mentioned a month ago (Frameshop: Bush's 20,000 "Surge" Likely 48,000) has finally made it to the mainstream media, albeit without as much detail:

The Bush plan called for sending 21,500 extra U.S. combat troops to Iraq mainly to Baghdad with the last of five brigades arriving by June. The estimated price tag was $5.6 billion. Officials have refused to say exactly how long it would last, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates had suggested that it could be over by fall.

In recent days a different picture has emerged.

The total number of troops required for the plan, while still uncertain, is climbing. When Bush announced the boost of 21,500 combat troops, the Pentagon said still others would be required to go with them in support roles. Its initial estimate of 2,400 support troops has doubled and may go higher still.

Well, we all know the big budget news has been busy with all their Britney Spears reporting, but it sure is nice to see them catching up.

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Frameshop: Confess Infidelity, Win Votes

If you are a Republican Presidential candidate who once (or even twice) cheated on your wife, that personal shortcoming is more likely to help than harm your political chances in 2008. 

While it may seem counterintuitive to many progressives, a past bout with marital infidelity is actually an opportunity for the right-winger and not the albatross that many believe it to be.  As the scramble for the 2008 Republican nomination unfolds, one strategy emerging involves confessions of being unfaithful to woo Evangelical voters.

Cynical?  Absolutely. But smart, too.

Continue reading "Frameshop: Confess Infidelity, Win Votes " »