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25 posts from January 2005

January 30, 2005

Frameshop: The Path

STRATEGY - To be more effective in political debate, understand the tactics that the Bush White House uses.

TODAY'S "BUSH TACTIC" - The "Path" Metaphor

HOW IT WORKS - Bush starts with a policy that he knows violates public trust or has no popular support (e.g., invading Iraq, killing Social Security). Bush deceives the public into supporting the policy by making up something good or bad that you say will happen "down the path" (e.g., war:democracy in Iraq, patriot act:nuclear attacks in cities, end Social Security:bankruptcy). Anyone who disagrees, accuse them of not having the "courage" or "vision" to "confront" or "believe in" what's "up ahead."

ozWHY IT IS EFFECTIVE - Bush uses the path metaphor to link the real present to a made-up future. Radical, destructive policies are only a problem if the public thinks about them in terms of actual events. But if the public thinks about them in terms of the Bush imaginary future, they're not so radical. Change Social Security? Better to change it now than have bankruptcy up ahead. American soldiers dying in Iraq everyday? Better that they die now than the whole world is taken over by terrorists down the road. Torture our prisoners? Better to torture them now than stay on the path towards a nuclear bomb exploding in Dallas.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT - (1) Set people on the real path. Displace Bush's made-up future with actual consequences of the present course. (2) Recast the issues through metaphors that evoke American values (e.g. unity and strength as standing together).

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Frameshop: A Free Iraq

ALERT – The Bush White House is using the following phrase to describe developments in the Middle East:

a free Iraq

Do not use this phrase.

iraqANALYSIS - This is an example of Neo-Con “magic words” that have been purchased by the Bush White House for millions of dollars from private PR firms, and which they intend to repeat over and over again to distract Americans from the Vietnam-style war in Iraq. The logic of their argument is that “free elections” are a “step” towards turning a “free Iraq” into a “democratic Iraq.” These are noble ideas, but Iraq is a country occupied by the United States military and engulfed in a brutal guerilla war with no foreseeable end.

RESPONSE - Americans believe that nations are strongest when people stand together. Photographs depicting Iraqi citizens in line waiting to vote were signs of unity and strength for that nation. But Americans also believe that a country deemed so dangerous that international observers declined to participate in the election is not a free country, but a country at war. Americans believe that peace is built by joining hands, not by laying razor wire. Iraq is not “free” just because President Bush and his cabinet repeat their “magic words” over and over again. Iraq will be free when American soldiers have withdrawn from Iraq, and when Iraqis and their friends can walk the streets without being killed.

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Frameshop: Magic Words

PROBLEM - The Bush White House controls debate by repeating "magic words" that push Neo-Con frames and ideas. Unless Americans can spot these "magic words" are, it is hard to avoid repeating them.

STRATEGY - Learn how to spot Neo-con "magic words."

TODAY'S "BUSH TACTIC" - Launch Magic Words Before Bush Speaks

HOW IT WORKS - Most people assume that Neo-Con PR campaigns begin with the "talking points" presented in a speech by the President. Not true. Before Bush speaks, the White House always, always circulates "magic words" to media outlets and Bush followers. In a coordinated launch, members of the Bush inner circle then use these "magic words" in multiple media interviews. When the President finally speaks, his followers hear the "magic words" and repeat, repeat, repeat. As the sound of these "magic words" grows, the rest of the public begins repeating these words, too.

WHY IT IS EFFECTIVE - The repetition of the "magic" words begins long before the official public launch of the ideas. The "magic words" are already familiar when Bush says them for the first time.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT - (1) Anticipate that all Bush White House policies are launched with "magic words." (2) Read multiple news sources looking for repetition of problem words and phrases. (3) Redefine the"magic words" before the President speaks them.

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January 28, 2005

Frameshop: PC

CALL TO ACTION - The following phrase is often used by Republicans to turn the public against Progressives and to control political debate:

politically correct (PC)

Take control of this phrase by understanding how it works and redefining it in Progressive terms.

burnKEY - Neo-Cons use "PC" to cast Progressives as a sinister "movement" leading America down the path to totalitarianism. When they say "PC movement" it reminds Americans of other dangerous movements (e.g. Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Terrorism, etc.). This leads people to respond with the thought that "PC" must be stopped, is dangerous. This is deceptive because it masks the real problem: Republicans using PC as a rallying cry for the censorship and intimidation of teachers.

SOLUTION - Think big. Hit first: (1) State a list defining "PC" in Progressive terms: "Yes I'm PC! I stand for Protecting the Constitution, Positive Change, Preventing Crime, Providing for Children, Pro Choice, Pro Community..." (2) Re-Focus "PC" so that it labels Republicans as they are acting right now: Puritan Crusaders, President's Cult.

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January 27, 2005

Frameshop: You survived terror

ALERT - Today, Vice President Cheney used the Holocaust to justify the War in Iraq.

In the first of a series of speeches delivered in Poland, the Vice President commemorated the liberation of Auschwitz by saying this to Jewish Holocaust survivors:

You survived terror

Do not repeat the Vice President's words.

Americans stand with Holocaust survivors in protecting the memory of those horrible events. Americans are united in their belief that the Holocaust was a brutal and horrible tragedy waged by the Nazis against innocent Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and many others. But Americans also believe that the Holocaust has nothing to do with the War in Iraq or the efforts to protect us from violent attacks.

cheneyBy turning a Holocaust ceremony into a PR stunt for the quagmire in Iraq, Vice President Cheney and President Bush have trampled on the memory of those who suffered in Auschwitz, they have slapped in the face all those Iraqis and Americans suffering in the war, and they have shamed the American people.

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January 26, 2005

Frameshop: Handshake

ALERT - The Bush White House has used these phrases recently to describe their foreign policy agenda:

spread freedom : expansion of freedom

Do not use these phrases.

REMEMBER - Americans believe that we lead the world with our handshake, not our Humvees. Americans believe that unity is strength, and that Americans are safest when the people of all nations stand together. Unfortunately, President Bush thinks people are "safer" when he uses our soldiers to force his policies on the men, women and children of the world.

QUICK CHANGE - To promote a positive vision of American leadership in the world use this phrase:

Americans lead with a handshake, not a Humvee

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January 21, 2005

Frameshop: gun to the head

ALERT - In her televised remarks to congress, Secretary Rice repeated the word "freedom" 38 times.  In his inaugural speech, President Bush repeated "freedom" 25 times.  The Bush White House is using the word "freedom" to conceal their plan to use our military to threaten, attack, and occupy foreign countries.  If Progressives repeat the word  "freedom" while the Bush White House is launching their plan, we risk inadvertently helping them fool the public.

STOP - For now, hold off on using the word "freedom" in political debate.

START - Start drawing attention to Bush's actions: "Bush uses our military to threaten the world."

America is strongest when we all stand together.  Americans believe that the world is safest when citizens of all nations stand together to end fear and war.  Unfortunately, President Bush believes that fear and war should be used to force other nations to stand alone. 

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January 20, 2005

Frameshop: Poverty

ALERT - In his obsession with terror and violence, George W. Bush never uses this word:


Repeat this word as often as possible in political debate.

America is strongest when all Americans stand together, and weakest when we are forced to stand alone. The poverty of some weakens us all, forcing Americans to face the future with uncertainty and fear. Nonetheless, George. W. Bush believes government should not reach out to those who stand alone, that America is strongest when we wage war against poor countries abroad and force the poor to fend for themselves at home. He believes that immorality and laziness cause poverty, and that religion and hard work will end it.

QUICK CHANGE - To reinforce a positive vision of an America that stands together and believes that government can help end poverty, repeat these phrases:

  • Poverty weakens all Americans
  • Poverty threatens America's future
  • Government must stand up against poverty at home and abroad

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January 19, 2005

Frameshop: Iraq War

ALERT - In an effort to deceive the American public about the realities we face as a nation, the following phrase is not being used by the Bush White House to describe or foreign policy:

Iraq War

Please use this phrase that the Bush White House is trying to silence.

Americans believe that the world is at peace and secure when all people in all nations stand together, and it is threatened by war and dangerous when nations and citizens are forced to stand alone. America leads the world by example--at home and abroad--by extending a hand to those who stand and strive for liberty, because we believe that liberty is the foundation of democracy. Unfortunately, there are forces in the world today, both religious and secular, who use violence to divide the world and to advance a corrosive vision of a world without liberty. Rather than making the world more secure in the face of these threats, the Bush White House has made the world more dangerous by denying civil liberties at home and abroad, by standing alone rather than bringing our allies into the room, and by using our military to force other nations to accept America's will.

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January 17, 2005

Frameshop: war on terror

[In memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)]

ALERT – Since the tragedy of September 11, the Bush White House has used the following phrase—causing Americans to suspect their neighbors, dividing us against each other, and spreading fear about the future:

war on terror

Do not use this phrase.

America is strongest when we all stand together and weakest when we are forced to stand alone. The challenge America faces is the struggle to stand together in the wake of tragedy. America leads the world through the belief that standing together is the key to strength and security. There will always be forces that use tragedy and the threat of tragedy to separate Americans. Unfortunately, the Bush White House has used national tragedy to promote a culture of fear, suspicion and isolation, weakening this country and undermining our national security.

QUICK CHANGE – To stop reinforcing the culture of fear promoted by the Bush White House, make these changes to the words you use:

  1. Tragedy instead of "terror"
  2. Struggle instead of "war"
  3. Standing Together instead of "acting alone"

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