Monday, June 04, 2007

Preview on the Republican Candidates' Debate Tomorrow Night

Few Variations on their Theme of Terror: Then & Now

I want to offer up a couple of references to serve as a preview of the Republicans' debate tomorrow night at St. Anselm College, featuring 10 of their top presidential contenders. I don't expect it is going to provide a very complex discussion of the myriad problems that face this country. Instead, I'll go out on a limb and predict that all of these issues will continue to be seen and addressed through the GOP's standard 9-11 lens.

I recall that GOP strategist/pollster Frank Luntz compiled a loose-leaf notebook after the 2004 re-election of George Bush as sort of a post-mortem "lessons learned" going forward to 2006. Needless to say, this publication was not intended for general circulation, which makes it all the more interesting.

"Key Finding 4" (of 5) for Luntz reads as follows (Underscoring was in the original):
September 11th changed everything. So start with 9/11.This is the context which 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 a 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 some times do, but not early enough in the answer.
"Answer" applies to prescribed directions as to how Republicans are to respond to questions or compose attacks.

That was then (2005). This is now (2007).

Dennis Milligan, owner of a water treatment company, was elected chairman of the Arkansas State Republican Party two weeks ago. In his first interview, Milligan told a reporter from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that America needs to be attacked by terrorists so that people will appreciate the work that President Bush has done to protect the country:
At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on Sept. 11, 2001 and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.
Not surprisingly, Milligan says he is “150 percent” behind Bush in the occupation in Iraq.

Al Gore speaks eloquently of his exasperation at how the Bush administration has been able to pose continually and convincingly as hard and tough on terrorism when it was on their negligent watch that Americans sustained the most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor. It's not that complicated: the industry of fear-mongering is not rocket science and it has been around for a long time.

If an owner of a water treatment company has been able to put it together, the main street (public works!) media should be able to take it apart.