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View Diary: Book Review: George Lakoff's "Whose Freedom?" (185 comments)

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  •  Oh God, We're Approaching Essay-Land Aren't We??? (1+ / 0-)
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    denise b
    Well, unfortunately, I don't have time to go there.  But I can give the Cliff Notes response:

    (1) The great mass of people do not, never have and almost certainly never will make political decisions based on significant amounts of facts, much less vast amounts of them.  Fortunately, to function well, a representative democracy doesn't reguire that they do.   But it does require some sort of rough isomorphism between what they know and desire on the one hand, and what is true and possible in the world, on the other hand.  Aggregating vast amounts of data to make such rough isomorphisms possible is just one of the things that framining makes possible.

    (2) Understanding that Saddam Hussein is/was not Hitler is an example of such a rough isomorphism. So is understanding that John Kerry was a war hero, and George Bush was a deserter.

    Battling over frames is not the same thing as battling over facts.  "Saddam = Hitler" was such a ludicrous frame that arguing against it with facts actually made it seem more serious and plausible than it actually was.   A better way would have been ridicule.  Something along the lines of "Look, just because Saddam and Hitler both had mustaches, that doesn't make them the same.  Groucho Marx had a mustache, too."

    Likewise, for some reason I'll never understand, John Kerry didn't realize that how he failed to respond to the Swift Boat Liars attack on him was a frame that people used in judging how he would respond to an attack on America if he was President.  That's why he lost the election. He showed people he was a wimp.  (Of course Bush running away from Cindy Sheehan was even wimpier.  But that happened after the election, and Bush hasn't been above 45% or so since then.)

    (3) The facts were on Webb's side.  The CIA's internal investigation backed him up.  But the NYT/LAT/WaPo were outraged at him upstaging them.  They didn't have the facts, but they had the clout to frame him as some sort of Jeff Gerth or Judy Miller or something.  This was the common sense of the journalistic community, and Webb's editors bought into it so heavily that they refused to see what was right before their eyes.  That's how framing works.  It's not just some abstract process.  It's embedded in our bodies and our social relations.  One would hope that such outside pressures would not have such strong impacts on professional editors.  But after the last 6 years, one would have to be delusional to deny that this hope is generally in vain.

    Bottom line: More facts would not have helped Webb.  But a different frame might have.  Had they been more afraid of being tarred as "chicken," then they might have been motivated to actually assimilate the facts that were already in front of them.

    (4) I wasn't accusing you of spouting rightwing talking points.  I just thought it was extremely odd that you ended up arguing something whose only parallel (and that's all I was claiming it was) comes from the dittohead choir.  (I think it's dubious that even drug-addled Rush believes this particular line.)

    (5) The great shift came after the 1988 election, when Bush Sr. ran against Dukakis, saying "liberal" like it was a swear word, and Dukakis inanely babbled on that the election was about "competance, not ideology"--thereby demonstrating a level of incompetence that defied parody.  That's the point at which the Democratic Party collectively stepped back from defending liberalism.  Even before then, moderate Republicans would defend conservative Republicans, and conservatism itself if it were attacked.  But Democrats would not do that same.  Before 1988, it was just the business and Scoop Jackson wing that were like that. But after Dukakis, it became significantly more widespread.  That's how we ended up with two Rockefeller Republicans (Clinton and Tsongas) as the frontrunners early in the 1992 primary race.

    From that time on, Democrats have repeatedly been willing to move right whenever attacked, much more readily than they did before.  It's been habitual for so long that many people can't even recall what it was like before they started doing it.  Thus, what I'm talking about is not some great event that happened all at once in the past. (For some reason, I've got the totally inappropriate analogy of the Great Vowel Shift lodged in my head.)  Rather, two things happened--there was a decision to stop defending liberalism, and then, following from that ever since, there has been an ongoing willingness to move to the right almost reflexively when challenged, even when the vast majority of Americans are clearly on our side.  (28 percent???)

    Yeah. That was the short version.

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