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(From the diaries -- kos)

The secret to succeeding on Fox or any other hostile "interview" environment is to have one simple main point you want to make and keep making it no matter what the question is.

From The Art of War: "Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy." No matter what intro question you are asked, give the pithy (shorter than 10 seconds long) and simple answer that expresses your main point. Don't even worry about whether it sounds like a non sequitur. Rs do this all the time. This is an easy tactic to copy.

Keep repeating your main point until you have had a chance to say it in its entirety at least three times. Rephrase slightly if you have to so it is not as obvious that you are repeating yourself:

  • These personal risk accounts proposed by the Republicans endanger the future financial security of workers in their 30s.

  • Workers in their 20s and 30s should not gamble their future on these Republican-sponsored personal risk accounts.

  • Younger workers want a system of guaranteed benefits, they will not take a chance on these personal risk accounts the Republicans are pushing on everyone.

If there's any time left after you get your main point and your framing phrase ("personal risk accounts") in three times, go to one of your subpoints and do the same thing until time is up.

When constructing your ten second responses:

  • the verb is the most memorable part of the statement. make it a word that the average middle school student would know.

  • speak in active verbs rather than passive constructions that require more mental processing.

  • whenever possible say what we are for rather than what we are against.

  • when that is not possible, state what the Republicans are for, using verbs with negative connotations (this comes straight from the Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo: Language: A Key Mechanism of Control. Memorize that document. It contains a wealth of information).

The key to "surviving the Fox hunt" is to stop pretending it's a fair fight or a fight by reality-based rules. It's not an actual interview or a real conversation--the questions don't deserve to be answered. If you choose to be responsive rather than proactive you have lost before you open your mouth because you have decided to let the Rs frame the agenda with loaded questions. Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy.

When the host notices you are not answering his question (and he will, because his question was designed to trap you and he will notice that you sidestepped the trap) and draws the audience's attention to the fact that you have not answered the question, that's all to the good, because that also encourages the audience to pay very close attention to whatever you say next:

Sean: Just answer my question: why haven't the Democrats offered any alternatives to the President's social security plan?

[now everyone is listening even more closely to decide for themselves whether your answer is responsive or not.  But you still only get ten seconds...]

TBM: That is my answer, Sean: Democrats are offering the guaranteed benefits of the present system, not the gamble of personal risk accounts.

If they cut you off before the ten seconds are up:

  • finish saying your prepared ten-second phrase. NEVER stop talking just because they are talking over you. Make them take your mike down in order to quiet you. And if your mike gets taken down, wear that as a badge of honor. You struck a nerve and they couldn't think of any other way to shut you up.

  • become a broken record if you have to. repeat your ten second phrase a second time, calmly and forcefully as though people were still listening to you. some people are listening to you. it is hard to listen to two people at once and not everyone's attention will jump to the person who interrupted you.

  • after this then look right into the camera and throw in this magic phrase: "You're not letting me answer because you know I'm telling the truth." Don't scream, just say it with firm conviction (it helps that it is true). You are saying this to the viewers/listeners, not the host. The magic phrase gets the listener's attention and they will start mentally evaluating for themselves whether what you just said was the truth or not. Not just whether you are telling the truth about them not letting you talk, but whether you are telling the truth in your main point about personal risk accounts. If the host starts justifying why he isn't letting you talk, that only draws more attention to the fact that he isn't letting you talk. Suddenly you have become a proven truth teller and have gained a tiny bit of credibility in the listener/viewer's mind.

  • hold the thought in your mind that we're right and they're wrong and someday this will get through to the people.  use that or some similar thought to calm yourself so that you do not get frustrated or yell back. this is just one battle in a longer engagement--we can't win them all and we don't have to win them all. we are simply trying to lay bricks in the credibility wall for 2006 and 2008. it is already beginning to get through to some segments of Red America that we were right about the war. Soon they will begin to wonder what else we are right about. Every little bit of truth telling helps.

  • If possible, smile, knowing that you have the host rattled and on the run. Both the smile and the rattled host help our side in the long run.

  • If they give you any opening at all, go back to your main ten-second summary with a very brief lead-in like: "All I'm trying to say is" or "I just want to make this one point" or "It's really very simple".

Dems do badly on these shows for the same reason we have done badly in recent elections. We persist in thinking the public discourse/campaign trail/pundit shows have something to do with reasoned argument. We naively believe in spite of all the contrary evidence that Joe Redvoter makes up his mind based on a critical analysis of facts. That has not been true for a very long time, if it was ever true.

Joe and Jane Redvoter respond best to repetition of simple arguments. Blue voters are in a bind because we prefer our leaders to be smart if not intellectual, and we shoot ourselves in the foot by asking such leaders to communicate with people who are neither. It is as unnatural as learning to speak a foreign language. But it is learnable. Some people are naturally gifted at it, like the Big Dog. It was one of Dean's strengths, too: I want my country back!

People only remember arguments that are short enough for them to remember. To this day can anyone give a ten second answer to Kerry's position on the war? Kerry's public speaking skills were appalling by the standards of modern political communication; run-on sentences full of dependent clauses and parenthetical statements and by the time he got to the verb you couldn't remember the subject. That style may be very persuasive to people who are capable of following complex arguments, and it probably wowed Rollin Osterweis and the Yale debate team, but it is one of the many obvious things that cost us the election.

A simple lie will be believed by more people than a complex truth. Iraq War. Need I say more?

We have yet to determine whether a simple truth will be believed by more people than a simple lie. We haven't tried it yet!

This diary and its title were inspired by Georgia10's earlier diary about resisting the temptation to boycott Fox. It does no good to keep complaining about an uneven playing field. For better or worse, we must learn how to engage Rs in the venues where red and purple voters are getting their information. This means we can not simply boycott Fox Political Entertainment Channel and all the other "news" outlets where Rs have been so successful at shaping public opinion. It is way past time to turn their own strategy against them.

There is some evidence that Dems are beginning to come down off the high horse of claiming we are "above" such tactics. We used to find the entire strategy distasteful and claim we would rather lose than engage in underhanded psychological tactics.  And we lost and felt self-righteous about it. But now we are using minimalist charts and repetitive backdrops and memorable visuals and simplified arguments. I believe this is a big part of the reason why we have managed to score a few points lately on Social Security and the nuclear option and the excommunicated Dems in North Carolina. As we get better and more consistent we will continue to build on these victories.

From Ender's Game: "You will learn to defeat the enemy. He will teach you how." I believe we can teach ourselves to use aggressively simple communication tactics in support of the truth more effectively than Rs can use those same tactics to deceive and destroy. But first we must accept the fact that this strategy works and study it until we can thoroughly understand and adapt it.

All of us should be working on this until we have a critical mass of people who are capable of doing it at all media levels: from live appearances on Fox all the way down to calling in to your local wingnut drive time talk show. Every blue warrior here who has not yet read "Don't Think of an Elephant" needs to order a copy from Powell's today.

The tactics themselves are only dishonorable when they are used in the service of lies. It's time we redeemed these tactics by using them in order to tell the truth. There is no shame in communicating with people at a level they can comprehend, using words and concepts they can easily understand. Anyone who wants to be a leader in the inclusive justice movement has got to practice doing this until it becomes second nature. Our political future as Democrats, and indeed the future of our beloved country and the entire world depend on it.

We will learn to defeat the Republicans. They are already teaching us how.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The greatest diary I read (4.00)
    all day...
    Just spectacular.  Thanks.
    •  All Day? (4.00)
      I've been here awhile... I'll raise you six months.

      Every modern advertiser but the Democrats knows it ultimately comes down to connecting an emotion with a logo.  So far we don't quite have either.

      I'd suggest 'We Lead You To The Manger' (with profuse apologies to the image host).

      It ain't Bill Clinton making me explain "erections lasting more than four hours" to my kids

      by Irfo on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:33:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm so glad this diary... (4.00)
        Reiterates my point that religious opportunists such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson have perverted the true spirit of Christianity.


        •  ding (none)
          ... and we have a winner!
          •  What all of the above have said-WOW! (4.00)
            I read a NYTimes article some years ago about a workshop or school for Repub spokespeople.  The opening described a young man making a point.  He was stopped by the instructor, saying he was missing the most important thing--which, it turned out, was his sincerety "look."  It did not matter much what he said as long as he said it with utter sincerety.  It certainly did not matter if he believed what he was saying, as long as he looked "sincere."  It certainly doesn't matter if what is said is true.  

            (Bush tries to express this by wrinkling up forehead, I think--gives me a headache looking at him trying to be "sincere.")

            Part of the curriculum must be to continue speaking over anyone making a good point against them--Tony Blankley almost always tries to drown out Eleanor Clift's points on MacLaughlin Group. Pisses me off. (Which may also be an objective--I tend to change channels or turn off the TV when that happens....and the Repubs are speaking to the likes of me....)  

            I would suggest the Dems doing any "talk-over" must be "sincerely" polite while doing it.  Remember, IOKIYAR, but Dems are held to a higher standard.  Repubs are being "sincere," Dems will be called "shrill."

            But, wow, this diary certainly would help many of our Dem politicos who go on these programs.  Dems believe in the power of ideas, the power of rational argument; now, they need to discipline their presentations so that their ideas and arguments can get through.

            Thanks so much for this diary.  

            How will it be preserved for future reference?

        •  No, I think the point is... (none)
          The true spirit of Christianity has been perverted by that religious opportunists such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson.


          •  They're in it for the power, glory and money (none)
            3 things that mark them as anti-Christian.  That's why they love the old testament so much
          •  Passive verb use (none)
            Try this:

            Dobson and Robertson pervert true Christian spirit to their own bigoted ends.


            •  actually, passive verb was better.... (none)
              in this particular case.

              The goal is to make your real point as hard to find and disagree with as possible.  To slip it past The Right-Wing Reasoning Chip, so to speak.

              The trick to do that is called nominalization; essentially you want to turn the 'verby' part of a sentence into something 'nouny' and tack on a new verb to occupy your listener's RWR chip.

              If you try this version on people...

              "The perversion of the true spirit of Christianity by Dobson, Robertson, and other religious opportunists has been widely decried by moderate Evangelicals."

    'll find them arguing with you about who is and who is not a moderate Evangelical--while the whole perversion-by-opportunists series of presuppositions will slip right by.

              Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

              by chriscol on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 10:15:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I meant to say last night (4.00)
        That we have really been remiss on the level of making an emotional connection with our words.  We are good at making an intellectual connection, but then we are talking over the heads of the non-intellectuals.  To paraphase the famous Adlai Stevenson exchange, if we have the votes of all the thinking people in the country we will lose, because we need a majority.

        A minority of the electorate is capable of responding to an intellectual message, but everyone, including intellectuals, is capable of responding to the right emotional message.  Especially if that message connects to cherished values and a person's bedrock concept of what is True.  Just look at the emotion on this site every day!

        How can we harness this?  How can we catch this lightning in bottles?  Are our noses too far in the air to deign to look for common denominator messages both intellectuals and average Joes can relate to?

        Rs have been practicing this for twenty years and have beens sadly sucessful at selling the public a pack of lies in the process.  Call me naive, call me crazy, but I think we should try doing the same thing with the truth.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:56:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Political Communication and the Triune Brain (none)
          TrueBlueMajority -- this essay is THE BEST commentary on political communication I've ever read. Although it deals with responding to Faux News dittoheads as a point of departure, it is the essential lesson of political communication Democrats need to learn.

          Paul MacLean's theory of the Triune Brain can be very helpful in understanding the political communication challenges we face. The theory holds that the human brain is made up of three evolutionary parts: the Reptilian, the Mammalian, and the Human. The three parts interact, but each has it's own primary function -- the reptilian is instinctive and survival oriented; the human part is the cerebral cortex, which is the thought process and other higher brain functions.

          The importance of this, is that people don't make voting decisions on the issues -- it is their EMOTIONAL RESPONSE to issues that determine their choices.

          In fact, if you can push the emotional hot buttons, the issues become irrelevant. That's why Frank Luntz has been so successful, polling and programming the GOP to use emotionally charged words.

          An example -- when asked, most people will say they want fuel efficient cars. These same people then go out and buy an SUV. Why? The logical thought process says to buy a high MPG car, but the gut level reptilian brain emotional response is power, strength, and security -- which leads to the SUV buying decision.

          Bottom Line -- the emotional trumps the analytical, every time.

          This is why the fear response led Security Moms to vote for Bush -- which was entirely predictable, since Kerry made no effort to Swift Boat Bush's credibility as a strong wartime leader. Game over, Bush won.

          Lakoff talks about this, using the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life constructs as models. Choice is a consumer value; Life is a moral value. Consumerism is trumped by Morality -- advantage to the other side.

          Democrats lose arguments because they rely on issues and analysis, instead of emotion and passion -- Republicans win, because they go straight for the hot button emotional responses.

          Another way of looking at it is through the lens of Aristotelian communication theory -- Ethos; Pathos; Logos. These have been discussed at They correspond to modern marketing techniques of What; Why; How.

          Ethos = What -- What are your core principles?

          Pathos = Why -- Real World examples, that reinforce your Ethos.

          Logos = How -- The logical conclusions that naturally flow from the What and Why of your core beliefs.

          Those principles, in that order.

          As Democrats, We Believe in Liberty and Justice for All --

          The GOP believes in liberty for corporations, and justice for those who can afford it --

          •  ethos/pathos/logos, amen! (none)
            I have commented on the ethos/pathos/logos triangle many times.

            Here's one summary restated from a February post responding to a comment about "narrative of the mind" vs. "narrative of the heart":

            Ethos--first they have to trust you: either because of past trustworthiness, because of your role (pastor, president, doctor), or because other people they already trust are willing to vouch for you.  If you don't have their trust, you are stopped at square one.

            Pathos--you must make an emotional connection: push emotional buttons with the narrative of the heart.  But if they don't trust you, their emotions will not engage.

            Logos--this is the narrative of the mind, but it goes in one ear and out the other unless they trust you and have made an emotional connection with you.

            bottom line:  Dems have got to stop nominating logos-heavy candidates and giving logos-heavy TV interviews.  Even our occasionally strong attempts at pathos don't work because Joe Redvoter does not trust us.

            Whatever else establishment Dems might say about Howard Dean, he is pushing emotional buttons and getting an emotional response.  He is going to the heartland, letting people who almost never get to see a real live Democrat meet him and trust him.

            Whatever else Republicans may say about Dean, they fear any Democrat who has the potential to make an emotional connection with the people.  That is why they attack his trustworthiness, so that his emotional message will be muted.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jun 09, 2005 at 01:12:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Only one thing missing: (4.00)
      Practice. A live FOX interview--or more practically, for most of us, a call-in radio show--is not the time to try these tactics for the first time. Corporate CEOs hire expensive consultants to play hostile journalists, like personal trainers teach their clients how to box. We have to do exactly the same thing.

      Practice, practice, practice.

      •  I've already suggested that (none)
        We did a Framing Workshop here that was phenomenal (80 people turned out!) and I've already forwarded this as a suggestion for our next one.

        You are right on the money - we practice this in a controlled and friendly setting and we are going to make waves on the air.

      •  Practice works!!! (none)
        When I worked for an executive marketing company we helped the people we were working with develop stories that would illustrate that not only were they familiar with the responsibilities of a job they are interviewing but had successfully dealt with that issue. we had them practice these stories so that they could respond to questions in a concise and confident manner. It always works. People got positions!!! These are just good marketing techniques. It is not deceitful. Would you expect a concert violinist to play at Carnegie without having practiced the piece many times? Athletes practice all the time and have coaches who assist them in refining their technique.

        In thinking about the stories our executives prepared they always informed us that it gave them insight into their skills and into the complexities of the positions they were interviewing for. They reported that it assisted them in getting a faster start in the job after they began. Marketing is only a bad thing if you are trying to deceive someone. Keeping on message is effective and the best way to communicate. As a parent I did not ask my children what they wanted to wear that day (early ages) but whether they wanted to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt. This gave them practice in decision making and gave them a sense of control.

        This post is one of the best I have encountered since the Bush debacle began. We should proceed in the following ways: decide what our goals are, create the messages to communicate those goals, practice the messages and then deliveer them. Because we are truthful we will be effective.

  •  I wish I could recommend this (none)
    more than once!

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Mon May 09, 2005 at 05:52:03 PM PDT

  •  Brilliant Diary! (4.00)
    Recommended, naturally.

    We need a boot camp for this.  I've been saying it all along:  we have the facts.  It's our image and presentation that sucks to high heaven.

    A little tweaking like the pointers in your diary and we'd sweep in 2006 AND 2008.

    visit my brand new blog.

    it's pretty. and informative. it's pretty informative.

    by Georgia Logothetis on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:00:15 PM PDT

  •  Excellent... Excellent... Excellent... (none)
    recommend... recommend... recommend...

    In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards. - Samuel Clemens

    by SteveK on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:02:57 PM PDT

  •  My wife was on O'Leily once (4.00)
    He attacked her questioning the wisdom of the "Free Trade" and accused her of being aa "socialist."

    "Socialism doesn't work, Miss," he yelled condesendingly.

    She said, "Well, I support Social Security, Bill."


    Her mic was cut.

  •  A nice summary. Megadittos (heh) (4.00)
    I said the following comment elsewhere, but this is a good place to repeat it:

    Failure of Dems to vigourously defend one's position on these openly hostile programs is extemely detrimental to Dems. I believe that this shortcoming adds to JoeRedState distrust of Democrats in matters of foreign policy and national security.

    If JoeRedState sees a Dem kick some Republican ass, he'll be more inclined to trust the Dem with issues of war and peace. The opposite (or converse?) is just as true.

    Since 9/11, JoeRedState wants a leader whose is also a sumbitch. Let's give the customer what he wants.

    Freedom does not march.

    by ex republican on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:20:11 PM PDT

    •  it all comes down (4.00)
      to courage.

      You either have faith in your convictions, or you don't.  You either have the courage to speak the truth, or you don't.

      Change doesn't come from speaking the truth in sterile or friendly environments.  You venture into the belly of the beat, and you FIGHT.  Like MLK Jr., like Rosa Parks, like every other person who had the courage to look bias and stacked deck in the eye and stand their ground.

      If the Democrats actually had a coordinated media campaign; if they approached the info wars as a war where they have to be prepared, there is no reason why we can't get the truth the American public.

      visit my brand new blog.

      it's pretty. and informative. it's pretty informative.

      by Georgia Logothetis on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:26:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The deck is stacked (none)
        The people who own the airwaves and printing presses have people assigned 24/7 to assure that deep truths are not mentioned, let alone exposed. Very little gets through the real media "filter" that might threaten to awaken potential consumers from their torpor. It's going to be uphill all the way.
        •  But that is no reason (none)
          To give up! We have to keep plugging away as there is no other alternative. Giving up is not an option.
          Yes the deck is stacked but there are those who can fight the good fight and do the things suggested in this diary.

          We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

          by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:23:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  the courage of our convictions (4.00)
        Yes!  The way we back down and concede points to the other side has the effect of making it seem we don't believe what we say.    When we are pressed about our views and we back down, we never regain credibility in some people's eyes.

        When Rs keep repeating and repeating and repeating it gives the impression that they have the courage of their convictions.  Red voters say this about Bush all the time.  Kerry and Gore didn't come across the same way, although they probably mean what they say at the moment they are saying it.  And look at how much better Gore has gotten on this point since 2000!

        But when Dems are pressed on an issue and change the story, even slightly, even to "clarify" it, the power of the original statement is muted and it opens the door to the flip-flop charge.

        Even when what you are standing up for is wrong, people admire the fact that you don't back down.  Look at the way people responded to the Swift Boat Vets.  Redvoters like that about GDub's stance on the war.

        A handful of people standing up for the truth, even when completely outnumbered--maybe especially when completely outnumbered--is an extremely powerful tool of persuasion.  You mentioned Rosa Parks and MLK.  I also thought of the guy standing up to the Tiananmen Square tank.

        Keep it simple and stick to it.  That's all we need to do.  Wear down this mountain of lies the Rs have built with steady unrelenting drops of the water of Truth.

        Thanks for your comment and your recommendation.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:07:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  btw (4.00)
          let me shamelessly pimp a feature on my blog, which is related to this: Sunday Morning Smackdown

          It will be a practical, pre-emptive application of what I wrote earlier and what you emphasize here.  Your diary is an excellent foundation; now we need to put it in practice.  These are skills that need to be drilled, not just read and forgotten.

          I agree 1000% with your points.  Either we start having the right atttitude and stategy towards our media presence, or we can kiss 2006 buh-bye.

          visit my brand new blog.

          it's pretty. and informative. it's pretty informative.

          by Georgia Logothetis on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:15:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sunday Morning Smackdown is a GREAT idea! (4.00)
            one of the local conservative talk show hosts actually does this.  He critiques Republicans (including President Bush) by playing news conference/pundit show questions and re-answering them the way he thinks they should have been answered.  He sharpens up the message and usually gives it more punch.  I have long thought that some of the media savvy minds on this blog should provide a similar service to Democrats.

            I suggest we even do this in real time once the debate starts (tomorrow?) on the nuclear option.

            I'm glad you have your own blog--I promise to check it out.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:23:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not Quite (none)
      As tempting as it is to fight back, remember that we need to stop fighting the battle on the ground chosen by the enemy.  When we are on their turf, we need to stay calm and hold our position no matter how they attack us.
  •  A most important diary... (none)
    nice work.

    Decisions are made by those who show up.

    by poe on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:23:34 PM PDT

  •  Well done (none)
    And highly reccomended. The sooner Democrats realize that Republicans don't fight fair and don't play by the rules, the sooner we'll start winning elections again.
  •  "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight" (none)
    which is what Steve Gilliard wrote referring to the student(!) who smoked Ann Coulter while everyone else was trying to engage her intellectually.

    Highly recommended.

    •  Ooh, got a link? (none)
      I'd love to read about that.  I've been saying for a while that Coulter is nothing more than a performance artist, and that facts and reason are entirely beside the point when figuring out how to respond to her act.

      Fight this generation, fight this generation...

      by daria g on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:07:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uh, Raj looked like an idiot (none)
      What was his point?
      What did he accomplish?

      Celebrating purposeless disruption doesn't win arguments for us.  I would have much rather (if he was determined to be crude) Raj compare Ann Coulter's noted hedonistic lifestyle against those she condemns and contrast it with the 'salt of the earth' types she celebrates.  

      If he was determined to be crude.

      •  Look who he was talking to (none)
        a nasty, vile individual who only understands vile and nasty.  His question was tailored to the recipient.  If Coulter wants to talk shit about hitting people with baseball bats and the unnaturalness of homosexual sex, Raj was correct in asking her about heterosexual ass-fucking.  

        Coulter is a whore; she's a mouthpiece for a larger propaganda racket; her literary "works" are designed to attract precisely the type of audience who would use language like Raj's.  I say the question, and the manner in which it was asked, was spot on.

        •  But why not score real points? (none)
          •  I guess where we disagree is in the (none)
            fact that I don't think that reasonable discourse with Coulter has the potential of scoring real points.  She's a vulgar person; she writes books for an audience that applauds and appreciates her vulgarity.  I personally think that refuting her absurd arguments in a similarly vulgar fashion is more effective (when dealing with Coulter and her audience) than trying to reason with fools.  

            Saying, "Your stance on homosexual sex is hypocritical in view of your silence on heterosexual anal and oral sex" scores less points with these folks than, "what about hetero ass-fucking?"  

          •  "But why not score real points?" (none)
            I'd say he did.

            He asked a legitimate question, albeit in a gross way.  But it scores a real point, unanswered by Coulter:  Does the "sanctity of marriage" extend to abuse and forced, non-consentual sex?  (Is Coulter into that stuff?)

            From the descriptions I've read, Ajai Raj sucked the air out of the place with that question.  The rest?  Well, yeah, that was pretty infantile, even for a deserved expression of contempt.  But he didn't deserve being arrested.  See Colin Kalmbacher's article on Counterpunch at

      •  Come on (none)
        so maybe his crudeness could have been more nuanced for your preferences, but the point is he made her look ridiculous.
      •  You can't make any points with Coulter (none)
        She's not serious. She's a joke, a very bad joke. The only thing you can do is provoke situations that call attention to what an utter cheesehead she is.

        I would have asked her about the rumors that she is transsexual and demanded that she prove that she is a woman. If you are going to be unfair, I say be vicious.

        I noted with considerable amusement that despite the Time honey-and-almond-oil editorial massage, she was enraged by the photograph that made her look like a skinny little witch.

        Ridicule is the best antidote for toxic slime pretending to be human. News and issues for journalists.

        by Jules Siegel on Tue May 10, 2005 at 04:26:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Every time (none)
          you write about, post about, or talk about the hatchet-faced wowan, she wins, because you're giving her free publicity.  If you can see that, then you can see the obvous way to make her lose.

          And yet, it goes on and on.  She is the Michael Moore (targetus giganticus) for Our Side.  Sheesh, I am so tired of hearing about/reading about her.  Please, please [insert higher power of your choice], make it stop.

          NOTICE: No warning shots fired on this unit. [San Quentin - just for the FUN of it!]

          by moltar on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:05:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Raj's Problem (none)
        Raj could have been very effective had he been prepared with the story about David Hager, the Bush Administration appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration, who repeatedly sodomized his wife over the course of their marraige. He did this without her consent and even when she was on a sleep medication for a sleeping disorder. See this link:

        Get their attention and hit them with their hypocracy. We cannot act like Coulter and Limbaugh by being disrespectful ALL the time. Get their attention and make concise points.

  •  If Bobby Kennedy (none)
    had followed this advice he'd be alive today.

    I have no doubt the advice you offer makes sense to a certain degree. I see 2 problems however. The right wingers get away with it because they are playing with a stacked deck. The interviewers are co-conspirators and there is at least a gentlemen's agreement, if not outright prior rehearsal, of how the interview will go. The left doesn't get that benefit of the doubt. Shit, Stephonopolous gave Nancy Pelosi a real hard time when she attempted to play by your rules 2 weeks ago (SS "reform"), insisting she answer what "plan" the Democrats were proposing. She got flustered because her instinct was to answer him and go "off book." But her hands were tied in service I suppose to her larger message. No body ever holds the Republican's feet to the floor even, or especially, when they are caught in glaring contradictions.

    Also the problem I see is it devalues the persuasive powers of someone like Clinton, who doesn't need to adhere rigidily to talking points because he has the greatest weapon. Command of the subject matter at hand. The techniques you describe are really alternatives for knowing one's shit. Which is not to say you aren't right to espouse them. I just hate that everything gets so fucking dumbed down that it can't inspire. Sometimes it's good to get a middle-schooler off their ass to check out a dictionary if the speaker is someone they can relate to and is compelling enough to grab their attention.

    •  I hear you (4.00)
      about the stacked deck, and about their counter-tactic to lure us off message (on the rare occasions we are on message) because we are so easy to lure.  We can't turn off the part of our minds that hears a question and thinks--yes teacher, I know the answer!!!  When we hear an off-message question we can answer, we want to answer it.  Then the simplicity of our original message is blunted.

      As far as sending the middle schooler to the dictionary--a great many of these people don't own dictionaries.  You may have been speaking metaphorically, but we are dealing with a population that does not like to be forced to think.  To try a different metaphor--why can;t we give them the truth in tasty bites they can easily digest instead of insisting they eat their broccoli because it's good for them?

      This strategy is not a substitute for us not knowing our sh!t--it's a substitute for the redvoters not knowing theirs.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:13:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All I know is (3.50)
        MLK had kids who couldn't even read lining the streets because of his ideas. I know that's a stretch, but the real subversive power of liberalism is it's ability to inspire the little guy. Hewing closely to talking points robs us of some of the ability to do that.

        I'm not taking issue with your commentary, which is very well considered and impressively arrayed. I just feel a bit sad that it's all come to this. The emporer has no clothes and here we are checking out the new styles for Spring '05! Know what I mean?

        Really not trying to rain on the parade.

        •  maybe it's not a contradiction (4.00)
          kids who couldn't read lined the streets for MLK because there was something about the big idea that they grasped, even if they had no intellectual understanding or vocabulary to explain it.  We have a similar big idea.  Let's put it across in the language of the people.

          No need to automatically assume our talking points will be void of content, or that we are copying the emperor's invisible clothes.

          Talking points can still be inspirational.  I want my country back!

          Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:38:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For instance... (none)
            ... here is one I like to use on my relatives, when we're discussion "pharmacists' rights" vis-a-vis denying people prescriptions:

            1.  Birth control prevents abortion.

            From whence follows:

            2.  Activist pharmacists should be canned.

            You can also add:

            3.   Don't like it?  Move to France!  

            which, of course, makes no sense at all, but is fun.

            Now, to me, proposition 2. is self-evident, but this is a good way to expose the "people" to that fact through a soundbite.

  •  this stuff has always been pretty obvious... (none)
    the question is why have dems have their head up their asses for so long?  maybe coz many have never experienced a street fight and don't realize that at some point in life, you gotta throw the "better man" bullshit out the door and fight for you life.
    •  Forgive my rant, but (none)
      I generally regard the "better man" as not someone who fights according to some stupid rules, but someone who uses fights as a last resort -- and I mean last.

      (Look, before I go into my own definition, lemme just say I'm a wimp by any standard, and would probably pee my pants in a real fight.  But I know what my convictions are.  With that in mind:)

      IF I have any control of my body whatsoever, in a fight, I don't fight for pride.  I wouldn't fight for machismo, image, reputation, or any other ego trip.  Which is probably why I haven't been in a fight in over fifteen years.  But when I DO fight, because my enemy leaves me no choice, I won't stop until one of us is dead.  I don't play games.  I will hammer crotches, gouge eyes, tear at flesh with my teeth, rip off my enemy's ears with my fingernails if that's what I have to goddamned do to win.  I WILL kick someone when s/he's down.  Hell, I'll kick 'em even if they're coughing up blood.  If I don't show 'em, they'll just take their next fight to someone else.  None of this clean boxing shit.  Maybe after the first idiot to pick a meaningless fight sees one of us in the hospital (or morgue), the next jerkoff will think twice about taking his/her petty issues to me.

      That's what I'd like to see in a Democrat.  Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, and when the GOP FINALLY leaves you no recourse because they just won't stop twisting arms for their stupid fucking ideas, you fight like demon until your enemy bleeds to death.  No mercy, no deals -- not on a fight they asked for.  Make 'em think twice about DARING to waste your time again with a stupid hypocrisy game.

      I see some of that in Reid, and I like it.  The "better man" ain't someone who keeps his $10,000 cufflinks clean.  The better man is someone who yields on everything but the cause -- and then shows the posers what a fight to the gritty end is really like.

      Okay, sorry, but that was brewing for a while.


      My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

      by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:26:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary (4.00)
    This is an excellent diary: absolutely brilliantly useful, and (when you reflect a little) absolutely true. This needs to be sent to all Dkos dozen candidates in 2006, and we need to make damn sure they do this if they want our money. Nuance is for the writing of legislation and diplomatic negotiations, the actually important stuff, and there it should stay. Campaigning -- both on TV and off it, both on the campaign trail and off it -- requires this sort of rhetorical blunt force trauma.

    You spell it out clearly and perfectly, and even show how it's moral and ethical as long as the "one big idea" is an honorable and truthful one. Congrats!

    I'm sooooo glad we're now both on the recommended list so I can finally recommend this diary without worrying that it'll take my diary's place! I'm a little petty...

    GOP = Grandstanding Old Party

    by Addison on Mon May 09, 2005 at 06:58:49 PM PDT

    •  addison, my brother (none)
      I will admit to the same petty thought!

      I was writing a blatant whoring message on your diary when I noticed we were both on the rec list.

      Love your stuff.  Glad we're in this together, bro.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:15:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary (none)
    Just wish I saw Dems doing this on TV all the time . . . oh, how I wish.  BTW, extra points for that Ender's Game reference - think Orson Scott Card knows he's now a political strategy guru? :)

    "Dear God: Do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don't, who does?" Nathan -- Letters to God from Children, The Anglican Digest

    by md jeffersonian on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:03:32 PM PDT

    •  ha ha! (none)
      And a guru for the Liberals as well! His gay hating mormon ass would just CRINGE at the thought!

      this diary I'm printing out and sticking on my wall. Amazing job.

      •  just like heinlein (none)
        why do rightwing cranks who write science fiction have such appeal for lefties anyway?

        "Patriot: he who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." -Mark Twain

        by buffalobreath on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:42:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh, Who Knew (none)
          I'm surprised he's so anti-homosexual.  So many of his fictional writings have to do with understanding and not being afraid of the "other."  Haven't read any of his non-fiction or political writings, but the interest in science, history, and geopolitics reflected in his fiction seems inconsistent with what appear to be his political views.  Well, I guess we're most of us walking contradictions in some way or other.

          "Dear God: Do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don't, who does?" Nathan -- Letters to God from Children, The Anglican Digest

          by md jeffersonian on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:37:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yeah, it's a puzzler all right (none)
            the ender books in particular are all about tolerance, pluralism, and the necessity of being able to see the world from other people's point of view (especially those you despise or disagree with). but i suspect the homophobia makes sense within some kind of 'love the sinner, hate the sin' ethic.

            tolerance isn't the same as acceptance, i suppose.

            "Patriot: he who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." -Mark Twain

            by buffalobreath on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:38:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  He also is a good teacher of writing. (none)
              His explanation of viewpoint (in his book Characters and Viewpoint) is by far the best I have come across. (When I finish my novel, if it turns out to be a best seller, I will have to let him know he helped out a homo!)
        •  Heinlein wasn't really rightwing (none)
          He was a hawk, social liberal, had nothing but contempt for the religious right, commie hater and totally conflicted about women. Libertarian probably is the closest label you can slap on him.

          His portrayal of sex in particular was easy going, group sex, homosexuality...

          In his personal life he was a nudist.

          Fascinating man. Great author.

  •  I bow (none)
    before your altar!  
    Highly recommended!

    "Pro-life" really means "pro-criminalization"

    by Radiowalla on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:06:34 PM PDT

  •  Outstanding diary- (none)
    Its all of the stuff we've been trying to get across since last year distilled to its essence.

    Required reading.

    "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag" Senator Huey Long

    by Baseballgirl on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:08:06 PM PDT

  •  Yes, this is good (none)
    We DO need to quit arguing with these folks and get busy advancing OUR agenda. I know from personal experience that it is extremely easy to take the bait and jump into an argument of someone else's choosing. You'll find yourself on the defensive all day that way.

    Of course, you have to be careful not to overplay these tactics. Sometimes you have to address what is being said (I'm thinking Swift Boat Vets here). But it should be done quickly and dismissively, then quickly on the ten-second sound bite.

    Sadly, we have outlived the Age of Reason. We are now in the Age of Well-Funded Lies.

    "Who told you that you were naked?" Genesis 3:11

    by mrhelper on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:12:31 PM PDT

  •  the attack team (4.00)
    I've been bitching about for the while now:

    / a critical mass of people who are capable of doing it at all media levels/

    If we are to take the campaign of truth seriously, we need our own Special Forces.  Fuck Donna Brazile and the rest of the Dem "strategists" that are on now.  They just aren't cutting it anymore.

    visit my brand new blog.

    it's pretty. and informative. it's pretty informative.

    by Georgia Logothetis on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:18:18 PM PDT

  •  This Is a great Diary (4.00)
    and for anyone who has ever tried it, it is not as easy as it looks, because Democrats don't, as a rule, lie.

    It is real easy to stick to a talking point when no amount of fact contrary to your point will budge you even the slightest bit from your point.

    The other problem is that Democreats don't, despight the current republican talking point, resort topersonal attacks during these things.

    Ever notice that if republicans are being beatup by the facts, they immeadiately resort to personal attacks and sweeping unfounded and indefensible generizations.

    I like all of the comments and suggestions above, but want to add one thing, one word all democrats should have on their lips and be ready to use at the drop of a hat.


    If they say something that is untrue, even if it is a gross exageration, we mest vall them on that right there.

    Like when that now famous exchange on CNN thanks to the Daily Show where the right-wing nutjob start talking about non-existant studies about how harmful gay parents are:

    STEWART: The state House of Representatives in Texas recently passed a bill forbidding gay people from adopting foster children. The measure was drafted by State Rep. Robert Talton.


    As one supporter of the bill told CNN, this law is based in science.

    CATHY ADAMS (Texas Eagle Forum): We also have got to look at research that does show that children in same-sex coupled homes are eleven times more likely to be abused sexually. And I think that that is not an issue that can be ignored. It is a proven fact, and that was a research study done in the state of Illinois.

    STEWART: Wow. Hard to argue with that. You know, uh, but Kyra Phillips of CNN still gave opponent Randall Ellis a chance to respond.

    ELLIS (Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby): Well, I certainly haven't seen that research. I've certainly never heard anything like that. No child health care professional that I have ever spoken to, no one who has access to any of the credible research being done on these issues, has ever mentioned anything close to that.

    STEWART: Actually, you know he's right. The study that she mentioned is based on teh work of one knucklehead who did a Nexis search on the Internet to compile a scientific research (sic). It's a specious claim, and no doubt Kyra Phillips will cut through the spin and point out the facts.

    PHILLIPS: It's an interesting debate. A good debate. Thank you both very much.

    Ellis did a fine job with the facts, but the response should have been:

    "That is a lie and the biggest pile of crap I have ever heard.  You are either purposefully lying to evryone of us or you were lied to by someone else and you are too lazy and stupid to figure out it was a lie."

    Call them on their lie, let them say they have been maligned and try to prove what they said is not a that point, we have won.

    Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

    by ETinKC on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:19:08 PM PDT

    •  Exactly (none)
      Democrats have to call Republicans when they lie- otherwise, they just keep lying and therefore misinforming the public. I remember one time my brother was debating some wingnut on Republican foreign policy and this conservative was going on about how Reagan had defended freedom in Latin America and whatnot and cited some bullshit figure (I forget the exact details, but it was about Nicuragua). My brother said "that simply isn't true."
    •  truth telling by naming the lie (3.90)
      "That is not true" is a very powerful statement.

      "You cannot prove that is true" is another.

      "That is a lie and you know it is a lie" is useful only in those rare occasions where the lie is a matter of easily provable fact (like Rushbo claiming less than 50% of Bush's judicial nominees were confirmed).

      But you only have a few minutes in these formats.  Pointing out lies takes precious seconds time away from the time you have to speak the truth.

      Also, constant calls of "liar" open us to the charge of what Jim Wallis calls the "politics of complaint."  People get tired of hearing us complain about what's wrong with Republicans (ah, because there is SO MUCH that is wrong...).  We have to start focusing on what is right about us.

      Save charges about lies for long format shows or places where you can speak unchallenged (op-ed pieces, Air America, The Daily Show).

      Spend your time in hostile formats speaking truth to power.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:31:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you Diary Is right on (none)
        what I am talking about is after you made your point three times and the right gets so frustrated that they throw something out that is obviously false just to try to refute your point.

        Take your SS example above.  After making you point three times, the other side says:

        "Private accounts are supported by a magority of Democrats in Congress and they would be for it if it wasn't Bush's idea."

        (I think I actually heard that once)

        In cases like this, "you can not prove that's true" makes it sound like we are trying to get out on a technicality, where "That is a outright lie, Democrats want to preserve the promise of socicial security, not gamble it away like republicans have proposed" is a much stronger statement.

        Again, don't spend time explaining why they are lying, just throw it out and forve them to explain themselves.

        Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

        by ETinKC on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:58:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Notice how fundamentally polite that line is : (none)
          "That is not true."
          •  Politeness is for tea parties (none)
            Just once, just ONCE, I want to see someone on our side say, "You're a lying sack of crap and I can't believe you think you have balls big enough to even let that slip between your lips and not get called on it."

            Just once. I'm not asking for much.

            "Don't play the rumba, and don't play the samba, 'cause papa loves mambo tonight!"

            by Chilufya on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:15:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  They have a different concept of truth (none)
              I saw this repeatedly during the last election. E.g. one not-too-swift boat veteran guy was pulling something right out of his ass, and a veteran from Kerry's side corrected him, and the liar neither blushed nor blinked, but mumbled something and went right on. It was like "if it feels good, say it."

              I ran into the same thing at a barbershop, when I told some blowhard that, no, the photo of Kerry with Fonda was faked, and he replied, "Oh yeah, I know , but..." and went right on.

              It's like truth means something different to them.

              I think they are like borderline personality people. The FEEL first, and then build their reality around that.

              How do you deal with that?

              (And, BTW, the Bushies seem experts at manipulating this primative aspect of human nature, but why did they not foresee that the Iraqis are no less perverse?  A lot of Iraqi response to the U.S. has been "You are Jews" or "At least Saddam was not a Jew." (Compare that to Red America responding to us with "You are liberals" and "at least Bush is a Christian.")

    •  The media won't (none)
      Call 'em on their lies, cause as that CNN clip showed, the media sure won't.
    •  Actually, naming the lie doesn't help as much (none)
      as it should.  The lie still resonates.  It turns into he-said versus he-said (gender neutral, heh).  The moderators just nod their head and say, "Good discussion, guys."

      Using a simple and resonant counter-lie is actually a better approach.  Sounds sickening?  Get over it.  They call you on your lie, you call them on their lie, and in the absence of a moderator with any balls, the best lie wins.

    •  This is a perpetual problem with honest people (4.00)
      in depositions. They want to explain, because, you know, they didn't do anything wrong and if everyone just heard their side, they'd agree.

      Great way to lose your case.

      You don't explain in depositions, it's not a talk with your principal or your doctor; it's an adversarial proceeding, and the object is to win. Same with a Fox interview.

      You don't have to lie, in either case. You just have to resist the urge to "explain."

      •  No, you don't fight like a 3-year-old (none)
        This is going too far.

        Generally, when I win arguments, it's because someone tried to pull a trick on me and I pulled away the curtain.  I have more problems with people who have a sincere viewpoint.

        It's possible to prove bullshit is bullshit; I've done it.  And it doesn't involve winning a shouting match.

        My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

        by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:51:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not "Lie".... (none)
      it's losing its punch.

      How about "fairy tale"
      "imaginary numbers"
      "are you on acid?"
      "navel gazing"
      "What fantasy island have you been living on?"
      "If you believe that, there's this prime swampland in the sahara I'd like to sell you."
      "Did the tooth fairy promise you that?"
      "Who photoshopped those statistics for you?"
      "You seem to be having delusions of Godhood. May I recommend a good shrink?"
      "What a long nose you have, Pinnochio."
      And for belief-based nonsense: "Tinkerbell CPR--believing will make it real?"
      Or laugh.  Then congratulate the person on an outstanding Tall Tale.

      I think it's worthwhile to have half a dozen of these slams ready to go, and select based on the particular idiocy that is being spouted.

      A low-key personal example. My sister announced with pride that her daughter was reading the Left Behind books.  I responded by asking her when had Kelly started reading science fiction.  My sister seemed puzzled; so I told her that the only place I'd seen the books for sale was in the SFBookClub. Click!

      Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

      by chriscol on Tue May 10, 2005 at 01:00:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Other alternatives to "lie" (none)
        • "Interesting point. Meanwhile, back in THIS universe..."

        • Look at the other with mouth open (surfer dudish) for one short beat and then, "Whoooa. That was cool. Like Republican talking points on acid, man!  Hey, does Rove have your 'nads wired, or what...!!?" And then immitate the guy, making it a tad twitchy.
        (You got to be a bit of a comedian to pull this one off.)

        - "Hey, that's one of my favorite urban legends!" And if you are responding to email, I just stick in a Snopes link to the particular item.

  •  Good Diary... (4.00)
    unfortunately it makes me incredibly depressed.  It basically concedes that the United States is a dumb country full of dumb people who will never have the mental power to make the right decision unless they are talk down to.  This is why education is my number one issue.  If people took pride in intellect  we could progress to reasoned discussion.

    Here's to a more thoughtful dialog and a time where such tactics will no long be necessary.

    •  Simple folk (4.00)
      Americans aren't dumb people. They're simple, decent folk who want simple, decent answers to their problems. Only a liberal would say they're dumb.

      (See how they do it?)

      •  I disagree (4.00)
        People aren't stupid. They aren't simple either. While the ability to follow complex arguments varies, plenty of folks can and do do it all the time. Those people in turn tend to influence their peers. So serious argumentation still matters a lot. The problem is that the medium of commercial television is fundamentally hostile to that kind of presentation of ideas and therefore creates an environment in which this sort of dumbed-down discourse is the only way to "get your message out." Tips on how to conduct yourself when interviewed by Fox are fine (not that they are going to be much use to 99% of us who will never be in such a situation). Far more important is building up our own independent media capacity in which we can define not just the terms of debate but raise the standards of discourse.  

        "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories." -- Amilcar Cabral

        by Christopher Day on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:36:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not dumb (none)
          I don't think people are dumb. Rather, I think they are ill-informed, and because of Republicans, often misinformed.

          My post was just to draw attention to the way Republicans create short sound-bite arguments that work well on TV.

        •  Were It So (none)
          People aren't stupid. They aren't simple either. While the ability to follow complex arguments varies, plenty of folks can and do do it all the time. Those people in turn tend to influence their peers. So serious argumentation still matters a lot.

          In the words of Professor Terguson (as portrayed by the late Sam Kinison), "IS IT TRUE?"

          Sadly, if it were:

          • There'd be half a million registered Kossacks. Instead, there's only a tenth of that number.
          • Kerry would have won in a landslide (despite his shortcomings).
          • Dubya wouldn't have beaten Ann Richards.

          It breaks my heart. I believe in the power of intellect. But I also know what I've seen, and I've heard what I've heard. The general public does not read at a 12th grade level, and most folks make themselves far too busy in other parts of their lives to spend multiple hours in a week researching how they themselves should vote.

          I used to be an idealist ...

      •  Yes, and it's scary (none)
        How do people in the reality-based community play that game?
    •  simultaneous translation (4.00)
      I mean this gently, but there is a certain arrogance in defining this approach as "talking down."  Kind of reinforces the idea that we think we are "up".

      I made this point last month about the reason people watch Fox for their news.  It is a place where they won't hear literary references to books they haven't read or authors they've never heard of or plays they've never seen or movies with subtitles.  It is a place where they won't hear vocabulary words they have to look up.  It is a place that assumes their level of understanding is the norm (which it is) and worth representing.  

      One day Mrs. Brit Hume (forgot her name but she won't mind being called that) was on C-Span and actually said something to this effect (I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the quote):  people watch Fox because they are so grateful to have a news channel that doesn't make them feel stupid.

      The other side has spent decades devaluing what you call "pride in intellect."  that's an even harder battle to win.  Let's just use the words and images they understand in order to tell them the truth.    Why insist that they learn our language first?  One of the advantages of being the smart ones is that it is much more likely we will learn their language than they will lean ours, at least in the beginning.

      We are simply speaking their language.  Let's try to keep it judgment-neutral.  If you speak Spanish to Spanish-speaking people or French to French speaking people are you talking down to them or simply translating?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:54:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (none)
        This subject is far from being a dumb versus smart issue.  It is both a simplicity of message, and the acknowledgment that if you don't spit out your thought in under 10 seconds you are cut off.  This isn't the viewer's doing, this is the current state of media.  I am an editor in TV.  Any place in this medium that you see a shot, or hear a sound bite for longer than 10 seconds you are about to get the channel changed and lose a viewer.  Hosts are not necessarily your enemy, they are just following the rules, and if you get cut off you just haven't read the rulebook.

        But now you have, so talk simple, write long-winded.  I do.

      •  Translation=Communication=Changed Thinking (none)
        As far as personal conversations go, only a fool intimidates a possible convert to our view. And any intellectual who comes across as a know-it-all does just that in this neck of the prairie.

        Most Republicans here are Rs 'cause dad and granddad were Rs. And due to the lack of any real news via the MSM to the contrary, they believe that Rs at the national level are still the same Rs they've always known, for decades in some instances.

        In a so called, Red State, our two Sens and one Rep are all democrats. And one of the main reasons they keep getting re-elected is their ability to communicate in a way that matches the culture... that, for example, recalls humorous sayings everyone is familiar with, and applies them to the topic at hand.

        Since they're all original to the state these guys know the local "language", and they apply that knowledge to persuasive discussion.

        None of the above discounts the absolute necessity of reading "Don't Think of an Elephant"
        as those without an understanding of the concepts will not be as effective as activists.


        If they weren't on to me I'd be worried. To not be part of their dossier is to not leave a record, to not be part of the passion of our time- LewLubka

        by NorthDakotaDemocrat on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:37:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  very interesting (but short) discussion (none)
      pertaining to your comment, Katulus (and excellent diary, TBM!)

      When I first read the diary, my first instinct was similar--it's depressing that we have to change our methods to a dumbed-down America.  

      But that IS arrogant--(although I do feel this way).  Not all of America has the time, or the background, or the interest to be intellectuals.  Most don't.  Most fit into a simple-minded category because intellectualism, or even clear comprehension, is not where their interests lie.  It would be nice to see that change, but that's another topic.

      What IS important is that thinkers CAN influence policy--but that's where the delivery mechanism is important--it does require translation.  Just because our presentation seems dumbed down doesn't mean the logic behind it hasn't been deeply thought out.  And once people are won over to our side, partially thorugh this delivery mechanism, then perhaps some of them will be interested enough to enlighten themselves even more.

    •  People ARE dumb (4.00)
      It's not unique to Americans or TV watchers or anything else.

      We're dumb. As a species we're dumb. We're driven by our emotions -- and we'll go to great lengths to "logically" justify things that we did for emotional reasons. We're easily confused. We're tricked by con men and optical illusions and perceived risk and our poor memories.

      We're also smart. The human race is full of smart people -- people who can explain quantum mechanics but not balance a checkbook. People who are brilliant artists and so dysfunctionally insane they couldn't feed themselves without assistance. People who love and care deeply for everyone around them, who still support the hate-filled agenda of the theocrats.

      Sure, we liberal idealists are always trying to get people to be better -- more thoughtful, more informed, more compassionate -- but we don't get there by ignoring human realities.

      I have a dream.

      •  Wow, McJulie. (none)
      •  Exactly! (none)
        One cannot be knowledgeable and capable in every subject area. I am very well educated.  I have read extensively and spent a great deal of time studying human behavior, history, politics, current events, language, literature, and communications,  but when it comes to physics, carpentry, or auto mechanics, I am a complete moron.  

        We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

        by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:38:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but even then... (none)
          I am only semi literate in political science when compared to many of this blog. Compared to a historian, I know nothing.  I am quite impressed with many diaries and comments here. But then I am equally impressed when my mechanic describes what is wrong with my car, when the contractor tells me how easy it is for him to build a house completely to specifications and attention to detail in just a short time. I stand in awe of peoples' talents like an artist because I cannot draw a straight line, a composer because I cannot begin to put notes on paper that work together, a nurse because I cannot imagine their level of responsibility, a man or woman stationed in Iraq and what their day to day life is like or to be a Aid worker in an impoverished and dangerous area of the world. Yet they know so much and have the confidence to perform their jobs each day even in the worst of circumstances. I am a moron when it comes to technical and scientific endeavors as well. Medical knowledge is something I am learning on my own to deal with diseases faced by friends and family but anything even remotely related to chemistry or calculus causes my brain to sweat. LOL! I suppose some Red voters would find me incredibly dumb to them because everyone they know  can fix their own cars and wire their houses and fix their own plumbing and do their own taxes.
          So I cannot judge as in some worlds, I am dumb according to the definitions that person may hold.

          It does not make any of them dumb because they are NOT  analyzing and studying the political issue as we are. Some have no interest which boggles my mind while others simply do not have the time.  I have to keep reminding myself of that each and everyday so I do not become a snob wondering why are they are so dumb.....because, in reality, they are not dumb, simply misinformed.

          We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

          by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:54:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Above all (none)
        You can never have enough communication skills.

        As a translator, I once pointed out to some co-workers (who said I wasn't need someplace because they had someone who spoke English):

        "Just because they speak a language doesn't mean they can communicate."

        I know plenty of Americans who speak fluent English and can't communicate to save their lives.  They're called Democrats.

        My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

        by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:55:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not about talking down (none)
      It basically concedes that the United States is a dumb country full of dumb people who will never have the mental power to make the right decision unless they are talk down to.

      It's about being clear, having passion, and showing the courage of your convictions.  It's also about being smart about the media on which you're choosing to appear.  

      I'm no genius, but I went to an Ivy League college and grad school, and I write for a living.  But half the time I don't know what the hell the Democrat is trying to communicate on these shows, Fox or otherwise.   It really pisses me off to see someone in my party go up there like a lamb to a slaughter because he was too arrogant, or lazy, or snobbish to realize that he has some goddamned work to do if he's going to communicate points effectively (ESPECIALLY if the deck is stacked), and that it's going to take some preparation, discipline, and -- most importantly -- a genuine desire to get the truth out to the audience, past the interference.

      So it's just the opposite of "talking down."  It's respecting the American audience enough to want to communicate clearly with them, and INCLUDE them, not simply have a rambling chat with other insode-the-Beltway types.  Because the Repubs aren't playing that game, even when they appear to be.  

      It's long past time that every Democrat who put him/herself in front of a microphone or camera knew how the hell to use it.  Thinking that's beneath you, as too many Dems seem to, means you get creamed time and time again.  It's a disgrace.

      So if any Democratic politicians are out there, reading:  for god's sake, print out this excellent diary and start studying.  Then start drilling.  There's no more excuse for not being prepared for battle.  

    •  Democracy without educated people (none)
      cannot work. Simple as that.

      Why don't we ever talk about education on DKos? We should be pushing reform 24/7. More resources, and more critical thinking - less standardized tests, less rote learning.
      If Joe Sixpack doesn't want his children to be enlightened then at least we can make sure that our own children gets a real education.

      No more NCLB, fuck that shit. No more teaching-the-test. No more corporate sponsored lessons on American history.  

      Hillary. Wrong on the issues. Wrong elitist image. Wrong for Democrats. Brian Schweitzer 2008

      by Joe B on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:19:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not dumb (none)
      This is getting a little condescending to talk of Democrats as intellectuals and the other guys as dumb people who can not follow an argument.

      It's not a matter of smart vs. dumb, just what most concerns people and how busy they are with their day to day lives.  Acting like we are the only smart ones just gets us in trouble because the people from the other side that we are trying to convince will pick up on the "we're superior" vibe and turn off.

      The fact is that many people (both liberals and conservatives) do not live and breathe politics and national/international affairs, unlike we Kosacs, and don't give politicians much attention until they have to near the election.  

      So you need to do Marketing 101:
       - messages need to be extremely clear to cut through the clutter, (so short is best)
       - emotional messages are more powerful than rational ones,
       - repeating your message is important to be remembered.

      This doesn't mean lying, but it does mean staying on message and not trying to explain.

  •  Matching Liberal Speech Voltage to Nation (4.00)
    Your point is that liberals should communicate to Republicans and the media by being simple and repetitive.

    In order to convey the point to liberals, you found it useful to expand this idea to 1700 words.

    If word count were voltage, it would seem that to connect liberals to the national grid requires about a 20:1 stepdown transformer. Or the same stepup going from the national discourse to liberals.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon May 09, 2005 at 07:21:48 PM PDT

  •  It is not a natural ability... (4.00)
    ... so teach it already.  Rush always accuses effective liberal callers of being Seminar Callers.  So?  Public discourse (I avoided "debate" deliberately) is a skill that needs to be studied and refined.  If you don't know what the strategies are to take advantage of the ground rules, you will get stomped each and every time.

    About 30 years ago I lived in the laid back California town of sunny San Rafael.  We had a local HS baseball team that was among the nation's best.  A taiwanese travelling team came through to play a game, and what happened is a perfect example of KNOWING what certain situations call for.

    Redwood HS played them to a 0-0 tie, it may have been the first game the foreign team had not waltzed to victory.  In the last inning, Redwood got men on first and third with 1 out. The runner on first broke for second and the catcher threw him out witha strong throw.  Unfortunately for the guests, they had never seen a double steal and the man on thrid came home for the win.

    I guarantee that when those players went back home, they pulled that a few times on their unsuspecting opponents.  But once it has been seen, it is much less effective.  To bring the story back to the issue at hand, once this technique of "THIS is my point"  is used, the effectiveness will be apparent.  Forget about "being polite" or "I'm just a guest"... it is a war of ideas.  Plant the seed and let the listeners nurture it on their own.  With enough fertilizer, it wil blossom and the truth will out.

    Side note:  I'd love to see a regular feature on The Art of War.  That may be the most important book I've never read.  Every quote I have ever seen rings as true today as it must have 2000 years ago.  Anybody willing to educate us?

  •  Stick to the Main Point (none)
    See paragraph two:

    From The Art of War: "Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy."

    This is about a hostile interview setting, not a reasoned debate.

  •  Also (none)
    If O'Reilly asks where you got your "statisitcs" from, say it came from the Paris Economic Review.

    The Revolution will not be televised. It will be blogged.

    by librarianman on Mon May 09, 2005 at 08:35:38 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (none)
    If I could throw a whole bunch of recommendations your way, I would.
  •  A truly superior essay in every way. (none)
    It's beautifully and clearly written; it's eminently readable; and it's convincing and memorable.

    It ought to be among the Democratic manifestos - if there are such things. Certainly it should be required  reading for anyone entering politics.

  •  Suggested alternative: (none)
    "Younger workers want a system of guaranteed benefits, they will not take a chance on these personal risk accounts the Republicans are pushing on everyone."

    Instead of that, try:

    "Younger workers want a system of guaranteed benefits so that they can take risks with their present. Taking risks is fundamental to the entrepreneurial spirit of the USA and is encouraged by ensuring a certain minimum level of retirement savings. Taking risks with our retirement prevents us from taking risks elsewhere."

    Even better might be to throw in stuff like "Would Bill Gates have taken a risk by starting Microsoft if he knew Republicans were gambling with his financial future?"

    Or _____ (insert company here, if Microsoft isn't very popular where you're doing the speaking :P)

    Go collect a list of "questions" from the latest Talking Head Shows (esp. ones that turn into shouting matches) and record all the questions. Then practice.

    See if you can turn every single one of them into "Social Security is bad". Ridiculous? Yes, but it works. The Libertarians (see: Grover "Traitor" Norquist) have practiced this for years. I know they used to put a list of concepts and so forth into a hat and then taking turns pulling the concepts out and explaining how Libertarianism was the solution to the problem or the source of the concept if the concept was good. I dunno if they do anymore but that always struck me as effective, if (yes) questionable.

    The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

    by Shapeshifter on Mon May 09, 2005 at 09:51:49 PM PDT

    •  A more effective talking point... (none)
      "Social Security is what made America great!"


      "Bush has robbed Social Security!"

      Decorate either of those, anyway you want.  They both evoke emotions and they are easy to remember.

      •  I dunno... (none)
        Why i hear that i say "" or "why?" or "how?"

        The only emotion it evokes in me is suspicion. But i might be a bit unusual as i am suspicious by nature.

        The reason i like my proposals is because it takes the usual reason against Social Security ("We can't afford to continue it", essentially) and turns it on its head: "we can't afford NOT to continue it".

        The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

        by Shapeshifter on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:07:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm... (none)
      My eyes started crossing with your first "instead" example - too many passive verbs and complex sentences.  Keep explanations to a minimum in hostile situations.  Just getting the bare point out is the aim.

      Basically, if you can't read something with a two second glance, you won't be able to clearly get it out in 10 seconds.

      Your exercises at the end, however, are excellent ideas.

      Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely in my name.

      by A Texan in Maryland on Wed May 11, 2005 at 02:04:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your question was... (none)
    "To this day can anyone give a ten second answer to Kerry's position on the war?"

    Well, no. But the problem wasn't just Kerry's inability to explain his position in a coherent way, the problem was the position itself.

    Although I agree with you that presentation is important, too many "framing" advocates act as if we can talk about presentation in a vacuum - away from discussions of policy.

    Getting back to Kerry, he had an absolute loser position on the war: "yes, it was wrong and foolish and unnecessary, but now that we're there, I'm all for it". A genius couldn't have sold that crap.

  •  SEND THIS TO THE DNC (none)
    This is one of the most useful diaries I've ever read.  Democrats are amazingly pathetic on pundit shows, and these very simple and not-difficult-to-do suggestions would improve our ability to put out our messages SO much.  Please take a moment to let the DNC know about this diary.  And if you see Rep. Slaughter or Conyers or Boxer or Feingold 'round these parts, try to let them know, too!  This is great stuff.
    •  Feingold (none)
      Feingold already seems to know this...that's why he wins so big in such a battleground state. I've been saying this for a long time, he's a great politician who knows how to speak to the people.

      "Take it all in slowly, real fast."

      by Perdition on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 01:35:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Required Reading (none)
    A brilliant diary with advice we all need to take to heart and apply immediately.  The R's have been controlling the discourse because they use sound bites to spread lies better than we can spread the truth.  Follow these instructions and take a page from their playbook.  We can't take back the country if people don't get our message.
  •  asdf (4.00)
    Yes, TBM, I take your points and the diary is great but I have to take exception to this: The tactics themselves are only dishonorable when they are used in the service of lies.

    The tactics themselves are dishonorable, period.  I can concede that they are a necessary evil, but please, please, let's not desensitize ourselves to just how odious they are.  

    Really.  Public life should consist of reasonable discourse, that it doesn't is a testament to a shamefully ignorant electorate and the schools that failed to educate them.  

    Really what we're talking about is battling over the manipulation of weak minds.  There's nothing honorable about that, I'm sorry.  Expedient, fine, but not honorable.  It's tragic.  

    Let's all just keep in mind that we can't hold education as a core value while (in effect) profaning education in practice.  Our goal is to lift up the benighted masses, not cynically manipulate them.      

    ...But Achilles, weeping, sat down at a distance far from his companions, beside the whitening waves, his eyes fixed upon the boundless sea.

    by weeping for brunnhilde on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:26:29 PM PDT

    •  Speaking Greek? (none)
      Would you give directions in Greek to someone you know speaks only English?  I hope not.  Even if you think it is unfortunate that Greek is no longer required in schools, it doesn't do any good to insist on using Greek if you know your listeners don't understand.  First, we need to get people to believe what we are saying.  Conveniently, we happen to be telling the truth.  I was always led to believe that there was nothing wrong with telling the truth in simple language.  I'm not sure why it is suddenly condescending to express the truth simply.  All the best and most interesting teachers are very good at explaining complex concepts in everyday terms that can be understood by people with less education than the average Nobel laureate.
      •  Please re-read my post (none)
        Using your analogy, I conceded that it might be necessary to speak English to an English speaker who doesn't speak Greek.  What I lamented was that he or she doesn't speak Greek in the first place.  I happen to think education is good, not bad and yes, it's too bad we don't speak Greek, or any other language, for that matter.  All I'm saying is that just because people no longer speak Greek (to maintain the analogy) doesn't mean that Greek's not worth speaking.

        ...But Achilles, weeping, sat down at a distance far from his companions, beside the whitening waves, his eyes fixed upon the boundless sea.

        by weeping for brunnhilde on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:10:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Greek is Good (none)
          I agree completely that it is unfortunate that people no longer learn to speak Greek.  But does that mean that we must forego speaking to them until they learn it?  Inability to speak Greek does not disqualify them from voting.  I'd rather they vote on the basis of simple truth than simple lies.  I happen to be a big proponent of teaching all people more than one language, but in the meantime, I will try to communicate in any manner they understand, even if that means resorting to pictures.
      •  also (none)
        Do you not find this somewhat disturbing,

        First, we need to get people to believe what we are saying.  Conveniently, we happen to be telling the truth.

        Precisely, we happen to be telling the truth but we're denying people the tools to establish that for themselves.  It just feels wrong to me if we're getting people to believe what we're saying for the wrong reasons, those reasons being that we've learned how to employ some handy-dandy advertising techniques.  Again, this may be expedient, but it's not desirable.  That's all my point was.  If we have to trick people into agreeing with us, our position and our authority become arbitrary and precarious, effective until a greater huckster comes along.  As long as these are the terms of "debate," any authority we may manage to win will be tenuous and ephemeral.  


        ...But Achilles, weeping, sat down at a distance far from his companions, beside the whitening waves, his eyes fixed upon the boundless sea.

        by weeping for brunnhilde on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:44:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Once we have the "customer's" ear, (none)
          we can help introduce them to methods of divining the truth on their own.  I didn't see any evidence in that comment you respond to that we need to deny anyone the means to do this.

          When they find that our advertising is truthful, I expect they'd be genuinely grateful for finding politicians and other public figures who were able to promote the truth so successfully.

          If we don't take the step of translating into their language first, however, we'll never get anywhere.

          "Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles." --Luke 1:52

          by Scarpia on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:18:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  say more (none)
      what is it exactly about the tactic that you find odious?

      why do you call it cynical manipulation to meet the people where they are?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:46:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for asking... (none) much here that I find odious.  For one, the format itself is odious.  It's combative and superficial and as such undermine rather than strengthen the bonds of civil society.  

        It's also cheap, which means it cheapens everything that comes into contact with it.  I think political discourse should enoble us and there's nothing enobling about soundbites.

        Education is humane and humanizing because it challenges us to be explore and question and aspire and be curious and empathize.  These tactics facilitate none of these things.  They're ultimately dehumanizing and insincere and by design allow no room for the authenticity that cements interpersonal relationships.  

        You said something about becoming a broken record if we have to.  That may be expedient, but we're not broken records, we're human beings and should strive to embody dignity.

        You say it's meeting people where they are, but the problem is that where they are is a false, empty place.  Far better (in the long run) to talk to them in person than to play the media game.  

        Better the Democrats should hire thousands of people to do grassroots organizing.

        The reason the proposals sound to me like cynical manipulation is because they are; you're proposing tactics tested and proven to work, the way advertisers take scientific research to induce people to buy toilet paper.  It just seems cynical to me to use tricks to talk to people when the people you're talking to aren't aware of the tricks.  It's kind of scary, actually.  Far better we educate people so we can engage with them in the way that we engage with one another, here on kos, for example.  It's honest, it's open, it's spontaneous and it's just more authentic communication.  If it's good enough for us, it's good enough for them.  

        Sorry to be so sanctimonious, but I feel strongly that television is (more or less) evil by its nature.

        So the tactics you prescribe are well-adapted, to be sure, but I fear what we might become as a society (and a species, for that matter) if we let ourselves be irrevocably shaped by the standards of Fox News.  

        ...But Achilles, weeping, sat down at a distance far from his companions, beside the whitening waves, his eyes fixed upon the boundless sea.

        by weeping for brunnhilde on Mon May 09, 2005 at 11:26:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually, I agree (4.00)
          with a lot of what you have said here.

          I can understand your desire to refuse to play according to rules you perceive to be inherently corrupt.

          I also deeply empathize with the wish for the world to be different than it is.  I wish that political discourse could ennoble us, as it did in the days of yore.  No sarcasm meant or intended.

          I agree 100% that grassroots one-on-one organizing is a higher form of persuasion and that Dems should be doing that.  HBD's red state tour accomplishes this.  He is bypassing the punditry route altogether, traveling to areas where prominent Democrats almost never go, speaking to people in small venues, taking questions and encouraging people to connect with one another on the local level.  I believe this is the highest and best persuasive technique available to us and it will bear much fruit in '06 and '08.

          I also tend to agree that the mass market culture advertising system is impersonal and degrading, manufacturing desire and attempting to keep people in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with the intention of more easily manipulating and controling them.

          And last but not least I agree that most men lead lives of quiet desperation and the place where many of them are is a false, empty place.

          But should we leave them there?

          What is wrong with being combative under these awful circumstances?  Should we do nothing to combat the forces that have led so many people to be so passive about remaining in such a false, empty place?

          If you and I persist in longing for a world that does not exist, an ideal world where we reject any form of political persuasion not based on higher level reasoning, then we will end up with candidates that people will rightly dismiss as not being connected to the world as it is--and therefore unfit to govern.

          The system isn't going to change itself from within.  The system cannot correct itself without us.  If we do wait for the mass re-education of the people to understand the nuance of what we are doing and why, those who created and benefit from the cheap, corrupt manipulative system currently in place have even more time to consolidate their hold on power in the meantime.  Is that a desirable alternative?

          A tool is benevolent or dangerous based on the hand of the person wielding it.  The tools of modern political communication are at our disposal.  We would owe future generations an explanation and an apology if we refused to use these tools because we were wishing and hoping and thinking and praying and waiting for more "honorable" tools to become available.  We need to adopt tactics we can put in place now.  Our opponents have already done us the favor of showing us what works.  What they have used in service to a lie, we will use in service to the truth.

          Utopias are fun to dream about.  However, Erewhon is nowhere.  Waiting for utopia to magically appear is obviously not a reasonable short term goal.  We cannot afford to let the people in Washington now keep hold of the reins of power for too much longer.  They already control the Executive branch, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, the majority of governorships, the majority of state legislatures, the majority of school boards, major publishing houses, think tanks, enormous amounts of money, influential newspapers and magazines, and several national media outlets.  They are defining and shaping public opinion while we sit back and watch.  Even now they are in the process of tearing down the checks and balances that are the last remaining obstacles to prevent them from staying in power forever.  And in all honesty they might do something insane enough to get us all killed.  Time is of the essence.

          The best analogy I can come up with along these lines is seeing your five year old child reaching a hand into a skillet on the stove.  Innocently, ignorantly.  You have to do something to stop him--immediately.  This is not the time for bemoaning the fact that they don't teach physics in grammar school anymore.  It is also not the time for complex diagrams on heat dispersion in cast iron cookware, or a time-intensive biological explanation of why it will hurt him, so he will understand completely what you want him to do and why before he takes action.

          You want to say something that will get his attention immediately, turn it from the pot to you, and not follow through with the hurt he is about to unknowingly inflict on himself.  There is no time to educate him, and no reason to expect him to understand anything other than the very simplest message.  NO!  STOP!  WAIT!  COME HERE!

          When I was two I stuck a hairpin in an electric socket.  It flew back out at me and burned my chest and I carried the mark of it for over twenty years.  The urgency of that moment meant that there was no time to educate me about the dangers of electricity.  Someone needed to grab me and shake me free of the danger, and stop me before I hurt myself further, and someone did.  I was much much older before I was able to understand exactly what happened and how lucky I was that I was not more badly hurt.

          Someone insisting on giving me a high level explanation at the time would have been putting me at more risk, though I was a very bright child, even at two.  Although I do believe in the kind of parenting that explains to even young children the reason for parental decisions at a level they can understand, in emergencies you wait to give the explanation until the danger is over.  Let's get out of this mess and explain it later in the history books.  But first let's get out of this mess.  Together.  With anyone we can recruit to join us.

          No need to apologize for your sanctimony.  I guess I am responding to your sanctimony with paternalism, and I'm not sure which is worse.  But the fact remains that we are the ones who see what is going on and we have some responsibility to warn the ones who don't see what is going on, using any means at our disposal to get their attention.

          There's nothing ennobling about soundbites?  I'm not so sure about that:

          • We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

          • Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, some day.

          • Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.

          • I am a MAN.

          • Some men see things as they are and say why.  I dream things that never were, and ask why not.

          • The whole world is watching!  The whole world is watching!

          • What did the President know, and when did he know it?

          • The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.

          • Keep hope alive!

          • I'm from the democratic wing of the democratic party.

          • I want my country back.

          While I was writing this with Nick at Nite on in the background, an old episode of the Cosby show just played the end of the I have a dream speech.  It almost moved me to tears, the way it always does.  It's not dumbed down, it's just simply stated.  It moved the hearts of illiterates and Rhodes scholars alike.  It changed the country.  It changed the world.  If someone among us here at dKos is as eloquent as MLK, we haven't seen him/her yet.  But we can all learn to speak simply and powerfully.  We can all learn to distill our message to its essence.  We can all step forward in faith, in conviction that our cause is just, and speak things that are not as though they were, until we make them manifest.

          The truth is not a trick.  The truth is true and always worth saying whether we say it in a simple way or a complex way.  We are not selling toilet paper.  We are not tricking people into buying into some useless meaningless fad.  We are trying to save the world from some heartless, singleminded, power-hungry men who have lied their way into the creation of an uneven playing field, have no qualms about playing dirty, and literally thank God for our high-minded reluctance to fight back.  This is a serious self-defense situation.  Too much is at stake.  We have to do whatever we can do, and do it right away.

          We have to do it with eighth-grade level vocabulary, and pop song lyrics, and comic strips, and late night comedians, and slogans on t-shirts, and billboards, and sandwich boards on street corners, and handwritten flyers stapled to telephone poles.  And we have to do it in the most effective, memorable, and inspirational way possible during the precious few minutes and seconds we are alloted during the hostile interview segments we manage to get booked on the television and radio shows our opponents control.  We did not pick the format.  It has been forced on us.  There is no point now in wishing for a different format.  This is what we are forced to work with.  And the limited education and attention span of the electorate is also what we are forced to work with.  Are we going to sit back and wish it all weren't so, or do what we can while we can?

          Among ourselves we can still speak Greek.  But if we care at all about the people who don't, we won't make them wait until they reach our level of discourse before we share with them what we have learned, so that we can  work together to save our country and the world from some deeply dangerous, completely unscrupulous, frighteningly evil men.

          Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. These are the tools at our disposal.  Let's use them and explain ourselves later.  The time is now.

          Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:06:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks... (4.00)
            ...for an eloquent and impassioned response.  And thanks for formulating my position far more eloquently than I was able to myself.

            I don't think we disagree and maybe my initial posts were too heavy-handed; my only main point (which you seem to agree with) was that since the "theater of engagement," if you will, is dishonorable, so too are the tactics employed therein.  That's all.  I tried to say that I'm willing to concede that they are a necessary evil, but as such, should be handled with care and not embraced triumphally.  

            So when you write this:

            Utopias are fun to dream about.  However, Erewhon is nowhere.  Waiting for utopia to magically appear is obviously not a reasonable short term goal.

            I agree wholeheartedly.  Although I said that such tactics were evil (as in, ultimately undesirable), I also said they were (sadly) necessary.  Nowhere was I advocating dreaming or waiting.  I was, however, trying to warn us against the possible risks to our long-term project of Utopia entailed by our lowering of our own standards.  

            I simply objected to using the term 'honorable' to describe these tactics because in my mind, they're not honorable, they're merely expedient and didn't want us confusing the two.  

            Calling them such devalues (in my mind) the concept of honor, the risk being that with misuse over time, we ourselves become less than vigilant about creating a truly honorable (moral, just, good, etc.) society because we forget how intrinsically undesirable were those expedient tactics that we've now learned to master.  With mastery comes conceit and I wanted to warn us against succumbing to false notions about the intrinsic goodness of our tactics.

            Perhaps our disagreement comes here: A tool is benevolent or dangerous based on the hand of the person wielding it.  The tools of modern political communication are at our disposal.

            I'm not sure I believe this.  I'm ambivalent about whether tools themselves can be intrinsically evil, but tend to believe they can, regardless of who's wielding them.  

            Nuclear weapons are an obvious (if cliched) example that leap to mind.  

            Then there's the whole "the medium is the message" argument, which I suppose I'm influenced by as well, though I've never read the author (McCluhan, was it?).  

            And as to the power of soundbites, I agree 100%.  As I was maligning soundbites, I did ask myself how I could distinguish between their use and that of rhetoric, and I'll confess I'm stumpped on that one.  Maybe the problem is just one of good v. bad; poetic resonance v. empty slogans.  Maybe my problem with soundbites isn't that they're rhetoric, but that they're bad rhetoric.  I'll leave it at that for now...

            Anyway, that's all.  I agree it's critical and urgent to engage in the wrestling wring, I'm just concerned that doing so may generate new and unforeseen (and much more insidious) social dilemmas.  

            To that end, I urge adoption of the techniques for the potential short-term gain, but less triumphalism about doing so, that we may remain vigilant about our long-term social vision.


            ...But Achilles, weeping, sat down at a distance far from his companions, beside the whitening waves, his eyes fixed upon the boundless sea.

            by weeping for brunnhilde on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:46:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  nuclear weapons (4.00)
              thanks for your thoughtful response.

              your choice of nuclear weapons as an intrinsically evil tool is a really good point and I'm sorry I didn't think of it myself.

              The "theater of engagement" as you put it is in many ways a cesspool.  Oddly enough the image that came to me was of the boy hiding in the latrine when the camp children were being rounded up in Schindler's List.  What an unspeakably nasty thing to have to do.

              But I was proud of him for thinking of it.

              And he was not alone down there.

              I was proud of all of them for thinking of it and for having the courage and fortitude to be willing to hide in a latrine if necessary to achieve the greater good of staying alive.

              We joke about having to take showers after we have listened to Rushbo or watched Fox.  Sometimes it seems the stench will never come off.  It may make us sick to our stomachs to to think of holding our noses and jumping in again.  But we are in it to win it now.  We have to do what needs to be done.  That bumps right up against your "honorable vs expedient" point--that the tactics are dishonorable even when used in service of the truth.  Maybe I can't define honorable, but one of the definitions of holiness is "that which can come into contact with the profane and remain undefiled."  My diary on the spiritual aspects of all this will definitely have to wait for another day.

              Anyway, thanks for a meaningful exchange.  You have given me a lot of food for thought.

              Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:39:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  There's an answer (none)
              to your dilemma: we don't have to choose between unilateral disarmament and fighting them with their own evil weapons.

              The answer is alternative media. On a show like democracy now (or even Air America) we have the luxury of time to develop our arguments so we can be effective without disrespecting the audience's intelligence.

              The right has known this for years. Rush Limbaugh didn't make his career by learning how to shoehorn his ideas into a 5 second sound bite on someone else's show. Instead, right-wing foundations bought him his own show. We need to do the same, and we can, if we all support alternative media.

              If you're disgusted with the state of political discourse in this country (as i am) might I suggest a donation to Democracy Now?

        •  I agree... (none)
          BUT - we need to first get out of the ghetto we've been boxed into by these assholes.  Maybe then we can work towards creating the kind of world you describe.

          Its sad and I think its ridiculous to a certain extent - but clearly if we don't have the public on our side WHEN THEY SHOULD BE we need to work on message delivery before we consider ethics.

        •  There is something you may not realize, though. (none)
          By using symmetrical tactics, eventually, the people will get tired of these tactics on BOTH sides.  As long as they are effective for one side -- theirs -- we are at a disadvantage.  When every discussion becomes dumbed-down liar versus dumbed-down liar, the public is educated... against all dumbed-down liars.

          Short-term effect: this levels the playing field.
          Long-term effect: it will make people want better discussion.

          It's a good deal.

          And it doesn't matter what us hardcore political junkies want.  We have all made up our minds already.

          •  pants on fire (none)
            When every discussion becomes dumbed-down liar versus dumbed-down liar, the public is educated... against all dumbed-down liars.

            I don't think we should lie.  We don't need to lie.   "When Rs play fair, Democrats win."  That's why they HAVE to lie.

            We don't.  99 44/100% of the time, the truth and the facts are on our side.  Let's be clearer about this.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 06:57:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  see the post above (none)
          written by someone in the television news business.. a speaker must get their point across in 10 seconds or less. Television media, even more so than talk radio, is all about making clear, concise,  simple points in a very short amount of time.

          We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

          by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 10:02:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Wonderful post. (none)
      You said so eloquently what I had wanted to say in reply to this diary.  It should be said that the replies from the diarist were also excellent and made several good points.  

      Ironically, this is exactly the kind of exchange that we can never have on today's talking-head shows.  Sadly, it's exactly the kind of exchange we need.

    •  Whoa! These shows are NOT reasonable! (none)
      I don't think the main thrust of TBM's argument is that red state voters are a bunch of idiots that you have to talk down to in order to get your point across. Remember, the ideas he put forth are intended for use by Democrats being interviewed on right wing (or right wingish) blab-fests that infest the airwaves of FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, etc. On these shows the Republican hosts stack the deck against Democrats in favor of Republicans and in order for you to get you point across, you have to dumb it down no matter who is doing the listening. The time you are given on these shows is so short and the pace of them so frentic that it is practically impossible to steer the discussions that take place anywhere near the realm of 'reasonable discourse'.

      We can engage in reasonable discourse in other venues, such as out on the campaign trail. Being interviewed by Sean Inanity requires other approaches.

      •  True (none)
        Being a guest on these so called News programs is much different than being out on the campaign trail, or having a hour long interview, or being in a debate. Notice how effective Kerry was in the debates where he had a minute or more to answer a question with no interruption. But ordinarily, Kerry and many of the Dems have trouble on these TV News Programs getting their point across in 10 second or less or when given more time, constantly being interrupted. So it is important to keep repeating a clear, simple point that takes a short time to make.

        We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

        by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 10:06:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just for Fun (4.00)
    Always remember the rule of three's.

    Make you point with either three reasons or two reasons with the third statement being the conclusion.  Always very effective.

    It's nice that were finally learning that 2000 year old art of Rhetoric.

    Our virtues are usually only our vices in disguise. La Rochefoucauld

    by Parmenides on Mon May 09, 2005 at 10:54:04 PM PDT

  •  You should post that on Demspeak (none)
    Please post this over on Demspeak.  They had put together a Crossfire exercise to do at Meetups where they played the Lakoff video.  

    Just sign in and get emailed a password, you can then create your own blog entry.  I'll make sure it will have an ongoing link on the site.

    Hope to see you over there.  Thanks.

  •  kudos (none)
    this is a wonderful diary.  This is the first part in creating well-disciplined message machine at the DNC.  Teach people how to effectively communicate our ideas without falling in the traps laid out for them by the conservative media.  It's not that complicated-- reach consensus on policy, distribute short list of talking points to be driven home, make sure your representatives are well-versed, and set them loose.

    As I've written many times before, the DNC needs a war room (think Clinton campaign circa '92) that unifies the party's message by creating a rapid response on each and every issue.  No one goes on TV or radio without the day's message.

    This message needs to contradict the repub message by offering what seems like a constructive alternative, and that alternative needs to be easily explained.  

    Why this hasn't happened at the DNC yet is beyond me.  I  thought with Dean as the head we'd see substantial change by now......

    Thanks again.

  •  Sad to say... (none)'re probably right on the money with this.

    Its pathetic that we have to engage in this kind of sleazery, but when you say its the only way to communicate to the red voter I think you're 100% correct.

    Now if we could get our "leaders" in the Democratic party to pay attention we may be on the path to getting our message heard.  

    Trust me this keeps Repugs awake at night - what if Democrats figure out how to get their message heard.  Every time we're able to do that we win.

  •  Nuts and Bolts (none)
    Raw Mechanics.  No BS pontificating.  Excellent.  We need much, much , more of this !
  •  Great diary. It echoes what many of us have been (none)
    saying in other comments.  We need to fight fire with fire, and get off our high-horse.

    May I make one simple addition to your interview guide, though.  USE EMOTION.  The Republicans know this well.  They use OUTRAGE to great effect.  Somebody is getting something you aren't!  Somebody's getting a free ride!  The tax payer is being ripped off!  Gays are going to corrupt our children!  The institution of marriage is going to be destroyed!

    We need more exclamation points, dammit!  If our punch line doesn't have an exclamation point, we aren't thinking hard enough about it.

  •  Great diary! (none)
    Keep it simple!  Yes, because the average voter is an idiot!  Idiot, I repeat!  

    Weekend anecdote:  Go down to visit the (either apolitical or conservative) family and the discussion comes to our Governor, Pataki.  Possibly the most well-known Governor in the country.

    Well, not many people in NY like him so my family starts to bad mouth him and then ask: Is he a Republican or Democrat?  And my sister is a school teacher, for Chrissakes!  

    •  I can beat that (none)
      I know of a few college professors and a few doctors  who are right wingers. It happens. In a few of these cases, they are right wing religious folks along with being very well educated people. But they drink the Kool Aid.  I have  a friend and sibling who are both very well educated, professional people who are extremely educated but right wingers all the way due to believing Ronald Reagan was the way, the truth and converted them to Right Wing Republican.  The worst thing we can assume is that all Red voters are of the same background. They wingers either drink the Kool Aid or just believe Fox News or what their preacher or their selected Bible references tell them. And in the dozen people I am thinking of , all have at least a Masters Degree!!!

      We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

      by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 10:13:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Safer bet (none)
        I just assume everyone around me is right-wing.  Living in Ohio (when I'm not in Japan), it's a safe bet.

        Don't get the impression I'm meek, though.  I'm very vocal with my opinions in public.  I just assume we're living 1984 so I'll be ready when the ambush comes.

        My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

        by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:32:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's been said before.. (none)
    ..and it's been said better.  But this is the kind of diary we need to see more of.  Our Dem leaders in Congress need to read this and get coached in this kind of communication.  It's not bad, it's only a tool.  If we use it wisely then it is a good tool that serves the truth.

    "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

    by RAST on Tue May 10, 2005 at 06:59:04 AM PDT

  •  I can guarantee you (none)
    That the DNC does this type of training. I'm in PR and this is the kind of stuff we do for executives and our spokespersons all the time. I've done it myself, back when I was an on-camera spokesperson.

    Now I have no idea who does it for the DNC or the DCCC or anyone else, but they probably could use a refresher course. (And I'd gladly sell them my firm's services if we didn't have a policy against working for political parties.)

    You make some excellent points, TrueBlue, and you're pretty much on the mark here in terms of some of the things we would train our clients to do.

    But it's not like the Party hasn't thought of this before.

    Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life.

    by AggieDemocrat on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:24:03 AM PDT

    •  Fodder for junkies (none)
      You are probably right that this post is more like advice for newbies to PR, and stuff to get excited about for those who are on the receiving end of TV "journalism" and feel powerless.  Helps explain the annoyingly long list of comments that have no substance and just say "great post, best all day!"

      I think this advice (staying on message and controlling the topic, etc.) about TV appearances can apply to print interviews as well with a few tweaks but is for one purpose, getting a message out.  Sometimes you have to be on defense, if you are already in trouble and you have to quell a rumor, dissipate a bad news event, or respond to an attack that's doing damage.  In that case, I assume the advice would be a bit different.

      •  101 means introductory level, doesn't it? (none)
        But if it is so widely known, if it is taught at the DNC and DSCC, if it is so obvious to people with even a minimal background in PR, then how come so few high level Dem pundits consistently do it?  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I heard our 2004 presidential candidate do it.

        This diary is for people who have never thought about this stuff before.  Some of them as their activism takes flight are being interviewed on these hostile shows (has happened recently to a couple of people on this site) or want to try their hand at calling Rush or O'Liely or their local wingnut show.

        I certainly hope advisorjim gets some of the same coaching, because when his book is published he will have a big target on his back.

        This diary is labeled as a 101 level primer.  But until we see these tactics put into effect as consistently on our side as it is by the red team, I don't think it can be dismissed as unnecessary.

        You are right though that the advice in Interview Skills 202--a long form press conference, a friendly interview, playing defense over a bad event, preempting a pernicious rumor, or managing a story with legs, would be quite different.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:44:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd love to read 202 (none)
        •  that's why i said... (none)
          that they could probably use a refresher course.

          Also, one thing that helps the R's is their utter disregard for the truth and for clarity. They obfuscate, which is a hell of a lot easier to say in 10 second sound bites.

          Goes back to Kos's elevator speech. Usually, our positions are nuanced. You're right in that you have to distill it down for easy digestion.

          I don't know why we get handed our asses by R pundits. Makes me scream too.

          Blog this! Visit me at K Street Blues. It will change your life.

          by AggieDemocrat on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:56:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly! (none)
          You said it True Blue. If they know these things, why do we see little to no evidence of this?
          Good point!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amen

          We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism.-John Edwards

          by wishingwell on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 10:27:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Then they must be retarded (none)
      If the DNC does it, it isn't working because I see Democrats getting their asses handed to them all day long.  Seriously, your average president of the local Young Republican's club could run rings around most Democratic talking heads.
      •  they may offer classes or refresher courses..... (none)
        but they don't coordinate their message.  The first step in an effective communication strategy is consistency of message.  Then you can teach any bozo with a fourth grade education to keep repeating it over and over again.
  •  thanks for the affirmations (none)
    It is an honor to wake up and see this diary has been on the rec list all night.  More important, it is extremely exciting to see that so many people feel these ideas are on the right track and should be distributed widely throughout the party to Dem candidates and operatives.

    Someone suggested sending it to the DNC.  I'm pretty sure there are a fair number of DNC people who monitor us here, but I will post over there with a link.  We have enough members of Congress floating around that I'm sure they'll be aware of it too.  I think the word is out.

    I want to stress that I feel we're all part of this--even if we never go on Fox, or Rushbo or O'Liely.  This goes double for those of us who are especially cynical about the prospect of any effective communication through mass media outlets.  All of us, except for the most insular and isolated among us, have co-workers, relatives and random encounters with people who can only remember the red side of the argument.  GDub supporters are good at echoing their message during one-on-one encounters--at the diner, at church, at the pizza place, at the mall, at the supermarket.  Finding ways to present a simple, truthful, accessible, and memorable Blue message is a task for every Dem.  If party leadership gets on board from the top down, then it becomes our task to reinforce it from the grassroots/netroots up.

    All of us.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 07:32:19 AM PDT

  •  I know a guy (none)
    who is kick ass at talking points and staying on message.

    Two Americas, anyone?

    •  sorry..... (none)
      but if he thought he could be president he should have stuck around in the senate for another four years.  The rethugs paint us as weak on national security enough-- we don't need to hand them a nominee who has 1 term as a senator as his only experience.

      And this comes from a guy who loved Edwards.  I was very disappointed in his performance from the moment he got the vp slot up through the convention.  He disappeared.  I wish he had done better because I used to think he'd be president some day.  I doubt it now.

  •  In addition to the ten second rule... (none)
    Try to get something with a good beat to it (iambic pentameter, or whatever grooves with you).  It makes it easier to remember long term.  For example, "Ab stinence only sex education does n't work."  Explain how when you get the chance, but get that hook in at every opportunity.

    And the shorter the hook the better.  I'd recommend a target of 10-12 words if possible.  If you can distill it down to that level, you can get some thoughts that really stick in people's heads in there.  And that's only three seconds of your ten.  Start elaborating after the hook...

    Political Protest Techno by gee dub bee. Yes, techno. No, really.

    by geedubbee on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:27:15 AM PDT

  •  Excellent! (none)
    I have a little trick that I use, when dealing with conservatives.  

    I have a backgorund in customer service, and most of my jobs had to do with problem-solving or neutral arbitration.  So I put on my best professional, customer/public concerned face, and deal with the conversation in "professional" mode.  I have no problem discussing issues with conservatives once I take the emotion out of it.  

    Occasionaly I get into a situation where they try personalize the issue in an attempt to provoke an emotional response, such as using slurs, or accusations about personalities or try to slip in a non-relevant piece of information.  When that happens I ask them to explain the relevance to the original topic or issue.

  •  Yes (none)
    "The tactics themselves are only dishonorable when they are used in the service of lies."

    You should stay on the recomended list all day even if only for this statement alone in my opinion. One of the most effective social change activists of all time, in my opinion, was Saul Alinsky. In Rules for Radicals he makes a great case for justafiable pragmatism, arguing that many times the ends do justify the means if you keep your idealistic end goal in site with every tactic.

    Of course he also said you can't choose tactics that violate your ideals (for example threatening to kill a judge hoping it will lead him/her to rule to "protect the sanctity of life" - sound familiar).

    Look, if your idealism leads to to think that playing into the simplistic dumbed-down style of debate to which many Americans respond only furthers the problem, get real. Stepping out of this VRWC-born debate system will not change simple minds, it'll only hand them to the opposition. People go where they feel comfortable. We'd do better to debate their way for our policies, get the good guys into more positions of authority, and work to implement a nationwide policy of analytical and critical thinking education in hopes for the future.

    Great diary.

  •  Great diary (none)
    I hate to argue the substance of the message, but one thing I'd love for Democrats to emphasize in their Social Security talking points is the idea that we already have personal investment accounts; they're called IRA's, 401ks and non-retirement investment accounts.  I know that Democrats do mention it, but it should be part of the core message that gets repeated.

    Democrats want to keep private accounts private.

    Americans don't want a federal beauraucracy over-seeing their private investments.

    Americans already have add-on accounts; they're called IRAs.

  •  Outstandingly, Stunningly Good ... (none)
    This echoes what my father has been ranting on about for years, i.e., along these lines:

    "Republicans NEVER stop talking, no matter WHAT other people are trying to say or do over them, and NEVER back down from their points  ---AND they absolutely NEVER let their opponents 'frame' a goddamn thing FOR them, under ANY circumstances."  

    Dad's point, and he does have one (thank you, Ellen DeGeneres) is this:

    Why aren't Dems doing the SAME things, when election after election demonstrates that  this stuff WORKS WONDERS FOR THE GOP???

    Thank you so damned much for writing this.  It's concise, clear as a midsummer's day, assertive, smart, etc. -- this post has got it all!!!  This deserves at least four stars---and Gov. Dean should distribute it throughout our party!

  •  Don't have to like it to believe it (none)
    A simple lie will be believed by more people than a complex truth.

    This sounds:

    • so cynical
    • so snarky,
    • too simple.

    But change the word "people" to "Americans" and, god damn it, I hate to admit this about my fellow citizens and voters, it becomes so terribly, horribly true.
  •  asdf (none)
    To see it in action, I enjoy Mike Stark's calls to Hannity and Limbaugh.
  •  Great diary - and I have been seeing more and more (none)
    Dems do this on television and the radio. I have seen Sean Hannity get so frustrated that he keeps threathening to end the conversation - but he never does.  He just gets madder and madder that the liberals have finally caught onto his game.  He looks incredibly stupid when he does this, because he gets so emotional.  Not like taking candy from a baby anymore, is it Sean????

    I don't watch O'Reilly (can't turn off Keith!!!) so I don't know the success of this on his show recently. Anyone???

    "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention."

    by adigal on Tue May 10, 2005 at 09:57:49 AM PDT

  •  Yes! (none)
    Awesome! A fighting strategy!

    Ten Million thank yous!

    Read, study, memorize!

    spin positive... inspire change

    by missliberties on Tue May 10, 2005 at 10:02:22 AM PDT

  •  Mock Fox (none)
    This is really magnificent! You've really encapsulated what it is that Dems need to do to get their message out to persuadable voters. To do that, we need to be able to do TV.

    Democrats should set up "mock" pundit shows the way they do mock debates during the election cycle. It is so important that every Democrat and liberal activist who appears on TV knows how to communicate effectively.

    Addditionally, I might suggest, True Blue Maj. would make an excellent media consultant for the Democrats.

    If Republicans were half as good at running the country as they are running for office, we wouldn't mind so much that they won all the time.

    by tooblue on Tue May 10, 2005 at 10:15:51 AM PDT

    •  TBM as media consultant to the Democrats! (none)
      from your mouth to the Chairman's ear!  ROFL!

      Seriously, my hands are full.  But I do wish there was some way I could be more directly involved--that these hours at the keyboard could be translated into something that would make a significant difference.

      I think a lot of us feel the same way.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:08:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I will go over this several more times (none)
    Thank you for your efforts putting this together!!!!!
  •  Responding to a Wingnut Liar: (none)
    "You know, (insert name of wingnut liar), repeating your LIE over and over doesn't make your LIE true.  Its still a LIE.  You can call the sky red all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that its blue.  You can repeat your LIE all you want, but that doesn't make your LIE true."

    Hell, it even has rhyme.

  •  Well done but,.......tone it down (none)
    Good points on how to communicate but we do not need to hear this............

    "Dems do badly on these shows for the same reason we have done badly in recent elections.  We persist in thinking the public discourse/campaign trail/pundit shows have something to do with reasoned argument.  We naively believe in spite of all the contrary evidence that Joe Redvoter makes up his mind based on a critical analysis of facts.  That has not been true for a very long time, if it was ever true".

    Dems have done badly partly because Red and Purple voters believe that Dems think they are stupid.  This language confirms that for any that read it or similar sentiments anywhere else.

    I believe that people are very smart and possess much keener insight than given credit for by either party.  While these voters are ignorant on the finer points of most issues, so are most Senators.  There is simply to much to know.  However, we are marketed to from birth to grave and have developed an ENORMOUSLY strong and sensitive BS detector.  Communicate yes, condescend, no.  Never lie or even twist facts and figures in a misleading way to make your point.

    Equal Treatment

    •  I wish I had your optimism (none)
      . . . but every time I make a prediction, I bet against the American people being smart.  And my track record with this method has been so damn accurate I detest being correct nowadays.

      My taxes support the troops, not a yellow sticker.

      by Dragonchild on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:37:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! It's assertiveness training's 1st lesson (none)
    I got a little assertiveness training long ago, and though maybe I've not been good at it, I do recall that the primary goal in assertiveness is, once you know what to do, you make the same point using the same phrasing for as long as it takes for the other to give up.

    I saw Lani Guinier do this long ago in a discussion, perhaps on Nightline, perhaps on the (then) McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. The person on the other side of the argument kept trying to draw Guinier into side arguments and details, all possibly true but those that didn't undermine her main point. Guinier simply parried the host's questions and at the end of each of her answers, she repeated her point. I found it highly effective (though I admit I forget the topic of the debate!).

    Sample conversation:

    "Want to hang out with us after the show?" "No, thank you, I am tired and I need to get some sleep." "But you said you were tired last week!" "That may be, but I'm also tired now and I need to get some sleep." "But your friend will be there." "Yes, but I am tired and I need to get some sleep." etc., etc.

    Any other answer, like, "My friend will be there? I'd love to see my friend, but gee, I'm really tired." can be more easily exploited/turned to the requester's advantage. Telemarketers are trained to notice this kind of answer and use it to their advantage.

    [personal note to self: it helps then to actually go to bed once home]

    (My dKos Public Email is altered. Swap "ve-riz-on" and "ace-pumpk-in", then remove dashes to email me.)

    by Ace Pumpkin on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:34:17 AM PDT

  •  This is a frickin' great observation: (none)
    "A simple lie will be believed by more people than a complex truth."

    "I feel your scorn and I accept it." - Jon Stewart

    by starkness on Tue May 10, 2005 at 12:04:36 PM PDT

  •  Credit where it's due. (none)
    This is the best, most practical diary I have read here, to date. This is something I intend to save, and reflect at length on in the near future. I've considered the way our opponents manipulate the language of debates. This is the best effort I've encountered to date to codify it.
  •  Truly Excellent (none)
    Agreed that the diary is totally great. I just want to echo some others' points that this is a site specific strategy.  This is brilliant for a talk show or any similar venue where there is hostility and or gamesmanship.  But it is not the way to proceed when you are talking directly to individuals who you want to influence.  Nor can it be the only way we talk - MLK was always on message, but he did not merely repeat the message.  He also found ways to inspire -
    Congratulations on a Great Diary
  •  Thanks (none)
    I could be sarcastic and say "Next time I'm on Fox News -- because as an average citizen I am invited so often -- I'll remember to follow your guidelines."  However, I won't say that (well, I actually just did) because there are so many people (such as my neocon brother) who follow the Hannity style of debate. Tips like this work well even in these day-to-day political discussions.

    Signature goes here.

    by lalawguy on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:27:34 PM PDT

    •  yes that is the underlying idea (none)
      Yes, your conversations with your neocon brother are your small part of the larger effort.

      Most of us face a variety of small-scale "hostile interview" sessions in day to day life.

      We can all work on refining the message, making it quickly and simply, and sticking to it regardless of the infuriating methods the other side uses to derail us.  That goes for whether the person on the other side of the argument is your neocon relative or Sean Hannity.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 10, 2005 at 08:55:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the revolution will not be televised (none)
    This is very good advice, but most of us will never appear on Bill O'Reilly, Hard Talk, etc., and very few of us will ever even get on the air with Rush.  

    Does that mean we can't be part of this struggle against media manipulation?  Not at all!  We are the most important part of the struggle.

    While a few of us will fight for truth on air, the struggle against corporate right-wing media will be fought and won off the air.  What each of us can do is wag an all-out campaign to discredit them by constantly calling them on their BS.  Start by signing up with media watch groups like:


    Media Matters


    All three have email alerts, and I think every Kossack should all sign up for all three.  Becoming more and more informed is the first step.  The next is to write letters of complaint for each and every mis-step they make.  

    But don't stop at that!  The most important tactic, in my opinion, is to use the resources provided by these groups to spread information to all our friends, relatives, co-workers, etc., so that gradually the word spreads that these "journalists" are not journalists at all and that they encode a very specific propaganda message in their "reporting" and their "fair and balanced" punditry.

    This understanding needs to spread beyond Kossack circles, and become a matter of commonsense.  This is something "news" agencies fear, by the way, because their reputation is literally one of their most valuable assets.  If that is threatened they get worried.  

    The above listed media watchgroups provide the information to do exactly this by painstakingly documenting and analyzing examples of journalistic misfeasance (and malfeasance).  

    Get the facts.  Use them.

    Finally, it is especially useful to subscribe to some sort of service which is devoted to publicizing under-reported stories (from foreign press, etc.), and to spread these around as well so that more and more people can be made aware of the fact that there is a lot more news out there that is simply being ignored.  

    One such service, which I subscribe to, and which sends daily email digests is:

    Information Clearing House

    "Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do." -Voltaire

    by Nate Roberts on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:35:07 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary! (none)
    And now that you've solved that problem (and I really believe your suggestion does that), might I suggest you put your solving skills to the inevitable problem that will occur should Democrats do this (and to a certain extent they already do): they'll stop inviting the ones that do well in favor of ones that don't do as well.


    by Doug in SF on Tue May 10, 2005 at 02:48:20 PM PDT

    •  This isn't entirely true (none)
      There are really two kinds of "biased" talking heads.  First are the Brit Humes, who have a pro-GOP agenda and are actively furthering it.  Then there are the Chris Matthewses, who, I believe, simply don't respect Democrats because they fail to employ these devices.  I believe that many beltway pundits would give the Dems respect if they started to earn it.
    •  Hate to be so negative (none)
      But Doug's right. Once you've figured out how to get your point across in 10 seconds, they're going to take your 10 seconds away.

      This happens all the time. Dems who do an effective job making their point don't get called back.

      There's a reason why the dem spokespersons you see on tv are so consistently ineffective: they know being too good at their jobs means an end to their cushy careers as cable news talking heads.

      Take Hannity and Colmes (please) - who the hell is Alan Colmes? He's someone who has been chosen precisely because he's ineffective. He knows that if he scores too many points for our side, he's out of a job. The Onion put it best with a story they had a few months back: "Alan Colmes Loses Argument to 10 Year Old Nephew".

      Just so i don't end on a negative note: let's build our own media so we decide who gets asked back.

  •  liberty control pioneer (none)
    children vision crusade humane light. citizen empowerment hard work. family incentive common sense compete confident conflict control dream
    duty fair freedom help humane initiative commitment.

    did i do it right?

  •  I'd like to add one thought. (none)
    Great diary; an excellent exposition on tactics for overcoming the deception mechanisms of the wingnut propaganda machine.

    To add one thought. You remark;

    We have yet to determine whether a simple truth will be believed by more people than a simple lie.

    I suggest that lies in general have at least one major advantage over truths in a tactical sense. This is that where the truth is the truth, regardless whether it's pleasant or not, lies can always be manufactured and specifically tailored to take advantage of peoples sensitivities and vulnerabilities; adjusted to exploit their fears and desires and tuned to what they want to believe.

    This is part of why so many otherwise talentless hacks are getting into the business of bullshitting. Lies are easier to peddle than Truths.

    Defeat the sound-bite.

    by sbj on Tue May 10, 2005 at 04:55:13 PM PDT

    •  ah but at least if you are telling the truth (none)
      you  dont  have to  practise "looking sincere"  :)

      seriously.  people are not robots. it  gives  heart to what you say to speak  truth.

      •  Yes! Learning how to display (none)
        the appropriate emotion, (sincerity, compassion, contrition, abhorrence, deep understanding), is the most fundamental skill required by every con-man, every sociopath, and every politician waging a campaign.

        I agree with you that people, (in our natural state), are not robots. The problem is that, just like in cults or in very dogmatic religious or business circles, there are well defined and well engineered indoctrination programs designed specifically to undermine the emotional and cognitive independence of members in a way that transforms them into basically obedient, loyal servants. In short, to get them to behave like robots. And these thought reform (brainwashing) techniques work easily and well.

        It's a big reason why the right wing propaganda machine is so effective, and it's a big reason why the techniques TrueBlueMajority outlines in his/her excellent diary are necessary in the first place.

        It is, after all the viewers and listeners and readers of media news and info who need to be deprogrammed so they'll stop believeing the lies so easily. No one will ever transform vicious maniacs like Hannity or Limbaugh or Scarborough or Dobson into rational human beings who behave with respect toward their fellow man. No. it's the audience that needs the benefit of TrueBlue's tactics in order to be deprogrammed; returned from their state of robotic conditioning to a state of full cognitive and psychological autonomy.

        And a key element to add to this process of "cognitive recovery" is to help people return to the idea that truth is important, that "reality based" thinking has distinct and powerful benefits; that when we find ourselves just believing the people who are telling us what we want to believe that we are always setting ourselves up for certain harm. Combine this with TrueBlueMajority's tactics, and we can really make tremendous progress on all fronts.

        Blah blah blah. I didn't mean to get carried away with so many words, but this all is an important area of thought for me.

        Defeat the sound-bite.

        by sbj on Wed May 11, 2005 at 10:16:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All true (none)
    but I would prefer the following approach to an interview of faux

    Simply repeat "moo cow moo cow moooooooo cow moooooooooooo" to every question.

    Let the Democratic Reformation Begin

    by Pounder on Tue May 10, 2005 at 05:01:43 PM PDT

  •  It's ruthless and a little scary (none)
    but what the hell, may as well give it a shot.
  •  Fantastic! (none)
    And overdue - it's about time we stopped being pissed about how screwed up Fox News is, and started using their own tactics against them.  Recommended!
  •  Let's Do The Time Warp! (none)
    Hey TrueBlueMajority, it's still a good diary, even a whole month after it was written!

    Daily Kos. Daily K-os. Daily Chaos. Oh my God!

    by Addison on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:07:58 PM PDT

  •  Is this a re-post? (none)
    This seems like something I read word for word about a month or two ago.

    War is hell. Execute Order 66.

    by raymundo on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:10:50 PM PDT

  •  wordsof yester-year... (none)
    "Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What I tell you three times is true."

    Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark...

    seemed appropriate.


    "Disassembling" is what we did to Iraq. To "dissemble" is to lie with the intent to deceive. - Jon Stewart, loosely quoted

    by dukeraoul on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:13:42 PM PDT

  •  Another way to get back on point (none)
    is the old horse-face, Ken Mehlman method.

    "I respectfully disagree.." and then go to the point again.

  •  The 3 takeaways (none)
    This is excellent, and all of it very important, but 3 points stand out:

    1. Don't stop talking just because someone else interrupts -- Dems do that all the time. They are too polite. Keep talking, and raise your voice a notch to be heard!!!!

    2. Don't feel obliged to answer the question asked; answer the question you wanted them to ask.  Duh.

    Those are probably the most important, but I also liked this one:

    3) When they try to silence you, call them out on it.  Make them the bully. Americans like underdogs, so get the viewers on your side by painting the host as the bully.  

    Great diary!

    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:15:27 PM PDT

  •  In a very long while (none)
    best diary I have read, this is.
  •  Fixation with cable news (none)
    The LA Times had a terrific article today about the media's obsession with the latest CNN makeover.

    It pointed out that over 1 million people watch the 11 pm late news on the three local network stations night, whereas the total viewership of all 3 cable news outlets totals not much more than the low hundred thousands.

    He said that Fox, CNN, & MSNBC have influence mainly because local newrooms have them on all day, giving them journalists a much higher sense of their importance than what they actually have.

  •  Thank you kos (none)
    This diary exemplifies what is best about this community.

    Thanks for reposting it, today.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:35:14 PM PDT

  •  Brilliant (none)
    That's all I have to say. Just, brilliant. Well, okay, one more thing- can we start a boot camp for progressives using this?
  •  I need to add this (none)
    to my Hot List.

    But I forgot how.

    Help appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

    •  Just click the plus sign icon (none)
      preceding an article's title. The page will refresh with a minus sign icon. If you now check your Hotlist, you'll see a link to the article.

      Conversely, clicking the minus sign removes it from your Hotlist.

  •  This reminds me (none)
    of a email conversation I had with someone awhile ago.

    It was obvious I was against this US occupation in Iraq and it was becoming obvious this guy approved.

    He replied with a "historically, wars....blah...unfortunate civilian deaths....blah...blah...."

    I realized RIGHT AWAY..what he was doing.  Trying to add this "illegal occupation" with such wars as WWII.  Granted, I hate wars.  But, I saw the US entrance into WWII as justified.

    This has happened often.  You begin the whole, "illegal occupation" with Iraqi civilian deaths and the possible wing nut tries to divert with, "we don't know the exact number of civilian casualties..." and "historically, wars....."

    I regained my ground, and reminded him that this is indeed a US occupation that Iraq had no WMDs and more importantly, did NOT attack us.

    He ended the discussion.  Right away.  Has never touched upon the subject after.  I also believe the link I provied him to Juan Cole's site helped.  

    As was said, we can't allow whoever to divert us.  We must stay Right.ON.Target.

    And we can.  We speak the truth.  And we KNOW this.  

    Be compassionate as your Creator is compassionate - Jesus

    by smugbug on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 09:58:23 PM PDT

  •  Dkosopedia, please (none)
    Useful information on progressive political argument.
  •  This is one of the great diaries of all time! (none)
    Great summary!
    You should run a training bootcamp or something
  •  Great diary (none)
    I am bookmarking this to come back and study.

    (As I also did with "Verbal Self-Defense for Dems": )

  •  Well done (none)
    Let me add the following comments:

    1. Areas hostile towards us are fertile ground for conversion.  In deep blue areas we hit the point of diminishing returns.  That's why evangelicals go to non-Christian areas to convert people.  We'll get MORE converts if we concentrate on the red areas and red media like Fox.

    2. Don't fall into the trap of assumptions.  People often throw things out which are taken for granted as common knowledge.  Challenge it!  When they say...

    Bush is protecting you from terrorism.

    Respond with...

    He is?  That's the first I've heard of it!  What has he done to protect me from terrorism?  I can't think of a single thing!

    The force them to justify his failed war.

    If they say...

    Bush is a good Christian.

    Reply with...

    If he's such a good Christian then why is he having people tortured?

    On patriotism...

    Republicans constantly slander war heroes.  How is that patriotic?

    On supporting the troops...

    I think Bush should stop cutting veteran's benefits.


  •  Great Diary (none)
    This diary should be required reading for all Democratic spokespersons.  
  •  Its the medium, not the audience.... (none)
     I feel it is counterproductive to assume the red/purple viewers are unable to comprehend complex arguments. Television news format in general and pundit shows to a greater degree make it difficult to make complex arguments effectively. The time is just not there to flesh out a truly thorough rebuttal, therefore we must resort to this more effective form of talking point usage. I agree with the heart of the post, but assuming people are too stupid to understand is just plain arrogant. Its the medium thats stupid, not the viewer.
  •  Calling for talking heads in DSM campaign (none)
    This is an excellent diary.

    At we expect the DSM story to get even more traction after the Presidential press conference today. We have one spokesman now, but we'd like to compile a list of Kossacks who could appear on local TV or radio for interviews in case we get calls from local media.  Anybody wish to volunteer?

    We'd like to identify people who fully understand DSM and related issues, and have kept up with the news coverage in the US, and who feel confident that they could enunciate the most basic points that need to be conveyed.  Sooner or later we will put together talking points to help in such appearances. Local interviews, of course, are very unlikely to be confrontational in the way that TrueBlueMajority is talking about. On the other hand, if you're a relative newcomer to the DSM story, you might find it hard to catch up to where everyone else is. We're looking for people who know the issue backwards and forwards.

    We'd also like to have at least one person on call for every major city in the US.

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Epictetus

    by smintheus on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 10:42:26 PM PDT

  •  Ad Hominem (none)
    And don't forget Ad Hominem. I got so pissed to see the not-so-swift boat veterans as proxie name callers, and not one Dem would state the OOOH so friggin' obvious fact: BUSH IS CREEPY!!!

    Have a beer with the guy? HELL NO! He reminds me of your typical found-Jesus-got-sober brother-in-law who lives with his parents and gives you Bible tracts about end-times and sex perversion and keeps trying to coax you down to the basement to look at his weapons.

    Repeat after me: BUSH IS CREEPY!!!

  •  i appologize....... (none)
    .....if i am remiss in not having read all of the responses to this, i truly need to appologize.

    in other words, i truly need to appologize.

    however, i did read through the first 20-30 responses and after having read that, i must say this:  i can't believe how it has become not only allowable but necessary to become condecending to THE PEOPLE.

    i had thought that it would not come to this, but, alas, it has.

    in order to accomplish the goals of freedom and human dignity we must now sink to the level of the pirates who have stolen same from us?

    i don't know whether to be ashamed of the charlaitans who have coopted our democracy or to be embarassed that we need to sink to their level of argument.

    i wish i could give the "unwashed masses" more credit.

    unfortunately, that credit is often not due.

    we can become greater if we give ourselves a chance.  don't give up on the red and purple voter's ability to comprehend a sustained argument.

    my personal experience has not proven this to be true, but i hold out hope.

    i'm not yet willing to play by their rules.


    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ---Benjamin Franklin

    by djesno on Tue Jun 07, 2005 at 11:43:44 PM PDT

    •  This concern was hashed through, (none)
      though not fully resolved, in this interestign subthread above :

      We joke about having to take showers after we have listened to Rushbo or watched Fox.  Sometimes it seems the stench will never come off.  It may make us sick to our stomachs to to think of holding our noses and jumping in again.  But we are in it to win it now.  We have to do what needs to be done.  That bumps right up against your "honorable vs expedient" point--that the tactics are dishonorable even when used in service of the truth.  Maybe I can't define honorable, but one of the definitions of holiness is "that which can come into contact with the profane and remain undefiled."  My diary on the spiritual aspects of all this will definitely have to wait for another day.

      Anyway, thanks for a meaningful exchange.  You have given me a lot of food for thought.

      I had to destroy my tinfoil hat because it was beaming coded messages into my brain.

      by stevelu on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 09:43:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in 1995 (none)
    at a meeting of the Friend's Committee for National Legislation, they were telling us to have a ten second sound-bite and no matter what the question was, to only say the sound-bite.  Not only that, if more time was allotted, only repeat, maybe in other words, the ten second sound-bite because once it went to the editor, they would cut it to ten seconds or less and completely corrupt your intended commented.  Pith Rules.
  •  tag for later use.. (none)

    I am a man without a Nation, without a voice... BushsAmerica

    by Ioo on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 02:19:02 AM PDT

  •  It worked in the UK (none)
    back in 1997, against a hostile press, we on the Left were depressed at how dumb all Labour spokespeople sounded in the run-up to the election. Simplistic sound-bites, repeated endlessly, and regardless of the question. One android candidate actually sat and repeated the "five key pledges" like a mantra. So we sneered and despaired at the cheapening of debate.

    Then Labour beat the Conservatives with a 179-seat majority and we shut the hell up.

    So I agree entirely with this diary, except I'd say that, if you're NOT in hostile territory, don't act too defensive or unresponsive. It looked untrustworthy in '97 when candidates went into aggressive stuck-record mode when a BBC presenter was trying to ask a reasonable question. OK, so only one point from the interview will stick when it's edited or discussed afterwards, but getting the tone wrong means that the one point that emerges may not be your point - even if that's all you said! - but that candidate X was rude, or evasive, or an asshole. If someone's actually giving you a bit of slack, by all means take it, any chance to get a bit of supplementary reasoning into an interview benefits us all in the long run.

    However, we don't have anything quite like Fox News in Britain's broadcast media yet. (The press is another matter.) So this diary looks like excellent strategy.

    The Final Solution - it's political incorrectness gone mad

    by Doctor Devlin on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 02:31:46 AM PDT

    •  On "shutting the hell up" (none)
      You UK labor guys are a lot smarter than the US dems.

      Here we have the greatest Presidential campaigner and campaign staff EVER in Clinton in 92 and 96 and the US dems didn't use them at all in 2000 and used a few of them too late to make a difference in 2004.

      We are sooo stoooopid.

      Freedom does not march.

      by ex republican on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 06:14:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary--exactly right. (none)
    And in keeping with principles listed--post it here three times a day for the next six months!  Except that would break dkos rules, unfortunately.

    ...the White House will be adorned by a downright moron...H.L. Mencken

    by bibble on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 05:53:51 AM PDT

  •  must agree (none)
    this is simply the best diary I've read in ages.

    Incredibly well done and useful!

  •  I agree, reluctantly. (none)
    What we're talking about is basic marketing tactics that have been used against the American television viewing, radio listening and magazine reading public for years.
    The effectiveness is a matter of record and all of us as consumers have suffered by way of lower quality products, fixed pricing, limited choices, etc.

    The Republican's embrace of these methods goes hand and glove with their cozy relationship with big business. You only need to recall the number of times you have seen Bush on TV in front of a backdrop emblazoned with the message or talking point that is the subject of his speech to see the parallel with the corporate logo displayed at company sponsored events.

    I'm concerned about employing the same tactic because it lends itself so easily to abuse. But, there is no denying its effectiveness. I just hope that people who read this and other progressive blogs are as watchful of misuse by over zealous Dems as we are of Neocons.

  •  The best and most comprehensive (none)
    analysis of the current state of the political media environment and the strategies and tactics needed to overcome it's well laid traps and pitfalls.

    Defeat the sound-bite.

    by sbj on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 07:25:02 AM PDT

  •  recommended! (none)

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 09:14:33 AM PDT

  •  Another technique is to lock them into terms (none)
    Take all the torture incidents.

    The first incident was dismissed by Fox as childish games and Dems tried to argue it wasn't.

    Imagine instead if we had asked them to outline punishment for "real" torture violations.  

    Imagine if after Scott McClellan had railed against Newsweek for sullying America's image, someone had asked him what the punishment should be if someone HAD actually flushed the Koran.  He would have been backed into a corner.  Either he would have to admit doing so was actually no big deal (denying him the ability to berate Newsweek for suggesting it) or he would have to call for punishment against those committing the act (and the resultant trial and publicity).  

    I think this tactic would reduce their ability to play this game and/or expose their hypocrisy to a wider audience.  Either one of which is a victory in my book.

  •  Excellent Post! (none)
    The items mentioned here are exactly what conservatives do in debates and in interviews! Kudos on your hard work and excellent post.

    This past January one of my classes had a talk given by Bay Buchanan (Pat's sister). She spent most of her time talking about how to win debates (for her examples, she used abortion).  One of the key things she said was to never worry about answering the question.  She said what was important was that you have a few key points and that you repeat those over and over again.

    When I first heard this, I must admit I was a bit shocked.  But now I notice this happening constantly whenever I watch interviews with conservatives.

  •  GREAT Diary! (none)
    Thanks for this terrific diary. There is so much good info in it.

    The real question is: how do we get our candidates to start using these interview skills?

    So often I just cringe when one of our own starts refuting things and getting all complex.Kerry was/is the worst. But many others try to give too much info and get marginalized by the interviewer.

  •  "With all due respect ..." (none)
    A fabulous way to precede a verbal smackdown.

    Also, if you're talking to the lowest common denominator, use the lowest common denomination. They're taking your hard-earned money -- again!

    As in:

    "With all due respect, only Wall Street stockbrokers win this one. Everyone else loses."

    "With all due respect, this trillion-dollar fat cat giveaway is a new low, even for the drunken sailors in Washington."

    "With all due respect, we had a private account system. It's why we needed Social Security."

    "With all due respect, Social Security means security. The Bush plan is all about risk."

    Feel free to sing along.  


    It's the Stupidity, Stupid!

    by Q Dog on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 12:09:16 PM PDT

  •  I bagged one the other day... (none)

    "You can't awaken a man who pretends to be asleep."-Navajo saying.

    by quartzite on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 12:58:01 PM PDT

  •  thanks kos (none)
    I was surprised to find this had been frontpaged today and is back on the rec list.  thanks, kos.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 01:15:18 PM PDT

  •  Interview Skills Report Card (none)
    Interview Skills Report Card

    Paul Begala - solid A
    Chris Dodd - on Dean issue: F; overall: C

    One of the best appearances I've seen from Begala lately.

    He stayed on message:

    • he got it in several times that Dean's "white Christian" comment was the truth.

    • everytime they criticized Dean for something specific (name calling, flamethrowing) Begala pointed out an example of Rs saying something worse and getting no firestorm of criticism.

    • Your moment of Zen: at one point the interviewer said well, you're talking about content--as if talking about content was the last thing she expected, which was probably true.

    • Not only did Begala make our own points well, he even had Bay Buchanan practically conceding OUR point that most White Christians vote Republican!

    • Then Bay Buchanan compared Dean to Gingrich--GOOD!  Gingrich snatched the Senate out from under the Dems noses in 1994.  Comparisons to Gingrich are the best possible proof that Rpugs are worried that we have torn a page out of their playbook.

    They threw him a softball about Howard and all Dodd said was Dean should have chosen better words.  What, pray tell, were those better words, Chris?  Share them with the class!  Dodd missed several opportunities to restate the truth underlying Dean's statement.

    But the interview in general was pretty good because he basically said: there are more important things to talk about and here they are.  Then he made a series of points about other key Dem issues.  It was unfocused and rambling and Joe Redvoter stopped listening after the first run on sentence, but it is an acceptable strategy when being interviewed about something you find indefensible--he managed to make the points he wanted to make regardless of the question.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 01:57:27 PM PDT

  •  I have cut and pasted your stuff to several (none)
    newsgroups in Seattle.

    wonder if my guid will help see the messages?

    for some reason the local 36th Dem news group is super secret - ya know, cuz we are grassroots, but secretive cuz our stuff is all kinds of manahttan project important.



  •  wait a second. (none)
    #  These personal risk accounts proposed by the Republicans endanger the future financial security of workers in their 30s.

    How so?  Will Savings accounts and 401ks be outlawed?  Will all extra money saved be required to be depoisti in one of these accounts?  Workers in their 30s need to wake up and realize the giovernment isn't there to baby them.

    # Workers in their 20s and 30s should not gamble their future on these Republican-sponsored personal risk accounts.

    Why not?  We take gambles all the time.  gambling at age 50 is stupid.  Gambling at age 22 is not.

    # Younger workers want a system of guaranteed benefits, they will not take a chance on these personal risk accounts the Republicans are pushing on everyone.

    Guaranteed?  So what we have now is guaranteed?  Great.  How much will I get?  Will it be at age 65?  No wait, Age 70?  Maybe Age 72.

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