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Barack Obama ran the best-organized and best-framed presidential campaign in history. How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so badly on health care?

And bad it is: The public option may well be gone. Neither Obama himself nor Senior Advisor David Axelrod even mentioned the public option in their pleas to the nation last Sunday (August 16, 2009). Secretary Sibelius even said it was “not essential.” Cass Sunstein’s co-author, Richard Thaler, in the Sunday NY Times (August 16, 2009, p. BU 4) called it “neither necessary nor sufficient.” There has been a major drop in support for the president throughout the country, with angry mobs disrupting town halls and the right wing airing its views with vehemence nonstop on radio and tv all day every day. As the NY Times reports, Organizing for America (the old Obama campaign network) can’t even get its own troops out to work for the President’s proposal.

What has been going wrong?

t’s not too late to turn things around, but we must first understand why the administration is getting beat at the moment.

The answer is simple and unfortunate: The president put both the conceptual framing and the messaging for his health care plan in the hands of policy wonks. This led to twin disasters.

The PolicyList Disaster

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Howard Dean was right when he said that you can’t get health care reform without a public alternative to the insurance companies. Institutions matter. The list of what needs reform makes sense under one conceptual umbrella. It is a public alternative that unifies the long list of needed reforms:  coverage for the uninsured, cost control, no preconditions, no denial of care, keeping care when you change jobs or get sick, equal treatment for women, exorbitant deductibles, no lifetime caps, and on and on. It’s a long list. But one idea, properly articulated, takes care of the list: An American Plan guarantees affordable care for all Americans. Simple. But not for policy wonks.

The policymakers focus on the list, not the unifying idea. So Obama’s and Axelrod’s statements last Sunday were just the lists without the unifying institution. And without a powerful institution, the insurance companies will just whittle away at enforcement of any such list, and a future Republican administration will just get rid of the regulators, reassigning them or eliminating their jobs.

Why do policymakers think this way?

One: The reality of how Congress is lobbied. Legislators are lobbied to be against particular features, depending on their constituencies.  Blue Dogs are pressured by the right’s communication system operating in their districts. Congressional leaders have a challenge: Keep the eye of centrists and Blue Dogs on the central idea, despite the pressures of right-wing communications and lobbyists’ contributions.

Two: In classical logic, Leibniz’ Law takes an entity as being just a collection of properties. As if you were no more than eyes, legs, arms, and so on, taken separately. Without a public institution turning a unifying idea into a powerful reality, health care becomes just a collection of reforms to be attacked, undermined, and gotten around year after year.

Three: Current budget-making assumptions. Health is actually systematic in character. Health is implicated in just about all aspects of our culture: agriculture, the food industry, advertising, education, business, the distribution of wealth, sports, and so on. Keeping it as a line item — what figure do you put down on the following lines — misses the systemic nature of health. The image of Budget Director Peter Orszag running constantly in and out of Senator Max Baucus’ office shows how the systemic nature of health has been turned into a list of items and costs. Without a sense of the whole, and an institution responsible for it, health will be line-itemed to death.

Obama had the right idea with the “recovery” package. The economy is not just about banking. It is about public works, education, health, energy, and a lot more. It is systemic. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The PolicySpeak Disaster

PolicySpeak is the principle that: If you just tell people the policy facts, they will reason to the right conclusion and support the policy wholeheartedly.

PolicySpeak is the principle behind the President’s new Reality Check Website.  To my knowledge, the Reality Check Website, has not had a reality check. That is, the administration has not hired a first-class cognitive psychologist to take subjects who have been convinced by right-wing myths and lies, have them read the Reality Check website, and see if the Reality Check website has changed their minds a couple of days or a week later. I have my doubts, but do the test.

To many liberals, PolicySpeak sounds like the high road: a rational, public discussion in the best tradition of liberal democracy. Convince the populace rationally on the objective policy merits. Give the facts and figures. Assume self-interest as the motivator of rational choice. Convince people by the logic of the policymakers that the policy is in their interest
But to a cognitive scientist or neuroscientist, this sounds nuts. The view of human reason and language behind PolicySpeak is just false. Certainly reason should be used. It’s just that you should use real reason, the way people really think. Certainly the truth should be told. It’s just that it should be told so it makes sense to people, resonates with them, and inspires them to act. Certainly new media should be used. It’s just that a system of communications should be constructed and used effectively.

I believe that what went wrong is (a) the choice of PolicySpeak and (b) the decision to depend on the campaign apparatus (blogs, Town Hall meetings, presidential appearances, grassroots support) instead of setting up an adequate communications system.

What Now?

It is not too late.  The statistic I’ve heard is that over 80% of citizens want a public plan, but the right wing’s framing has been overwhelming public debate, taking advantage of the right’s communication system and framing prowess.
The administration has dug itself (and the country) into a hole.  At the very least, the old mistakes can be avoided, a clear and powerful narrative is still available and true, and some powerful, memorable, and accurate language should be substituted for PolicySpeak, or at least added and repeated by spokespeople nationwide.

The narrative is simple:

Insurance company plans have failed to care for our people. They profit from denying care. Americans care about one another. An American plan is both the moral and practical alternative to provide care for our people.

The insurance companies are doing their worst, spreading lies in an attempt to maintain their profits and keep Americans from getting the care they so desperately need. You, our citizens, must be the heroes. Stand up, and speak up, for an American plan.


As for language, the term “public option” is boring. Yes, it is public, and yes, it is an option, but it does not get to the moral and inspiring idea. Call it the American Plan, because that’s what it really is.

The American Plan. Health care is a patriotic issue. It is what your countrymen are engaged in because Americans care about each other. The right wing understands this well. It’s got conservative veterans at Town Hall meeting shouting things like, “I fought for this country in Vietnam, and I’m fight for it here.” Progressives should be stressing the patriotic nature of having our nation guaranteeing care for our people.

A Health Care Emergency. Americans are suffering and dying because of the failure of insurance company health care. 50 million have no insurance at all, and millions of those who do are denied necessary care or lose their insurance. We can’t wait any longer. It’s an emergency. We have to act now to end the suffering and death.

Doctor-Patient care. This is what the public plan is really about. Call it that. You have said it, buried in PolicySpeak. Use the slogan. Repeat it. Have every spokesperson repeat it.

Coverage is not care. You think you’re insured. You very well may not be, because insurance companies make money by denying you care.

Deny you care… Use the words. That’s what all the paperwork and administrative costs of insurance companies are about – denying you care if they can.
Insurance company profit-based plans. The bottom line is the bottom line for insurance companies. Say it.

Private Taxation. Insurance companies have the power to tax and they tax the public mightily. When 20% - 30% of payments do not go to health care, but to denying care and profiting from it, that constitutes a tax on the 96% of voters that have health care. But the tax does not go to benefit those who are taxed; it benefits managers and investors. And the people taxed have no representation. Insurance company health care is a huge example of taxation without representation. And you can’t vote out the people who have taxed you. The American Plan offers an alternative to private taxation.

Is it time for progressive tea parties at insurance company offices?

Doctors care; insurance companies don’t. A public plan aims to put care back into the hands of doctors.

Insurance company bureaucrats.  Obama mentions them, but there is no consistent uproar about them. The term needs to come into common parlance.

Insurance companies ration care. Say it and ask the right questions: Have you ever had to wait more than a week for an authorization? Have you ever had an authorization turned down? Have you had to wait months to see a specialist? Does you primary care physician have to rush you through? Have your out-of-pocket costs gone up? Ask these questions. You know the answers. It’s because insurance companies have been rationing care. Say it.

Insurance companies are inefficient and wasteful. A large chunk of your health care dollar is not going for health care when you buy from insurance companies.
Insurance companies govern your lives. They have more power over you than even governments have. They make life and death decisions. And they are accountable only to profit, not to citizens.

The health care failure is an insurance company failure. Why keep a failing system? Augment it. Give an alternative.

The Needed Communication System

A progressive communication system should be started. It should go into every Congressional district. It should concentrate on general progressive ideas. President Obama has articulated what these are.  
• The basic values are empathy (we care about people), responsibility for ourselves and others, and the ethic of excellence (making ourselves better and the world better).
• These values form the basis of democracy: It’s because we care about our fellow citizens that we have values like freedom and fairness, for everyone, not just the powerful.
• From that, it follows that government has two moral missions: protection (of consumers, workers, the environment, the old, the sick, the powerless; and empowerment through public works; communication, energy, and water systems; education; banks that work; a court system: and so on. Without them, no one makes it in America. Taxes are what you pay for protection and empowerment by the government, and the more you make the greater your responsibility to maintain the system.

Appropriate language can be found to express these values. They lie at the heart of all progressive policies. If they are out there every day, it becomes easier to discuss any issue. This is what it means to prepare the ground for specific framings.

The Culture War is On! You Can’t Ignore it

President Obama wants to unify the country, and he should. It is a noble idea. It is the right idea. And he started out with the right way to do it. Campaign for what you believe – for empathy, social responsibility, making the nation better. Activate the progressive values in the many millions of Americans who have some conservative values and some progressive values.

But also inhibit the radical, harmful conservative ideology in the brains of our countrymen, by directly saying what’s wrong with it. Yes, there are villains. They have a very potent communications system and can organize their troops. Every victory makes them more powerful. They have put together powerful narratives. We need more powerful ones.
And avoid PolicySpeak and PolicyLists.

What should have been done?

It is useful to review what should and should not have been done, because we need to understand the past to avoid future mistakes.

First, it was obvious to the framing community what the right wing would do. Almost every move could have been predicted, and most of them were. There should have been a serious counter effort from right after the election.

Second, an effective communication system should have been built. Not for dictating what to say, but for creating a system of effectively trained spokespeople who can get the basic progressive values out there every day, to compete with the very effective conservative system. It should not work issue by issue, but in addition to the issues of the day, it should promote general values that apply to all issues.

The elements are all in existence. The money is there. Indeed it would be a lot cheaper to build than spending tens of millions of dollars on health care ads. What it would accomplish is laying the groundwork in advance of any particular issue. The work of such a communication system would be to activate ideas already there in the millions of citizens who have progressive as well as conservative worldviews in their brain circuitry. The idea would be to make progressive ideas stronger and conservative ideas weaker, balancing what the conservative communication system is doing now.

It is rather late in the game for the stimulus, cap and trade, and health care, but better late than never. And it would be indispensible for future policy campaigns. Framing a powerful message is a lot easier when the groundwork for it has already been laid. Without the groundwork, it is much harder.

Third, a serious framing education effort with folks who do know the science should have been organized, not just for the communications system, but for the policymakers themselves.

Fourth, the villainizing of real insurance company villains should have begun from the beginning. As it is, the right wing turned the tables. They attributed to government all the disasters of insurance company health care: rationing, long lines, waits for authorizations and visits to specialists, denial of care. The administration is trying to turn that around, but it is harder now, and they are trying it using PolicySpeak, which is the most ineffective of means.

Fifth, the positive policy should have been made in moral terms, with clear and vivid language. The term “public option” is a PolicySpeak loser. The public is the American public, it is all of us, it is America, and it should have been called the American Plan.

Sixth, the administration should have been on the offensive not the defensive all the way. The use of conservative language should never have been used in debunking.

Seventh, it was a mistake to shut out single payer advocates. They should have been welcomed into the debate. Though the term “single payer” is hopeless PolicySpeak and “doctor-patient care” would have been more accurate, nonetheless the doctors, nurses, and unions advocating for such a plan could have done a lot of the work of villainizing the health care industry and would have drawn fire from the Right. An alternative on the left would have made the President’s plan a compromise. Besides, there is so much to be said in favor of single payer, that there might have been fewer actual compromises with the right.

Eighth, it was a mistake to put cost ahead of morality. Health care is a moral issue, and the right-wing understands that and is using it. That’s why the “death panels” and “government takeover” language resonates with those who have a conservative moral perspective and have effectively used terms like “pro-life.” Health care is a life and death issue, which is as moral as anything could be. The insurance companies have been on the side of death, and that needs to be said overtly.

Ninth, accepting the idea that health is a line item separate from agriculture policy, the food industry, regulation of food and drugs, education, the vitality of business, banking reform, etc. is just bad economics. These are all tied up together. In this, health care might have been treated like the “recovery” package, but in reverse.

A causal approach to economics would be appropriate. Instead of putting funds in many places, it might have taken funds from sources of health problems. For example, big agriculture and the food industry produce and heavily marketed foods that have been central causes of the obesity epidemic and heart disease — corn syrup, too much meat, and so on. They might have been called upon to pay the costs of treating heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. It would not be popular with those industries, but it would be causally fair, and might even save a lot of lives – and money.

Our take another example of causal economics. Hugely high private taxation (that is, high costs and profit taking) by the health insurance industry helped drive American automakers into bankruptcy. The health insurance industry should have had to use a portion of their profits for bailouts of the auto industry, and the equivalent amount of bailout money could have been used for providing health care to those without it.

Given the systemic nature of our culture and our economy, a move in the direction of such causal economics should start to be seriously considered. At the very least it would bring up the question, alert the public to systemic causation, and start people thinking about the justice of causal economics.

All this is not just 20-20 hindsight. My colleagues, Glenn Smith and Eric Haas and I have made many of these points before. See our reply to the May 2009 memo by Frank Luntz: Html.
And take a look at an even earlier memo of the logic of the health care debate:

Where PolicyLists and PolicySpeak Come From

Framing is everywhere, not just in language. What people do depends on how they think, on how they understand the world — and we all use framing to understand the world. Truth matters. But it can only be comprehended when it is framed effectively, and heard constantly.
This point is to often misunderstood that it is important to understand why. It is also important to understand where PolicyLists and PolicySpeak come from and why they have the powerful grip that they have. This is especially important now, when there might still be a chance to turn the health care debate around.

The source of these political disasters lies in an unlikely place: our most common understanding of reason itself.

What Is Reason Really Like?

PolicySpeak is supposed to be reasoned, objective discourse. It thus assumes a theory of what reason itself is — a philosophical theory that dates back to the 17th Century and is still taught.

Over the past four decades, cognitive science and neuroscience have provided a scientific view of how the brain and mind really work. A handful of these results have come into behavioral economics. But most social scientists and policymakers are not trained in these fields.  They still have the old view of mind and language.

The old philosophical theory says that reason is conscious, can fit the world directly, is universal (we all think the same way), is dispassionate (emotions get in the way of reason), is literal (no metaphor or framing in reason), works by logic, is abstract (not physical) and functions to serve our interests. Language on this view is neutral and can directly fit, or not fit, reality.

The scientific research in neuroscience and cognitive science has shown that most reason is unconscious. Since we think with our brains, reason cannot directly fit the world. Emotion is necessary for rational thought; if you cannot feel emotion, you will not know what to want or how anyone else would react to your actions. Rational decisions depend on emotion. Empathy with others has a physical basis, and as much as self-interest, empathy lies behind reason.
Ideas are physical, part of brain circuitry. Ideas are constituted by brain structures called ‘frames’ and ‘metaphors,’ and reason uses them.  Frames form systems, called worldviews.

All language is defined relative to such frames and metaphors. There are very different conservative and progressive worldviews, and different words can activate different worldviews. Important words, like freedom, can have entirely different meanings depending on your worldview. In short, not everybody thinks the same way.

As a result, what is taken as “objective” discourse is often worldview dependent. This is especially true of health care. All progressive writing supporting some version of health care assumes a progressive moral worldview, in which no one should be forced to go without heath care, the government should play a role, market regulation is necessary, and so on.
Those with radical conservative worldviews may well think otherwise: that everyone should be responsible for their own and their family’s health care, that the government is oppressive and should stay out of it, that the market should always dominate, and so on.

Overall, the foundational assumptions underlying PolicySpeak are false. It should be no wonder that PolicySpeak isn’t working.

The Bi-conceptual Audience

A property of brains called “mutual inhibition” permits people to have contradictory worldviews and go back and forth between them.  Many people have both progressive and conservative worldviews, but on different issues — perhaps conservative on financial issues and progressive on social issues. Such people are called bi-conceptuals. President Obama understands this. He has said that his “bipartisanship” means finding Republicans who happen to share his progressive views on particular issues, and working with them on those issues—and not accepting an ideology (radical conservatism) rejected by the American people.

The people the President has to convince are the millions of bi-conceptuals. That means he has to have them thinking of health care in progressive moral terms, not conservative moral terms.  How can this be accomplished?

Why Do the Nature of Reason and Language Matter?

It’s all in the brain. Words activate frame-and-metaphor circuits, which in turn activate worldview circuits. Whenever brain circuitry is activated, the synapses get stronger, and the circuits are easier to activate again. Conservative language will activate conservative frames, which will activate and strengthen the conservative worldview.

Conservative tacticians may not know about brain research, but they know about marketing, and marketing theorists use that brain research. That is why conservatives place such importance on language choice, from the classic “socialized medicine,” to Luntz’s “government takeover” to Palin’s “death panels.”  When repeated over and over, the words evoke a conservative worldview, with many of the specific bogeymen — abortion, socialism = communism = nazism, euthanasia, foreigners, taxes, spending, the liberal elite, Big Brother, and so on. The most effective language has emotional appeal and, to conservatives, a moral appeal because it activates the conservative moral worldview. And such language, repeated every day, changes brains, strengthening the synapses of those who listen.

Conservative language will activate and strengthen conservative worldviews — even when negated! I titled a book Don’t Think of an Elephant! to make this point. The classic example is Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” which made everyone think of him as a crook. And yet I’ve heard President Obama say “We don’t want a government takeover,” which activates the idea of a government takeover.’s major story, as I write this, is: “The media have debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times.” It then gives a list of 40 cases of debunking, each one of which uses the term “death panels.” And you wonder, after so many debunkings, why it is still believed! Each “debunking” reinforced the idea. The first rule of effective communication is stating the positive in your own terms, not quoting the other side’s language with a negation.

The Conservative Communication System

The serious reporting on role of conservative think tanks began in the mid-1990’s with works such as:
• Buying a Movement: Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics (People for the American Way, 1996).
• Sally Covington, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1998).
• Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado, No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda (Temple University Press, 1996).
In 1996, my Moral Politics appeared, outlining the conservative and progressive moral worldviews and how the conservatives used language to frame public discourse their way.
In 2004, Rob Stein tracked the conservative communications system, traeling the country with his detailed powerpoint, "The Conservative Message Machine Money Matrix." Stein tracked not only conservative think tanks, but also the language experts and training institutes training tens of thousands of conservative spokespeople He also tracked the communications facilities, and the collections of “experts” on every issue, together with a booking agency booking the experts daily on media all over the country. Daily talking points are repeated by those “experts.” The conservative communications system extends into every congressional district, including the districts of democrats. In the case of the Blue Dog Democrats, who come from relatively conservative districts, the Blue Dogs have to deal with constituents who hear conservative framing over and over every day without anything effective countering it. That is a major factor in Blue Dog resistance to administration proposals.

With all this information, you might think that progressives would set up their own communications network going into the heart of conservative districts everywhere, day after day, effectively countering the conservative framing.

It didn’t happen. Instead, PolicySpeak prevailed. The old philosophical theory, which is taught in every policy school, won out. Progressives thought such a communications system would be illegitimate — what the conservatives do. They believe, in 17th Century fashion, that if they just state the facts, people should reason to the right conclusion.
So progressives set up truth squad websites and blogs to negate conservative lies – like Media Matters, The Center for American Progress, the People for the American Way, the Center for America’s Future, MoveOn, Organizing for America, and so on. These are all fine organizations, and we are fortunate to have them.  But … they are preaching to the choir (because they don’t have an adequate communications system), and they are using PolicySpeak: just stating the policy truths will be enough.

As I was writing this, I received the viral email written by David Axelrod, which he refers to as “probably one of the longest emails I've ever sent.” It is indeed long. It is accurate. It lays out the President’s list of needed reforms. It answers the myths. It appeals to people who would personally benefit from the President’s plan. It drops the Public Option, which makes sense of the list. And it is written in PolicySpeak. It has 24 points – 3 sets of 8.

Ask yourself which is more memorable: “Government takeover,” “socialized medicine,” and “death panels” — or Axelrod’s 24 points?

Did the administration do a reality check on the 24 points? That is, did they have one of our superb cognitive psychologists test subjects who were convinced of the right-wing framing, have them read the 24 points, and test them a couple days or a week later on whether Axelrod’s 24 points had convinced them? PolicySpeak folks don’t tend to think of such things.

I genuinely hope the 24 points work. But this is the kind of messaging that created the problems in the first place.

I respect Axelrod deeply. But the strategist who ran the best-framed campaign I’ve ever seen is giving in to PolicySpeak.

The Irony

There is a painful irony in all this, and I am aware of it constantly. Highly educated progressives, who argue for the importance of science, have been ignoring or rejecting the science of the brain and mind. Why?

Because brains are brains. A great many progressives have not grown up with, nor have they learned, the new scientific understanding of reason. Instead they have acquired the old philosophical theory of reason and assume it every day in everything they do.  The old view is inscribed indelibly in the synapses of their brains. It will be hard for those progressives to comprehend the new science that contradicts their daily practice.

They may find it hard to comprehend framing, metaphor, and narrative as the way reason really works — as what you need to do to communicate truth. Instead, they may well think of framing as merely manipulation and spin, as the mechanism that the right wing uses to communicate lies.

An excellent example of such old-theory thinking appears in the Rahm Emanuel/Bruce Reed book, The Plan, where framing is seen only as manipulation, not as the structure of ideas. Emanuel and Reed (p. 21) assume that policy is independent of what they incorrectly understand framing to be. As a result, they assume that framing can only be illegitimate manipulation.

This is, of course, the very opposite of what I and other cognitive scientists have been saying. They are right that real reason can be manipulated in that way, as Frank Luntz has shown us. But it need not be. An understanding of how the brain really works can be used to communicate the truth effectively, and that’s how it should be used.

In the Obama campaign, honest, effective framing was used with great success. But in the Obama administration, something has changed. It needs to change back.

Originally posted to George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:25 PM PDT.

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    •  campaign framing was only honest (43+ / 0-)

      if the idea structure, the expressed structure of intent, carried over to become the actions of the administration.  

      if the Obama campaign evidenced a clear ability to do exactly what you describe as necessary, then what leads you to think that they're lacking an understanding of honest and effective framing?

      for all of the words spent articulating what evidence suggests they already know, you gloss over the critical issue in closing, saying only that "something has changed."  as they already know how to frame well, the important question is, why aren't they?  what has changed?

      of course the answer is obvious, if demoralizing: elections are framed to appeal to voters while policy is framed to appeal to the dominant class whose interests the government serves.  

    •  You need to add... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScienceMom, NoMoreLies, SueDe, Onomastic the Personal Responsibility aspect of HR 3200.  The bill makes uninsured people, including illegal aliens,  pay.

      This is grounded in the core American value of Personal should not free-ride off your neighbor's Emergency Room.

      •  An emergency room is an emergency room. (7+ / 0-)

        It belongs to whomever needs its services in an emergency.  Uninsured people, including "illegal aliens," pay for its services through taxes and fees to the best of their ability.  They'd have a better ability to pay if the capitalist class that includes the insurance companies hadn't stolen so much from them already.

        "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

        by keikekaze on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:07:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  See, this is why we lose... (0+ / 0-)

          ...we try to talk about framing, and we get Marxist rhetoric.  This is not how to win!

          I don't care if you're right, Mr. can't frame for beans, and therefore, you can't get anything done in this Republic.  Talking about the "capitalist class" and how evil they are does not play well in North Carolina.  We need to actually pass a bill, not educate the Proletariat.

          Also, illegal aliens pay neither taxes nor fees and many "uninsured" people could afford to buy insurance, but choose not to.  This is one reason why some Conservatives are bitter.  We need to show them that we feel their pain and have already put safeguards in HR 3200 to soothe that pain.

          •  We also lose . . . (5+ / 0-)

            . . . when we try to talk about framing and come up with Republican memes.

            We win, as we did in 2006 and 2008, when we address the real needs of actual Americans, without GOP rhetoric, finger-pointing and, er, red-baiting.  We would go on winning in perpetuity if only we actually followed though with action to follow the words, which we so far have not.

            "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

            by keikekaze on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:35:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  P.S. I was OBVIOUSLY not suggesting that what . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              . . . I said in that first post should be in Obama's next speech.  I didn't say that it should, even though it happens to be truth.  I was replying to you, Mr. Emanuel--I mean, Mr. Brilliant Framer.

              "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

              by keikekaze on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:40:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Balony. (11+ / 0-)

            Also, illegal aliens pay neither taxes nor fees and many "uninsured" people could afford to buy insurance, but choose not to.  This is one reason why some Conservatives are bitter.

            1.  "illegal aliens" pay sales taxes through everything they buy and they buy alot.  Remember, they arrived here with only the shirt on their back so they buy lots of clothing, household goods, automobiles, etc. Lots. They also pay property taxes through their rent.  And, in case you've missed it, there is an entire industry of mortgage brokers providing mortgages for undocumented persons at only a couple points above what the rest of us pay.  Those homeowners also pay property taxes.

            1a) In many states in the union, sales tax and property tax are the sole funding mechanism of state, county and local governments.  And they are the primary funding mechanism in nearly all county and local governments.

            1b) And who provides county hospital emergency rooms and clinics?  City and County governments, funded by... come on, guess!?  Property and Sales Taxes paid by all inhabitants of those cities and counties.

            1. "uninsured people could afford to buy insurance" - what a laugh that one is. With 65% of all personal bankruptcies in this nation due to medical expenses, including a large number of people who had insurance and were dropped or where the co-pays alone drove them into bankruptcy, how do you imagine that "the uninsured" are simply wheeling around in their Bentley's making fun of the rest of us? The fact is that medical insurance is wildly unaffordable unless it is provided by your employer.
            1.  Conservatives are bitter?  Cry me a freaking river.  Conservatives can bite my ass, the hateful, nonproductive, divisive, bigots that they are. They can go to hell.  Progressive politics is not about making conservatives non-bitter.  That's an impossible task for anyone.  It's part of the definition of being conservative: Hating Change.
            •  Yes.. (0+ / 0-)

              #1 is correct, but the bad frame is still there: illegal aliens don't pay Health Insurance Premiums. HR 3200 makes them pay.  We need to point that out.

              #2 There are "many" uninsured who could afford to pay. Every Conservative voter knows at least one! Most of them are young people for whom insurance would be really cheap.

              #3 We need to make enough of them non-bitter so we can get a good bill passed.  

      •  That bill is death sentence for anyone without (4+ / 0-)

        thousands of dollars in their pockets or lacking ID.

        Americans stand together when their countrymen are dying.

        We don't leave anybody behind.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 04:40:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A public option can nullify the need for reform (23+ / 0-)

      on a regulatory level. If the public option provides all the stuff that they plan to "force" the private insurers to provide, then it will naturally become the best, most affordable, and most competitive package.

      Then, when it steals market share, the private insurers will be forced to provide the same or better services and coverage in order to lure people back, providing a de facto regulatory framework.

      Doing it the other way, regulating but not providing a public option, opens the door to two things: first, that some future administration will walk back the regulations the way the rethugs did with finance, and second, encourages health insurance companies to control costs through more elaborate, convoluted schemes that regulations don't explicitly cover, so they will go years before successful (or unsuccessful) court challenges force them to make minor adjustments around the edges to satisfy the court.

      I'm not worried about government bureaucrats between me and my doctor; I'm worried about insurance bureaucrats between me and my Senator.

      by PsychicToaster on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:46:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Public option uses market forces (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zeke L, PsychicToaster

        to enable health care reform.  If it succeeds because it offers good care for less money, the for-profits will be forced to do so too.  So there is less need for regulation, and enforcement, which takes time and money.  

      •  a few facts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GayHillbilly, smileyman

        Employment growth between the start of the HilaryCare task force and the start of the Obama administration

        Total private sector, all industries: 23%

        Health care delivery:                  48%

        Health insurance:                     97%

        Jan 93 to Jan 09
        (Source: U.S.A! U.S.A! Bureau of Labor Statistics)

        Medicare for All: the cleanest slogan and the best way forward.

        by furiouschads on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:25:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you, mostly, on messaging (7+ / 0-)

      However, I'm not sure that's the entire problem. I'm not going to be very popular for saying this, but Rahm is correct that we should not be attacking Blue Dogs. Don't get me wrong, they are the problem - but the reason they can get away with being the problem is because the Republicans are spreading misinformation among their low-info, independent constituents, making it easy for the centrists to grandstand against Obama.

      We should be attacking Republicans at every turn. The Republicans are giving us a fine, easy to shut down counterpoint that we should be attacking each and every day - the Blue Dogs aren't. . We did defeat them in November - but contrary to what I am seeing here on the netroots, they are not dead. They are winning the information war right now - not just by framing well, but by pushing lies into the minds of centrist electorate. We need to crush them - give the Blue Dogs no excuse for voting with them.  So we should be aggressively running ads against the Republicans, especially in states with low-population and split Democratic/Republican Senate seats.

      And I contest the notion that framing was used particularly well in the Obama campaign. Nothing very complex was simplified under a framing concept in the campaig, . What was unique about the Obama campaign is that, thanks  to modern media, esp. the Internet, for the first time a candidate could talk frankly and directly and incorporate something of real complexity of the issues into his messaging. Obama had a basic faith that the American people could understand more than the lowest common denominator soundbytes that were proliferated through the 24/7  cable news channels - and it paid off. I think he's doing the same with Health Care, but it's not working as well  because the organizations helping in this effort aren't as focussed on crushing the Republicans as they should be.

    •  Thank you Mr. Lakoff! eom (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hester, zdefender, cRedd, Larsstephens
    •  Incredible analysis as always (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Holly J, cRedd, Larsstephens, smileyman

      The only thing I would add is that instead of calling it "Private Taxation", I would call it "Profit Tax." I realize that, technically, this can refer to the taxes companies have to pay on their profits, but that is policy, not framing. We pay the "taxes" of money, health, and well-being for the sake of corporate profits, and that is just plain wrong (and unamerican!).

      Lakoff: progressivism = empathy, responsibility, and improvement

      by J Ash Bowie on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:45:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just want to say thank you! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cRedd, timewarp, Larsstephens

      really, "thank you"

      "Speak out, judge fairly, and defend the rights of oppressed and needy people." Proverbs 31:9

      by zdefender on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:02:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WHY (9+ / 0-)

      Why do you not have a job in the White House?

      It's been a constant frustration that the Democrats have stubbornly refused to learn easy lessons.  If the Republicans had a bill about insurance for kids it would be the "Healthy Children's Initiative" or the "Protect America's Future Act".  Instead the Democrats called it "S-CHIP" and it's a lot easier to vote against a meaningless acronym.  

      I stopped worrying about gay marriage when I found out it wasn't mandatory.

      by Tod on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:16:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Campaign rhetoric was fuzzy.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ich Folgte Gerade Ordnungen

      The Healthcare debate has come to the point where very specific answers are needed and both Congress and Obama have failed in providing solid answers.

      The failure is in the execution, not in the presentation.

      The president has wrongly viewed this process as a political campaign.  He has continually tried to go out and "sell, sell, sell" something for which he can provide no details.

      Which plan is he selling?  His?  He has none. (Which is probably the biggest mistake he has made - he tried to shift the responsibility (and possible blame) to Congress.  He never should have.)  If this is what you mean when you complain Obama has put healthcare into the hands of policy wonks, I couldn't agree more.

      He still cannot tell town hall attendees how he will pay for the whole bill.  And the amounts he is coming up with sound like he's pulling them out of his arse.. $500 Billion in "savings" and "efficiencies"?  The American public knows our government has never been able to either save or do something more efficiently.

      So, I disagree that the failure is in how it is presented.. words and metaphors are good enough to get the buyer into the showroom.  But to make the sale, you have to have solid numbers and a product to actually sell.  Obama and Congress have neither.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

      by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:02:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ordinarily you get an automatic tip and rec (3+ / 0-)

      from me. Not this time.

      While messaging is important, I think you got the underlying reality wrong.

      From the mass of conflicting leaks, off-the-record remarks, anonymous Adminstration official comments, etc., an underlying narrative is oozing out of the woodwork.

      That what the Obama Administration wants to sign is essentially a Federalized version of the failed RomneyCare plan, with no cost controls other than what the private insurance companies can take out of the health care delivery side of the equation (you think co-pays are bad NOW?).  

      This is a message that they know is unacceptable to the American people, based on their own experience at hammering Hillary Clinton over her version of the same plan.

      So it's not surprising that they're not trying very hard to get that message across.

      If this is NOT what the Obama Administration wants... they need to tell us that plainly. Right now.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great stuff, thanks so much (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've already been using some of these, like "deny you care," and "Insurance company bureaucrats."  I made a sign for a rally last week that said "end insurance company rationing."

      Thanks for the extra ammo!

      Watching Pete Sessions and reporting from the Taliban-controlled 32nd Congressional District of Texas.

      by CoolOnion on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:04:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are 100% right and many things you wrote... (2+ / 0-)

      ...bear repeating over and over, but this one in particular needs to be remembered by the tinkerers as they tinker:

      ...and a future Republican administration will just get rid of the regulators, reassigning them or eliminating their jobs.

      We've seen it all before. But don't seem to have learned.

      Thank you Mr. Lakoff.

      Learn more about second-class U.S. citizenship at

      by Larry Bailey on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:16:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you... (42+ / 0-)

    can you please post something similar on climate change legislation BEFORE the administration messes it up?  Does the frame "climate reform" work?

    Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

    by RLMiller on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:32:22 PM PDT

  •  On my PDA (5+ / 0-)

    To read on the bus tomorrow.  Much too meaty for me to absorb in my current, burned out state! - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:33:54 PM PDT

    •  Absorb this... (21+ / 0-)

      I'll agree that many democrats are consumed with 'policy-speak', but I think it is just as much a mistake to focus on a search for words or 'narratives' from the current vocabulary that might appeal to 'average Joes.'

      The criticism I have always leveled at Lakoff's analytical perspective is that he seems to miss the one big thing that enables the Republicans to effectively demonize the 'liberal Democrats' while at the same time presenting the Republicans as the preferred alternative.  That One Big Thing is the realization by the Republicans that displays of strong emotion are the key to giving the Swing Voters the perception of Democrat proposals that they desire.

      How is it, after all, that the word 'liberal' acquired the negative connotation that it has today?  The Republicans created that negative connotation by repeatedly expressing scorn and derision whenever they used the word to describe their Democratic opponents.  They expressed disgust for anyone who would be foolish enough to be such a person.

      The Republicans realize that when they use strongly felt emotions---like anger and fear---Swing Voters tend to grant them a greater measure of authenticity.  After all, why else would they be so upset?  Think also of the times when Republicans laugh at Democrats.  They don’t just laugh in a way that shows they have a good sense of humor; they laugh in a way that communicates their contempt for Democrats.

      This is the reason why the Democrats' preference for reason ends up not being very effective in the political arena.  It's not because Swing Voters have no appreciation for logic; it's because the Dems who embrace reason also embrace the impassive tone of an objective scholar who is trying to avoid strong emotion.  To the Swing Voter who believes that the angry/scared individual is more credible, the stream of calm verbiage sounds so...contrived.

      This emotional element is why the left wing has a much better grasp of how to appeal to Swing Voters than the wonkish Democratic intellectuals do, who walk into the political arena with some sound 'ideas', but are unable to 'connect' with the Swing Voters.  You know, the voters who determine who wins all elections in America.

    •  HCR - Explained with pictures (3+ / 0-)

      The HCR debacle has my elderly mother more than a little confused and worried about her private insurance, her Medicare coverage, and the prospect of paying higher taxes from her fixed-retirement income.

      A friend of mine recommended this simplified visual presentation drawn on cocktail napkins. It helped me take a nuanced policy pie-fight and explain it so an 80 year-old could understand.

      Check it out: Healthcare Napkins All.

      (It reminds me of the Ross Perot slide shows used back when he ran for POTUS.

      You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned seventy, or given up all hope of the Presidency. Wendell Phillips

      by digital drano on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:09:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the short form (5+ / 0-)

      Te Language bit is the part we can (and should absorb) and start working immediately:


      As for language, the term "public option" is boring. Yes, it is public, and yes, it is an option, but it does not get to the moral and inspiring idea. Call it the American Plan, because that’s what it really is.

      The American Plan. Health care is a patriotic issue. It is what your countrymen are engaged in because Americans care about each other. The right wing understands this well. It’s got conservative veterans at Town Hall meeting shouting things like, "I fought for this country in Vietnam, and I’m fight for it here." Progressives should be stressing the patriotic nature of having our nation guaranteeing care for our people.

      A Health Care Emergency. Americans are suffering and dying because of the failure of insurance company health care. 50 million have no insurance at all, and millions of those who do are denied necessary care or lose their insurance. We can’t wait any longer. It’s an emergency. We have to act now to end the suffering and death.

      Doctor-Patient care. This is what the public plan is really about. Call it that. You have said it, buried in PolicySpeak. Use the slogan. Repeat it. Have every spokesperson repeat it.

      Coverage is not care. You think you’re insured. You very well may not be, because insurance companies make money by denying you care.

      Deny you care... Use the words. That’s what all the paperwork and administrative costs of insurance companies are about – denying you care if they can.
      Insurance company profit-based plans. The bottom line is the bottom line for insurance companies. Say it.

      Private Taxation. Insurance companies have the power to tax and they tax the public mightily. When 20% - 30% of payments do not go to health care, but to denying care and profiting from it, that constitutes a tax on the 96% of voters that have health care. But the tax does not go to benefit those who are taxed; it benefits managers and investors. And the people taxed have no representation. Insurance company health care is a huge example of taxation without representation. And you can’t vote out the people who have taxed you. The American Plan offers an alternative to private taxation.

      Is it time for progressive tea parties at insurance company offices?

      Doctors care; insurance companies don’t. A public plan aims to put care back into the hands of doctors.

      Insurance company bureaucrats. Obama mentions them, but there is no consistent uproar about them. The term needs to come into common parlance.

      Insurance companies ration care. Say it and ask the right questions: Have you ever had to wait more than a week for an authorization? Have you ever had an authorization turned down? Have you had to wait months to see a specialist? Does you primary care physician have to rush you through? Have your out-of-pocket costs gone up? Ask these questions. You know the answers. It’s because insurance companies have been rationing care. Say it.

      Insurance companies are inefficient and wasteful.
      A large chunk of your health care dollar is not going for health care when you buy from insurance companies.

      Insurance companies govern your lives.
      They have more power over you than even governments have. They make life and death decisions. And they are accountable only to profit, not to citizens.

      The health care failure is an insurance company failure. Why keep a failing system? Augment it. Give an alternative.

  •  Kind of the twilight time to post a post. (5+ / 0-)

    Yet, I have my comment.

    BTW, I have your trunk book on my book shelf that I snag at YK1 in Vegas. I had a philosophy teacher cup his hands to have us argue about whether there was a pink elephant cupped in his hands.

    "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

    by JugOPunch on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:38:52 PM PDT

  •  The American Plan? (23+ / 0-)

    You're probably right, but yeesh. If we call it that, does it follow that we should ask anyone who opposes it, "Why do you hate America?"

  •  The regard some of us have for policy speak (18+ / 0-)

    borders on the comical.  If anyone doubts this recall Al Gore talking about the "lock box" in the debate in 2000.

    I think we (the blogosphere) are complicit in this "disaster" as well.  Our proper function would be to use our collective minds to sharpen talking points, to improve the names and frames we use for the program.  This is what the rightwing think tanks did during the period of their success.  They created buzzwords and pithy soundbites that rose to the mouths of their elected "leaders".  This can be done through engaging in serious debate, but not through demonizing and handwringing.  I feel that we haven't collectively stepped up to this challenge.  

    We can organize through here, but most of what we do is write and, if we are to be successful down the road, we should be making a more conscious effort to create language that communicates our ideas to the public at large.  The structure of this blog is an excellent vehicle for this, but only if we use it as one.  There is no particular reason why politicians (with lots of realworld things going on around them) should be better at this (generating language) than we are.

  •  Why isn't dental care part of this conversation? (17+ / 0-)

    I just dropped $5,000 on a new partial plate. Well, ok. I had to get a loan for the procedure and device. And this in spite of the fact that I pay for dental insurance through my employer. Sadly, it's only good for $1000 a year (and that's supposed to cover me, my two kids, and my wife).

    And the wingnuts talk about government deciding how much care you can have! Jeez!! The Obama administration REALLY needs to talk about how our current system rations care and how a public option would overturn that rationing.

    I love the smell of impeachment in the morning!

    by gabbardd on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:47:04 PM PDT

  •  It was never going to be easy (6+ / 0-)

    But I think most people here will agree with you that Obama put the wrong people in charge. Just as he put the wrong people in charge of fixing the economy. Perhaps in part because he partly still thinks like a senator and in part because he is a bit of a technocrat.

    An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

    by brainwave on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:59:45 PM PDT

  •  All you said is true but... (7+ / 0-)

    I don't think Obama WANTS to "reform health care."  Or I should say, Rahm Emanuel doesn't want to reform anything.  That deal they made with Pharma?  That says there will be no negotiating drug prices for the next 10 years (OK, other than for 2% of the price increases -- when Europe & VA get about 40% price cut)?  If Obama, et al., wanted to frame this issue they could have and would have.  They do not want to blow up insurance and drug money campaign contributions.  Period.  They just want to pass some crap to make it look like they've passed some "health insurance reform."  Single payer -- the only thing that would work -- has never been on the table for this administration.      

  •  Thank you so much for this cogent (11+ / 0-)

    educational and important post.  Many of us felt the effort was adrift, that the messaging was incoherent, tardy, and unengaging.  Now you've explained why.  Thank you.

    Parts of this can be implemented immediately, especially the language, but we really need some White House and Congressional leadership paying attention.  I'm sending word to my Congessperson tomorrow, but this really needs to be frontpaged here, across the blogosphere, and put in front of Team O.

  •  Bookmarked for later reading (8+ / 0-)

    Far too meaty to digest at midnight.

    However, a quick scan tells me that you're spot on about a couple of things. President Obama let the message get away from him. I think he's starting to regain that, but that momentum may be lost.

    He needed to lay out a simple message from the beginning and make sure that everybody was on board with the same message. Right now all these groups are doing their own thing and sometimes we're fighting against each other, or duplicating our resources.

    We should be pooling them.

    Classical Music Mayhem

    by smileyman on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:13:19 PM PDT

    •  I need Help with this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've always tried to follow Lakoff because I've often thought he was on the right track in stressing the importance of using the correct language. I dig it when Lakoff says,

      Framing is everywhere, not just in language. What people do depends on how they think, on how they understand the world — and we all use framing to understand the world. Truth matters. But it can only be comprehended when it is framed effectively, and heard constantly.

      For instance, I think the use of the expression of "pro-abortion" is a suicidal phrase for Progressives. No one I know is pro-abortion; most people I know are "pro-choice".

      But Lakoff is too deep for me, and I have to conclude that I just don't get him, especially when he writes,

      ... The term "public option" is a PolicySpeak loser. The public is the American public, it is all of us, it is America, and it should have been called the American Plan.

      This to me is putting too fine a point on it. The disaster in this healthcare debate occurs whenever the putative Progressive side - my side - lapses into the use of the word "government" to describe an option or insurance plan. That feeds the omnivorous anti-government appetite of the retrogressive forces which work to bring back the 19th Century.

      In other words, please, please, puleeze stop using the phrase "government". Always use the expression "public", which communicates the sense of community, of "us", not "them".

      What am I missing?

      •  Public option is too confusing (13+ / 0-)

        means too much or not enough, or anything you want it to be.

        I don't think that "The American Plan" is any better though.

        I've always preferred "Medicare for All". Everybody knows what Medicare is, very few politicians dare to knock it, and it's simple.

        Classical Music Mayhem

        by smileyman on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:36:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Howard Dean Knew How to Present it... (12+ / 0-)

          Dean always said that you could shut down opposition by calling it medicare for everyone, but the Obama administration didn't listen.

          Now their motives are clearly in question after the articles by Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hampsher today.

          •  Medicare Option might be better... (5+ / 0-)

            At this point I don't think the word "option" is optional.

          •  What scares people now is (0+ / 0-)

            too much change. I do agree that Obama and his crew have lost the framing argument, but the realization this was so came when Obama said "I disagree with" Death Panels. He should have said that that terminology was an outright lie. I heard by way of one newspaper's video clip a deep south Congressman listen to two people's dire stories of how they could not get coverage, and he knew enough to say that we need to fill in the cracks of who isn't already covered. I'm sure he will vote with his Republican block, which will say any change is too expensive. This Rep., Mike Rogers, AL03, by way of Anniston Star on line, wanted to ship all illegal immigrants back to where they came from (big applause, and one professed to be a member of the Klan). Then Rogers confessed that there were some young workers out there who could be signing up for insurance but felt as if they would never need it. (He never committed to requiring them to get insured.) He reasoned that anybody who is young would rather spend the money on a car. [But after proposing his own incentive for new car purchase in the form of a rebate on taxes paid for car purchases, did he vote for Cash for Clunkers? I doubt it.] Then he thought he could take care of everybody else--those who are qualified--for SCHIP or Medicaid but not signed up, because they are "poor and ignorant." His ideas of who is scamming the government and who ought to be covered but is not was woefully naieve.

        •  In order to use "American Plan" successfully (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Subterranean, Larsstephens

          there would have had to be a good foundation laid.  The administration would have had to push an American Plan, our own as opposed to Canada's or England's or France's, in order to play up America's uniqueness from the very beginning - that is, immediately after Obama took office.  The conservatives like the idea that America is "special."

          It's too late for laying that foundation, but it may not be too late for putting out there the feeling that the plan is uniquely American.

          The single-payer group hasn't helped in this regard.  They have repeatedly brought up plans of other countries, and conservatives won't have any part of "copying" another - in their minds, inferior - country.  This is why the conservatives have made such an effort to find Canadians and English citizens to air their horror stories about their countries' "socialized" health plans.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:48:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No you don't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, NY brit expat

        You're right to be skeptical. Like Socrates who admitted that he was ignorant, we're right to be ignorant here. Much of what this person says is either completely obvious or just nonsense.

        The main problem with the marketing of health care is not the packaging of the facts. It's that the facts are just not stated.

        One reason for this is that any kind of rational discussion of the facts would lead to advocating national health insurance. Obama categorically rules this approach out, so rational discussion is also off the table.

        Right wing media then further muddies the waters with its predictable refrain.

      •  Choice. Let people choose. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        churchylafemme, Ice Blue, smileyman

        It has always been about choice.

        Nonprofit is another key term that is friendly to people.  Remind folks that whenever you pay for a doctor visit, you're paying for a CEO's yacht.  He's taking your money and profiting from it.

        We need to put patients before profits.

        That's what "patient rights" are REALLY about.  We need to take on Rick Scott (HCA fraudster turned conservative spokesmodel) directly and remind everyone that "patient rights" should give us the chance to get healthcare that doesn't pay for a CEO's salary.

  •  Oh, my god, finally!!! THANK YOU! (20+ / 0-)

    Oh, Mr, Lakoff, you are SO on point.

    PLEASE can you wangle or win or steal SOME closer access to our President, because your insight and knowledge and abilities have been so lacking in what the WH and the leading Dems have been doing!

    Good grief, at this point, if they won't huddle with Mr. Lakoff and take his advice, they must quit with the "public option" baloney and the wonkish blather they're spouting, and just call it "expanding Medicare".

    Period. Simple.

  •  No Professor, there are real objections.... (0+ / 0-)

    You call the issue one of fairness.  Fairness to whom?  You want the wealthy Americans to support those less wealthy, as long as they are citizens of this country.  

    Or do you want this largess to include those who do not have authorization to be here, what you would call "undocumented?"  The answer of the Democrats is no.

    So, you aren't talking about fairness, since you don't care about those who had the misfortune not to be born here, you are talking about chauvinism, old fashioned nationalism that used to be based on race, but now is based on accidents of birth.

    You have a friendly audience here, so your framing is taken as gospel, but there is another view of the world that you imagine will melt away with just the right control of phraseology.

    Read Bob Herbert's columnin yesterday's N.Y. Times, for a dose of reality.   And try to frame your way out of acknowledging that this bill is fatally corrupted, as agreed to by the vast majority of N.Y. Times readers who responded with comments to his article.

    Framing is the newest term for mind numbing propaganda.  And my ultimate comment is "Is this all you have?"

  •  This is bull (5+ / 0-)

    The major problem with the Democrats' effort is not the way that the truth is being presented. It's that the truth is simply not being presented.

    Any kind of rational examination of the facts of the health care system in the United States compared with other countries would yield only one conclusion: we need to move to outright national health insurance, not a public option that enrolls only 10 million people (one thirtieth of the US population) as in HR 3200. This is already favored by around 50-60% of the population.

    This is not about packaging but rather what is in the package.

    •  Interesting read .. (6+ / 0-)

      in another diary someone called 'Life Care' a good monicker for the plan.

      Perhaps "American Life Care" would be even better, but it's depressing to think that mere propaganda has to be used when the actual concepts of the preferable Single Payer, and it's weak cousin the Public Option have to be covered in so much sweet sticky sauce?

      Is it a 'Health Care Emergency'?

      And the issue of the Wurlitzer that the right wing plays is bigger than just health care. We're going to see/hear this in action over and over again on immigration, on other budget issues, on DOMA, on DADT, on national defense, on environment and global climate change issues.

      The problem is the Wurlitzer itself: it is blinding the majority of Americans to even a snippet of truth or facts.

      My tag line points to a recent diary that talks about what we can do to change the place where the RW noise machine exerts a lot of pressure, and that's in the rural States where Democratic Senators will stand in opposition to change, any change. We've got to do something about changing the culture of the people who live in these areas, and get them to influence those Senators who serve from those States.

    •  Accidently posted my reply to your comment, (3+ / 0-)

      it was directed at the diarist.

      I prefer single payer, and Congress making a law that renders for-profit "insurance" of health care illegal.  

      And I agree, PO is weak sauce.

      But in the current political climate, it's all we're going to get for now. Incrementalism sucks, but that's reality.  

    •  Rational doesn't change your mind (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gratis4, Larsstephens, teachme2night

      You have to focus on the heart.

    •  Yeah... sure... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gratis4, Anak

      keep beating that drum. Just give the people the facts, and they'll support us.

      Everybody knows the facts. We've been telling them, loudly, since the 1940s.

      And since just presenting the truth has worked so well, we got universal health care easily. Before I was born, even.


      Oh, wait...


      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:39:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Afraid not. (6+ / 0-)

      That's the problem with the Democrats. They think facts will win the day. That will never, ever, ever, never, ever work because the Republicans always take control of the messaging and put the Dems on the defensive. Just as in advertising, you connect with people on an emotional level in order to win them over. Facts are useless otherwise. Witness the outright lies the Republicans are spreading. Not a fact in the bunch, but boy, they sure seem to be working.

  •  Great diary (8+ / 0-)

    I hope someone up there is listening.

    Bush repealed Godwin's Law with a Signing Statement.

    by Mad Kossack on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:19:59 AM PDT

  •  Obama needs to give you a job, Mr. Lakoff (6+ / 0-)

    Maybe Rahm's? ;-)

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:22:01 AM PDT

  •  I am saving this for future reference (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue, Pluto, TomP, Larsstephens

    thanks Dr. Lakoff

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

    by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:24:35 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, George Lakoff (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, cskendrick, Larsstephens

    In a debate where the majority of health reform opponents are misled on the facts, our language skills clearly need to improve.  We aren't getting the truth across.  Your suggestions should help.  Tipped and rec'd in hopes that those who construct our sound bites read and follow what you suggest.

  •  Wonks? (4+ / 0-)

    I was under the impression wonks understood policy. I'm worried he put it in the hands of people who have no concept of how policy actually works.

  •  Obama's WH (and Dems in Congress) (4+ / 0-)

    needs to read and absorb diaries like this. Their messaging sucks. And, frankly, as good a campaign as Obama's team ran was basically because of organization on the ground, not their messaging. I remember many posts here during the campaign SCREAMING about how bad the Obama team's messaging was. It hasn't improved.

    I'm a dyslexic agnostic insomniac. I lie awake at night wondering if there really is a dog.

    by rennert on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM PDT

  •  suggestions for climate change debate? (3+ / 0-)

    would be much appreciated so we can start preparing a game plan -
    the industry has certainly started their war games

    i'm sure they'll be using some tried and tested techniques from the health care playbook.

  •  Rahm Emnauel is a jerk - not a progressive (5+ / 0-)

    He's just a jerk. A debutante, status quo asshole with a big mouth and an ego to match.

    I don't even think it's this complicated. They're all centrist politicians with an interest in the preservation of the status quo and grabbing and maintaining power - not progressives. IMO, there is no complex liberal psyche to examine here. Rather there is greed, corruption, nepotism, self adulation and work towards the preservation of legacies. They have no real foresight because they put blinders on every morning.

    A bunch of one dimensional fuckwads in a broadcast news circle jerk.

    Slap happy is a platform.

    by averageyoungman on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:32:12 AM PDT

  •  Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (12+ / 0-)

    We revived it from the gaveyard of scrolled off diaries!!!

    They "prefer an America where parents will lie awake at night worried if they can afford health care their children need."

    by TomP on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:34:59 AM PDT

  •  RE: OFA (0+ / 0-)

    They send out so many emails, most of which contain mostly kool aid, that I don't even read most of them anymore.

    In fact I think I'll try to unsubscribe.

  •  possibly the most clear explanation for it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would be

    "let's open up medicaid so it's available to everyone-not just those 65 or over"

    it doesn't need to be any simpler than that.

  •  I don't agree that ALL Americans see the need to (9+ / 0-)

    care for the uninsured.

    The American Plan. Health care is a patriotic issue. It is what your countrymen are engaged in because Americans care about each other. The right wing understands this well.

    I honestly think there is a huge segment of conservatives out there that could care less about helping others----especially those minorities and the poor.

    It sounds good; but the reality is: their attitude is "Let them fend for themselves"

    Do we really believe the birthers & deathers are looking out for the disadvantaged??

    How about the 2nd Amendment groupies?

    •  Polling consistantly shows that most Americans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, Larsstephens

      want a European style safety net w.r.t. healthcare.

      The Obama administration keeps trying to spin that but they always show in their spin exactly what we mean when we are angry at them.

      They don't care about the people of this country the way they should. That's not acceptable.

      Democratic "Health Insurance Reform" is not "preventative care" its "Prevent Care™"

      by Andiamo on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:15:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  see Cenk Uygur diary for simplified plan (3+ / 0-)

    DC is great at wasting time and money.
    So what's stopping us from just starting over?

    Dennis Kucinich was right.

    by lisastar on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:47:05 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, gratis4, TomP, Larsstephens

    I have tried to get this across to this group but with limited success.  I hope they are listening!

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:49:01 AM PDT

  •  Your underlying assumption is wrong (10+ / 0-)

    You assume that Obama really wants true health care reform with a strong public option and he wants that message clearly enunciated.

    I realized that was wrong (much later than many others) when he refused to have single payer supporters even at the discussion table.  Even if Obama was never going to support and the Congress was never going to pass a single payer plan, the input from those who have studied the system (PNHP for example is made up of doctors and other medical practitioners) would have been valuable - IF YOU WANT HEALTH CARE REFORM.

    When single payer was denied a seat at the table, I knew the fix was in.  After all, hasn't Obama been the biggest cheerleader for inclusion?  (His bipartisan reach out is only one aspect of this practice.)  But for the folks who back single payer, he assumes that these people are complete morons who have nothing to add to the discussion?

    Obama doesn't need to take talking points about talking.  If he wanted real health care reform, he could devise a plan of talking points similar to what you've discussed.  

    Instead, he is still talking about how there are no death squads.  Why would he even go there?  And this is supposed to firm up his support among his progressive base?

    We all know that insurance is socialism with a capitalist surcharge.  

    We all know that supporting the market economy doesn't mean that you'll patronize the restaurant that serves bad food in a place crawling with cockroaches - you'll just let that place go out of business.  

    We all know that the health insurance industry is just a cockroach infested greasy spoon that should be allowed to die.  

    We all know that life, auto, homeowner and other types of insurance actually pay out on claims while health insurance can only deny.

    This isn't hard to do and many people have been urging Obama to have a simple list of what he wants in health care (and why) and to beat that drum relentlessly.  

    The problem with that approach?  Meaningful health care reform might actually occur.  Then where would Obama be?

  •  Already Diaried :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for coming on to the forum and sharing this info.

    [Journalism] is media agnostic. - Kos

    by RichM on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:50:38 AM PDT

  •  This is a really interesting read. (12+ / 0-)

    I've been baffled as well by how badly the Obama administration has handled the messaging on this issue.  He and his team were so phenomenally disciplined -- and right -- about messaging during the election.  How could they be so wrong about how to handle health care?

    I still like the "Medicare for all" slogan.  I think that makes it understandable.  No one disputes that Medicare is a good thing (well, except maybe Dick Armey), and people understand (or at least they think they understand) what Medicare is.  So demanding that everyone have access to it is, I think, a simple way to talk about it.  Certainly the current language, i.e., public option and single-payer, is totally ineffective because no one understands what that means.

    Medicare for all, goddamnit.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:50:47 AM PDT

    •  I think your idea... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies, TomP

      captures the essence of it much better than the diarist's.

      Time lost is always a disadvantage that is bound in some way to weaken him who loses it. -Clausewitz

      by Malachite on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:55:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are problems with "Medicare for All" (0+ / 0-)

      though a lot of it is based on misunderstandings--the fact is that, however much those who benefit from Medicare are satisfied with it, Medicare as currently constituted is unsustainable--unlike Social Security, Medicare is actually going broke. Opening up Medicare to young and healthy people could actually make it more sustainable, but most people think that if it were open to all it would cost more and bankrupt the federal government...and people keep hearing that doctors and hospitals are going broke because Medicare's reimbursement rate keeps getting cut.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:26:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Senators (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, churchylafemme, gratis4, codairem

    Insurance companies ration care. Say it and ask the right questions: Have you ever had to wait more than a week for an authorization? Have you ever had an authorization turned down? Have you had to wait months to see a specialist? Does you primary care physician have to rush you through? Have your out-of-pocket costs gone up? Ask these questions. You know the answers. It’s because insurance companies have been rationing care. Say it.

    I'll bet you every Senator and most Representatives will answer all these questions differently from the general public.  Most of them "know" that the current system is the best, because none of this has ever happened to them or anyone they know (viz. their contributors, bundlers, and lobbyists).

  •  Thanks, G Lakoff. Jeffrey Feldman's diary also (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Larsstephens

    has a similar take on what's happening.  Here's a link to the Feldman diary.

    "Never say you know the last word about any human heart." - Henry James

    by RadioGirl on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:57:22 AM PDT

  •  George, I am guessing the White House (8+ / 0-)

    doesn't ask for your advice.  You make some great points and frame the issue very well.

    On the other hand, Republicans go out of their way to ask Frank Luntz for framing advice.  They then go out and use it.

  •  George ... I don't understand why you .... (9+ / 0-)

    .... are not on staff at the White House.

    Emptiness ... is always bigger ... than you remembered.

    by abarefootboy on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:58:30 AM PDT

  •  No, nothing has changed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    Obama threw progressives under the bus the second he had extracted enough votes from us to beat Hillary and he continues to publicly demonstrate his contempt for us.

    Responding to a question from Smerconish, Obama said, "The press got excited and some folks on the left got a little excited" when the administration last weekend made statements indicating that a federally run health insurance option was just one of several alternatives.

  •  Healthcare Reform as Directed by Steven Spielberg (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue earth, TomP, Kickemout, Larsstephens

    Our heroes [President Obama, The United States Economy, and Medicare] are trapped in a below ground vault with the ceiling closing in on them.

    The Conservadems are sitting outside the vault -- wondering what to do.

    President Obama shouts thrugh a hole in the wall to "pull the public option lever!"

    The Conservdems ask: "In there? It's all icky and filled with politicaly unpopular bugs!"

    President Obama: "Do it NOW!"

    Conservadems: "Ewww...." sticks hand into the wrong hole -- and pulls Co-Ops lever by mistake -- ejecting deadly metal spikes from the cieling.

    President Obama yelling: "WE...ARE GOING TO DIE!!!"

    [Stayed tuned for the next episode!]

  •  Note to White House: (9+ / 0-)

    HIRE LAKOFF! You people are as thick as bricks.

  •  Argument Clinic needed … (5+ / 0-)

    Over in my coverage of the DeFazio town hall, I'm getting pushback from people who don't have insurance and are worried that the FDL citizen whip effort could torpedo the bill altogether. I'm trying to explain that actually, without the public option, they'll just go from uninsured to underinsured and bankrupt. But I'm getting told not to lecture them because I'm young and insured (though even I'm having trouble with the current system).

    So what's the best response to “don't you dare destroy this bill over your precious public option when there are millions who need insurance”? I can't seem to get across that we're not making the perfect the enemy of the good, we're making the just-barely-good-enough the enemy of the worse-than-nothing …

    “If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution.” — Emma Goldman

    by Jyrinx on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:00:51 AM PDT

  •  Sure, repeating lies or stretches (0+ / 0-)

    often enough keeps the primary terms in a public consciousness, eventually making waves in the 24x7-need-something-to-report-now-preferably-a-conflict Newstainment media channels.

    So, anyone can get an impression created, given enough money and organization.

    Conservatives are more narrowly focused than we are on these kinds of messages and tactics - plus, they have extreme followers who do no thinking of their own.

    For all of these reasons, I'm not worried so much about the public reporting, because I suspect that 80% of what we are hearing now is bullshite.

    What matters is what kind of text and debate we see after the recess, which means pressing on the Congresscritters to realize only a public option remains on the books as a cost-reducing manner to provide full coverage within this political climate, IMHO.

    So, business as usual, just stop getting so worked up over hourly statements, if possible.

    I don't full agree with this analysis, because it seems to ignore the political realities of balancing the Senate's selfish whims with the Administration's intentional push, so the form of messaging needed to change and accomodate bridges staying unburned there.  Because, that's Obama's style - he tends not to be an absolutist, but a pragmatic solutioner.  So, style of messaging has changed, too.  It can be altered, but that would require more unified cooperation from Congress: even with Rahm and Biden going after them, good luck - Congress was taking potshots at the President-elect in early January, letting him know that they would easily throw him under the bus for their problems.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:02:57 AM PDT

    •  Ugh! From you, Wader???? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GayHillbilly, wader, codairem

      The realities we are experiencing are Right Wing frames.

      The corporate media, all right wing frames.

      Our corporate sponsored politicians - all right wing frames -  all over the corporate media.

      Get out of them. It's a positive feedback loop, and it does create a reality.

      Right Wing framing made this country OK with torture. Was that reality?

      Peace, wader!

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 04:18:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I accept those framings, definitely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I just don't react to them in the same manner for this battle.  Because it's become so ludicrous and our time is short in the larger war.

        The Republicans and industry players don't have time to move any Overton Windows significantly in such a short amount of time, IMHO - at least, not long enough to have much effect by now.  Hence, their absolutely crazy extremism on display, which will only become more shrill.  And, the traditional media loves fireworks.  In a 24x7, nonstop reporting cycle, they report everything as if it was "Breaking".

        And, what did we see in all the political cartoons last week?  Overwhelming joking about the teabaggers and their insane displays.  I'm reading that as a common reaction in the reporting now, too.  So, these events will be escalated by guns and even more extremism pretty soon, I suspect.

        But, for this particular war, I feel that the Republican+industry shite is all a distraction from our real goals: constant action and pouring out of effort into ensuring that our Congresspeople on board for a robust public plan.  From what I've heard on actual Town Halls, the teabaggers are not picking up converts and the Congresscritters are mostly reacting in balanced, sane manners.  We need to reinforce their sane views with more pressure based on reason and compassion.  Overwhelmingly.

        Sure, any time we can spend in educating the media is great - and frankly, work here may be picked up elsewhere without our trying too hard.  I'm all for those who can help expose media-propagated lies to trumpet what's factual in a sale-able manner.

        But, we are on a long slope that's increasing in speed for this particular effort.  While I am concerned about Overton Windows for longer-term themes (e.g., immigration reform, accepted racism), I honestly don't think that these media displays are doing much to affect our goal.

        So . . .

        All analyses I've read show that the only compromises being floated in public by the White House are due to the Blue Dogs in the Senate.  That's the location of our key battle, right there.

        It's fine to dig in for the other battles, but if we don't defeat the Blue Dogs and if we don't help give the White House that excuse/lift after recess, we've lost the war.  Rahm can go to heck if he's helping move this the wrong way, though he could be firing us up, too.  More floating of topics for reaction.

        I was once a Republican and their current tactics smell of desperate carpet bombing with only a few stashes of smoke bombs.  This effort is too important to get offtrack due to their noise machine, I feel.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:50:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Single Payer (9+ / 0-)

    Seventh, it was a mistake to shut out single payer advocates.

    This is what I have been saying all along. In any negotiations, you don't start where you want to end up, you start at your ideal. Had we done so, there would have been less to give away and we would have already done the deal.

    •  Shameful charade! (4+ / 0-)

      We should have known that the Chicago  deal was already being set into motion and all of this carnival & circus atmosphere was being ginned up for grins when single payer flew off the table.

      At that point, we knew the deck was stacked in favor of fascista corporatists and their paid-for cronies in Congress.

      But we, on the left, despite being punched in the gut repeatedly every time this WH chose to look the other way and/or reinforce Bush's crimes by permitting them, still held the faith.

      After all, we realized who we really are and of what we are made during this last campaign.  We developed our moral psyche and spiritual innards exponentially and now are finding ourselves playing "parent" in this juvenile, political adult/child relationship we are engaged in with Washington.

      This is a case of 'be careful what you ask for' because progressives now will continue to demand that level of moral highground which was so oft flouted in our faces - yes, we can and yes, we will.

      We will hold the administration & Congressional Dems who made promises to the middle class' feet to the fire.  And, if they brazenly disregard us and we discover that we've been lied to, we will reduce our support and move it to someone who truly "walks the talk".

      This is what progressives are made of.  The jury's still out right now as to what this administration is really made of.

  •  Jonathan Alter: The wrong surrogate (9+ / 0-)

    I can't believe my ears!  Both yesterday and today now on Andrea Mitchell Jonathan Alter of Newsweek is criticizing the progressives for "having lost sight of what's really important in this health care bill".  Huh??

    What is clear is that Jonathan Alter is a horrendous surrogate for the WH and is doing even more damage to O's base than Rahm and the Blue Dogs have done combined.  Does he really think we're that stupid that we will buy what he's selling? Does he really believe that this administration and congress cannot walk and chew gum at the same time?  The combination of healthcare reform (the addition of millions on healthcare rolls and Medicaid) will totally destroy not only america's working class but our entire economy if it is not combined with a public option to drive down the costs of doing so.

    Here's Alter's premise: We're losing sight of what really matters in this health care equation and that is THE MORAL IMPERATIVE of non-discrimination via the pre-existing conditions meme.  While he is accurate that this discrimination must stop, (and listen carefully) here's the rub and something which appears to have totally eluded this new surrogate - BY ENFORCING THIS NON-DISCRIMINATION ACTIVITY, THE PREMIUMS WE ARE PAYING FOR PRIVATE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE WILL ESCALATE - INCREDIBLY AND IMMEDIATELY!  We'll end up paying triple what we're paying in premiums right now to cover this sick population.  We, the premium holders of private insurance will surely get screwed since the CEO's and the corporate profiteers won't budge an inch when it comes to their 150% precedent-setting profits.'s precisely where the public option becomes critical - IF NOT TRUMPS - THE IMPORTANCE OF NON DISCRIMINATION DUE TO PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS - The public option is the ONLY (get that?) ONLY thing which will force insurance companies away from their record-setting vulgar profits.  Without a public option for those of us who will bear the brunt of covering existing conditions will be bankrupted - and immediately.

    Jonathan - if you're listening - please stop trying to trivialize the intelligence of the progressive left.  Your premise is bogus and you look like a pathetic sycophant out there trying to spin it.

    •  I enjoyed watching Ed Schulz thump Alder's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      melon-like head yesterday. Somebody stick a sock in that guy's mouth and send him back to Newsweek.

    •  I saw his argument with Ed Schultz yesterday. (3+ / 0-)

      Alter kept screaming, "It's a means to an end!" but it's not.

      Covering everyone without discrimination is only part of the problem. Just like mandates without a public plan, it's a giveaway to the insurance companies.

      I am really irritated with Alter. He said similar things last week on one of the MSNBC shows (I forget which, maybe Keith) and I was so angry I had to change the channel because I was yelling at the TV.

      He doesn't seem to get it that the public option needs to go in tandem with covering everyone or, just as you say, the insurance companies will be happy to "cover" everyone -- at the price they choose to charge us, with no incentive to ever cut costs. He seems to think that getting everyone insurance is the plan. No. Having health insurance coverage is no guarantee of access to health care.

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:40:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Occam's Razor: maybe the admin is actually (5+ / 0-)

    getting what they really want (or in the case of the public option, what they really didn't want)? Why not show them respect for their intelligence and be cynical enough to conclude they are basically full of shit!

  •  One way in which Obama has let the message (9+ / 0-)

    get away is by repeatedly portraying physicians as money grubbing whores who do not care fofr patient well being. This is not the fault of his policy wonks- it is Obama's fault.  Many physicians ( myself included) strongly favor single payor, or at least a public option.  But they traded away single payor at the beginning with no discussion at all- and then Obama went on to insult doctors repeatedly - saying that tonsillectomies were done "instead of a pill" beacuse they paid the doctor more. ( This is silly on its face, since very few tonsillectomies are done any more, and the physician who refers the patient to teh surgeon would make more keeping the patient as his own medical patient than sending him/her on to the surgeon.)  Then he said OBs do c-sections because they get paid more-yet the OBs I work with get the ssame- and have 4 days of follow-up rounding instead of 1.  They do c-sections because they get sued for vaginal deliveries, and get sued less often for c-sections. (that and babies weigh more than a pound more than just 10 years ago, during which time the birth canal has not evolved to be larger.  Blame McDonalds for the high c-section rate befoer teh doctors.)  then he said that orthopedic surgeons get paid $20,000-30,000 for an amputation, so they take off limbs willy-nilly.  But Medicare pays about $500 for an amputation, adn Medicaid pays much less.  Why needlessly antagonize adn demonize the very people who can forceable speak out against the rationing being providede by insurance companies?  Why send liberal doctors over to the otehr side? why??

    •  You're a doctor? sure don't read like one! (0+ / 0-)

      "Americans wish to be settled. Only so far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them" -Emerson.

      by kfd313 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:09:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But that doesn't undermine his point... (0+ / 0-)

        Which is OB's are risk-adverse.  As are most physicians -- wouldn't you be if you were afraid of a malpractice suit?

        My ex is a physician.  She can't retire because she can't afford the 7-year malpractice insurance tail that needs to be covered.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        -Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:33:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I 'm sorry (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        churchylafemme, AllisonInSeattle

        I wrote that during a break between cases in a busy OR.  If you like my typing, you'll love my handwriting.

        •  Laughing... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and can we assume your surgical work is equally accurate?

          Just joking. Some days I can't type for beans.

          Thanks for your work as a doc.

          I think Lakoff's pointing out the same thing you are -- these guys are shooting themselves in the foot over and over on this one.

          I keep wondering why?

          Maybe they're skilled campaigners, but not quite so good at gov't? Just asking.

          This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

          by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:34:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Self promotion alert: My diary rebuttal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly, TomP, kevin k

    On The Limits of Messaging Health Care

    Short story: our problem is less on message and more on the lack of a bill to promote.

  •  The problem with Lakoff's (5+ / 0-)

    very good points here is that he seems to assume most of what he lays out in different frames is what the Obama administration wants but just can't get it together to conceptualize due to wonks and policy-speak. Wrong. They're floundering b/c they don't want to have clear-cut progressive positions. Newsflash, George--They ain't progressives! Now, if you want to push not just the American people but the admin in charge towards adopting progressive concepts, what do you do?

    "Americans wish to be settled. Only so far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them" -Emerson.

    by kfd313 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:08:39 AM PDT

  •  Single Payer? Public Option? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, TomP

    I think the vast majority of Americans have no idea what those 2 phrases mean.  Yes, this has been bungled badly.

    "Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why." - Kurt Vonnegut

    by Wayneman on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:11:31 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the most brilliant and honest (9+ / 0-)

    presentations I have seen on the Kos site.  Framing is more important than fact in moving people to action.  That's just how we are wired.  Thank you for this diary.

  •  Public Option 'KEY" to moral imperative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, codairem

    If you hear it, don't buy it for a minute. That's the latest spew ala surrogata out there to discount the progressive support for the public option.  

    Jonathan Alter's moral imperative CANNOT and WILL NOT be accomplished except on the already broken backs of the american patient of private health care.

    Adding millions to the insurance companies (who are now not covered due to pre-existing conditions) will not solve the problem; in fact, those of us paying through the nose for private health care with outrageous deductibles and covering only 80% of any bill will bear the total brunt of doing this.
    We know that the insurance company profitteers will surely not back off from their greedy profits so the burden of paying for these sick new customers will be YOU and ME.

    A viable public option is the only "insurance" you and I have that we will not be the ones forced into bankruptcy in order to bring about this 'moral imperative'.

    No public option = no health care reform.

    Without a public option, this is just political nonsense.

  •  The American Plan was the Whig economic platform (0+ / 0-)

    call me superstitious, but I'd be hesitant to adopt the rhetoric of a dead party.

  •  If they sell us out, we will disappear (3+ / 0-)

    the young and the healthy are required to purchase private insurance without the option of a competing government-run plan — well, that’s reform the insurance companies can believe in.

    On top of selling out to Big Pharma on government buying power?

    Fuck off, and don't come looking for the youth vote in 10, fuck, don't ever come looking again Democrats.


  •  Get thee to the West Wing. (9+ / 0-)

    And WHY aren't you working for the administration again?

    You should be running weekly -- if not daily -- sessions with the staff on how to do this messaging stuff, and conducting classes for all Democratic spokespeople who appear on radio or TV on how to talk to people.

    For goodness sake, please at least send them this diary.

    Your points make so much sense, however, I'm not sure any of them would ever see the light of day.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:18:46 AM PDT

    •  We had better send the diary (0+ / 0-)

      If they haven't hired him, it doesn't bode well for our futures.

      Because -- why would they NOT hire Mr. Lakoff, or another person(s) with equal talent in this field.

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:28:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Think In The End We Will Have Many Choices (0+ / 0-)

    to pick from in an healthcare exchange and one of those options will be a government run option, and another one will be co-ops.  President Obama knows he is dog meat if he doesn't pass a bill with a public option, but he wants to get at least one repug on board so he will also have co-ops.  I don't know how it will work but those two options will be in the final bill.

    •  GAO Discredited the Co-Op Theme (0+ / 0-)

      Yesterday the GAO stated that the co-op concept cannot work because it will be too local and too small to have a raindrop's effect on Big Insurance.

      The co-op was made up by Kent Conrad when he was told to find something else because the insurance companies were applying the pressure.

      Co-ops will not work and certainly will have no heft over the rapist insurance companies.

  •  Maybe Obama heard the message (7+ / 0-)

    check out his message to religious leaders, fresh from the NYT online:

    WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.

    last paragraph (middle seemed like fluff to me)

    In a late-afternoon telephone call with religious leaders on Wednesday, Mr. Obama cast the difficulty of the health care debate in terms larger than his presidency, comparing it to the creation of Social Security and Medicare.

    “These struggles always boil down to a contest between hope and fear,” he said. “That was true in the debate over Social Security, when F.D.R. was accused of being a socialist. That was true when J.F.K. and Lyndon Johnson tried to pass Medicare. And it’s true in this debate today.”

    This kind of thing has to be repeated over and over again by a communications apparatus, but it looks like a start......I hope.

    •  Smirconish Radio Interview (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, betson08, TomP, Larsstephens, addisnana

      Caught the tail end of this interview with a right-wing conservative radio host (again pandering to the Republicans?)....when does he do an interview with Rachel or Ed?  Don't hold your breath, base.

      In it he seemed to clearly reiterate his support of the public option although he very carefully chose his words around it (much to my continued chagrin).

      Perhaps he's gotten the message?  If not, he will when he attempts to get his base out there pounding the pavement ever again for him.

      It's time for him to put up or shut up - to be the Yes, We can Man whom we believed in during the campaign.  Half measures won't reinstate his integrity in our minds at this point regardless of how altruistic or how idealistic we tend to be.

      We need this man to come forward (like a strong, confident president) and tell the american people that he has not deserted them.

      Anything less than this will not bring back his ever-shrinking base.

    •  Only he knows for sure (6+ / 0-)

      Taking the moral high ground may be all he has left in order to help reinstate confidence in his party right now.  It's always the tool of the last resort - to use God somehow as a means to an end.

      I take no issue with the fact that this is unlike buying a house or a car and has to deal with life/death issues which are moral by nature.  I also think that this message is a day late/dollar short.  The damage of the angry townhalls and disinformation coupled with the criticism by his administration of the left (trivializing us as left of left) is devastating to this White House. The constant doubletalk emanating from the WH this past weekend and week have only complicated things for them so they've become exasperated and shocked by the outrage - even from their own base.  Where have they been?  Under a rock? Have they forgotten how many times we've been lied to over the past 8 years, have been pimped by our leadership, and have been raped by corporate america?  We read that lesson:  Loud and Clear.

      What they've underestimated is not the anger of the base; they've totally underestimated the intelligence and ability to decipher and separate fact from fiction and hyperbole, that's what they've underestimated.  

      We recognize the moral high ground:  for goodness sakes, we've been screeching about how they've NOT taken the moral high ground regarding Bush crimes for 6 months now.  I think we, most of all, can apolitically recognize crime from truth....a lesson we've learned well.

      Do we have to continue to demand that campaign promises are being kept?  Do we, on the left (or the left of the lefty leftist left) have to be the ones to demand accountability every time?

  •  Good Communication Plan Would Have Been Air Cover (4+ / 0-)

    for Blue Dogs in marginal districts. We are still talking about a narrow consensus for change though. I think a good communication plan would take us from a bare majority for solid change to support in the mid fifties. We are still living in a country that had 46% vote for Palin for VP.

  •  Excellent stuff. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, don mikulecky, Larsstephens

    Put a power point together, and "teach" these guys how to frame the debate.  I pay attention, and I  do not have any idea what this administration wants.  They seem to be playing return soft return tennis to every slam serve played by the Republican's.  What a shame, after the hope and inspiration served during the campaign.  I sure hope we learn from this, and play hardball and offense during future policy debates.

  •  Oh wow. (7+ / 0-)

    You just cited Leibniz's Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles in order to slam Obama for being to wonkish in his communication.  After that I had this tune stuck in my head:

    Don't know much about ontology ...

    Mad props to you.

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:28:10 AM PDT

  •  Tipped & recc'd. (11+ / 0-)

    The first rule of effective communication is stating the positive in your own terms, not quoting the other side’s language with a negation.

    This is the polar opposite of complete and utter bullshit.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office. There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:28:16 AM PDT

  •  Who is in Charge of the Health Care R? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, don mikulecky, Larsstephens, kevin k

    Is it Obama and Sibelius etc....White house? Is it the House and Senate leaders? From the beginning of this mess, it has not been clear who is leading.

    Would better framing and communications help? Yes, but I honestly have no idea what the President and the Majority leader would be selling if they were crystal clear. At least the Speaker of the House is consistently clear about the "Public Option" being included.

    An early call from OFA asked me if I was behind the President. I asked if they could tell me what specifically that meant and they could not.

    So Barack Obama, "What are you for?" Not broad priniciples and objectives, but plainly you want all of us to have access to health care and to not go bankrupt in the process?
    Are you happy with America's race to the bottom of the list of countries in the developed world?

    •  Sick of the broad principles approach (5+ / 0-)

      No one can go out door to door because no one knows what this president is's shape shifting before our eyes.  Only a moron or a fool would ruin their community reputation to go to bat for something as nebulous and undefined as this "amoebia called healthcare reform".  

      I think we need to begin calling/writing the WH to demand equal time for Obama to appear on progressive radio like Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz

      His constant sucking up to the right (which spit in his face, BTW) is appalling at this point and is making him look foolish and naive - while destroying his own base.

      Is he so confident that he feels that progressives will remain there as the Reps do in lockstep?  Progressives don't work that way.  We use our minds, unlike the robots on the right.


      Who is his base at this point anyway?

  •  But whatever happened to... (0+ / 0-)

    ...11th dimensional chess?

    I will not speak with disrespect of the Republican Party. I always speak with respect of the past. -Woodrow Wilson

    by Gangster Octopus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:29:22 AM PDT

  •  Instead of "care for each other" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I say work together to protect ourselves.  Health is not an individual issue, it's a public issue--my health and habits affect you, my community, and the economy.

    It is better to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs than to meet a fool busy with a stupid project. -- Pr. 17:12

    by november3rd on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:32:33 AM PDT

    •  Care for each other vs. care for Big Insurance (0+ / 0-)

      If the radical right in congress wouldn't have enabled the corporate rape of the middle class, that would have qualified as "caring for each other".  Sadly, it's not going to change unless they are forced to change.

      Anything short of a public option means no change and yes, more cost to those already being raped by Big Insurance.

  •  great piece (3+ / 0-)

    I've been thinking that this should be framed as a moral debate....all the tough fights have been won in that way, civil rights being the prime example that comes to mind.

    I'm going to a town hall next week, what's the best thing to put on our signs?

  •  all this past tense is bullshit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snout, Drdemocrat

    A bill will pass.  It will be decent if not good.  Everybody's a critic.  As if 'messaging' makes a difference in a country where half of the people are so dumb it's a wonder they don't walk upside down.

    Andrew Mellon & GOP: 'In a Depression, assets return to their rightful owners'

    by Tuffie on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:35:44 AM PDT

    •  "Messaging" Worked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for Bush for 8 long, agonizing years. Whenever his base faltered, his people were out there with their message-- pounding it into their heads. The reason it works is exactly what you stated: the people on whom it worked are "so dumb it's a wonder they don't walk upside down".

      Messaging is working against us now with the "death panels" and "government taking all your money!" crap. The other side sees how well it works and they USE it. To our detriment.

      I've said before that I thought we should reframe the debate. Talk to them like they're used to be talked to. Use "Bush-ese" even. We saw through him then, remember? We saw the Orwellian tactics. But they worked for him. We don't have to go to his extreme (ex: Operation Iraqi Freedom...heh), but if we stoop to closer to that level I truly believe we will be heard in a more positive light.

  •  The problem with this is that Obama likes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    insurance companies because he believes in the free market.

    •  No problem with that but.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, gratis4, HCKAD, Larsstephens

      No problem with this philosophy since it is held by many; however, everyone concurs that healthcare is broken largely due to the insurance monopolies having a stranglehold on the system.  When something reaches such dire proportions as this system has, it's all well and good to attempt to mediate between opposing interests; however, who should come first?  The american people or the insurance companies?

      Sorry to say, Obama cannot have it both ways unless he has a public option.

      Again, we come full circle right back to the necessity of the public option.

      Insurance companies will do just fine enjoying decent profits.  It's those 150% profits on the backs of the people which are vulgar and need to be stopped.

      If people weren't suffering and dying, then I say whoopie to the free market concept.  

      Unfortunately, this IS a LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION FOR MANY AND HEALTH CARE RATIONING AT IT'S VERY WORST.  I find it incredulous to hear people complaining about rationing when it's occurring every minute of every day that someone cannot afford insanity of it all.

  •  Thank you for this. (7+ / 0-)

    Your book really helped this Dean supporter refocus after his loss in 2004 and Kerry's loss. It made me a better volunteer for Obama -- I thought carefully about how I spoke to people's doors I knocked on.

    The main takeaway from this is:

    It's not too late. We need to work harder to sell the public option -- I mean The American Plan -- better. But it's not too late for it.

    The Rapture will be cancelled due to budget cuts. -- Bill in Portland

    by brooklynliberal on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:42:52 AM PDT

    •  Second this. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, annan, gratis4, Larsstephens

      I also found Lakoff's ideas really helpful during canvassing.  So, when Lakoff, Smith and Haas published their health care reform principles on HuffPo on May 8th, I printed it out and kept it.  I use their ten principles frequently when I write to my Senators and Rep., and when talking to people who "aren't sure".  Simple, short, positive, emotional: the principles have effective responses to most of the doubts people have.  

      It was Lakoff et al. who made me realize just how little in the way of "script" OFA had given us to go on.   Dean and DFA have been much better.

  •  Kind of frustrating (8+ / 0-)

    Organizing for America (the old Obama campaign network) can’t even get its own troops out to work for the President’s proposal.

    When I canvassed and phonebanked, there were lists and we had the specific objective which was to identify our supporters and get out the vote.

    I am uncomfortable (as are many) to discuss or debate policy.  And, there are many versions of the bill in committee -- all but one has a public option.

    I was a bit mystified when President Obama said that we have to "knock on doors".  After all, we knocked on doors and elected Obama as well as Democratic majorities in both houses of congress.  I feel, to an extent, that we did our part and now it is the Dems turn to do their part.

    Having said this, I'm willing to knock on doors however I need a walk list and specific objectives before I pester my neighbors.  :)

    There has been no town hall meeting in my area, btw.  I certainly would go to show my support of HCR.

    •  I'm with you. (5+ / 0-)

      Kevin, I'm with you ... I sacrificed a lot last year to get Obama & Co. elected.

      When they started asking me to make calls and knock on doors again to discuss or debate policy with strangers, I balked. I need good health insurance, I am passionate about this and I do my part with friends and family.

      But I also have to work to keep the roof over my head and food on the table. I cannot be a full-time Obama volunteer.

      I agree ... it's time for them to do the job we elected them to do.

      "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

      by annan on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:19:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  one of the private organizations, or one of us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gratis4, Larsstephens

    should create a TV spot about "the American Plan".

    get as many of these memes as possible into one ad and blanket the country with it.

    tell all the spokespeople to use the same language.

    we can't fight emotion with facts, or "policy speak"!  time for us to get our simple emotional appeal together NOW.

    there is still time to turn this ship around.

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

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:45:56 AM PDT

  •  Psychiatry 101 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was wondering what will happen when the 20%ers realize that they need psychiatric help following these town halls and domestic terrorist rallies.  They'll be the very ones flooding the healthcare market or helping to break it's back by not having the coverage they need.

    Wouldn't that be Pavlovian?

  •  Big Insurance/Not People fighting this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's being revealed that these trumped up actors at the town halls are being promoted by self-interested "players" in the healthcare insurance industry.  We knew that.  Now we have proof.

    so what's next?  

    I say it's time to put the peddle to the metal and begin to flood Congress with email about the public option.  Hell, the Big Polluters are already out there ginning up their paid actors for the climate change town halls while we type....

  •  Alternative names: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catfood, CMYK

    The Middle Class Option
    The Competitive Option
    The Safeguard Option
    The Medicare for All Option
    The Deficit Reduction Option
    The Smart Economy Option
    The National Defense Option
    The Unity Option
    The Thrifty Option
    The Health for All Option

  •  Co-Op: Just a synonym for Screwjob (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly, CMYK

    Don't be fooled by the sound of a co-op (especially susceptible are my age group - flower children, peaceniks, and altruists).  We associate the term 'co-op' because it largely has a very positive connotation as in the word 'cooperative' (meaning getting along ala cumbaya style) or some of the produce co-ops created in the 70's to get better produce to the people.

    When applied to health insurance, it cannot work for two reasons:

    1. Co-ops will be (pardon my northern french) a "pisshole in the snow" in terms of having any clout with big insurance, big pharma, big medicine, etc.
    1.  Co-ops will have to do the very same thing we are chastising the insurance companies for doing - only taking "healthy patients"; otherwise, the tiny co-op runs aground.

    I'm sure the PR people worked long and hard at labeling this one but you have to get up pretty early in the morning to squeek anything by a progressive....:)

  •  the most important DKOS diary in years (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for this analysis. It is essential to say the least to understand how the brain works if you want to be effective politically. In my experience, particularly in government, language reflects commitment and integrity.  

    If you look at the state of the left in the sixties you will see a very strong use of language that had a dramatic effect on society even though the left was as small a minority as it is today. Also if you look at real leftists on the internet (DKOS is not a real progressive voice but, rather, just a branch of the official Democratic Party) you will see very straigtforward use of language. For example Michael Hudson's interview on KPFA's "Guns and Butter" by using the term "criminals" constantly because, clearly that is what the oligarchs that dominate our societies are (literally since he was speaking of many bankers and public officials who enable them.

    The current Democratic establishment including the WH does not actually want the reforms they claim to want so they use very soft and ambiguous language which is designed to weaken their official position. I've been watching this for a long time and I can personally assure you that the Democratic establishment follows the money as much as the Republicans do--they are just dishonest about it.

    Still you are showing up the incompetence of the Democratic establishment which I believe is deliberate which I can say for having lived and worked inside the beltway for 25 years.

  •  Dr. Lakoff is missing the point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lakoff is evidently assuming that he knows what the administration wants, and that the only problem is the language they are using.

    I think that the problem is that at least a portion of the administration does not want a public option to succeed, and that its only purpose was to mobilize people to get Obama elected.  The new goal is to make sure that the corporate contributions keep flowing to the Democratic party, so any bill has to be designed to preserve profits for everyone.

  •  Obama is the President, not Rahm. Rahm.......... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, bob zimway, Larsstephens

    needs to learn that, just as Hillary did.  Rahm seems to think that he is the leader of the Blue Dog insurgency.  That is not the appropriate position for the President's Chief of Staff.  Obama has captured the Blue Dog's leader by tempting him with the power of the Chief of Staff position.  Rahm being the power hungry guy that he is, couldn't help but take it.  When Rahm fails, he'll finally learn his place.  You don't wave your middle finger at the American people for long before becoming irrelevant.

    •  Well He's Leadingthe Movement That Revolutionized (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      politics, conservative Democratic centrism.

      Until somebody forces him to think differently, he's going to continue to act like king of the world.

      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 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:15:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most Americans "Know" Our Health Sys is #1 (0+ / 0-)

    --I'm convinced.

    Everything from Obama & WH tells me they presume Americans all know our system is not good.

    I'd love to see polling on the question of where the public thinks we rank.

    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 Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:14:18 PM PDT

  •  He's letting Rahm run wild (0+ / 0-)

    that boy needs a shorter leash

    America likes Medicare.

    by bob zimway on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:22:11 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, Thanx! You are right on! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, elsibiades

    Next time I tell you someone from Texas should NOT be president of the United States, please pay attention. In Memory of Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

    by truebeliever on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:29:09 PM PDT

  •  From a communication standpoint (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, gratis4

    I think they have completely lost the debate. They allowed the right wing to hijack the agenda and then control the media coverage. Now the WH is trying to pull back the discussion to whether or not a public option is key. Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick! That's completely central, basic and already represents a compromise position. They are violating basic tenets of issues management and are literally contradicting themselves on a daily basis lately. Major major fail. I hate to say this out loud but Obama is not nearly as good as I thought he was.

    "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." Barack Obama August 5, 2008

    by thefretgenie on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:40:25 PM PDT

  •  Obama's HC is going (roughly) acc'ding to plan. (3+ / 0-)

    In his first health care reform meeting, awy back months ago, I remember Obama saying

    1. he liked to work bi=partisanly
    1. that meant he would listen to Repub ideas & use the good ones, but that
    1. if Repubs just wanted to "blow the whole thing up" he'd
    1. just go ahead & pass the legislation.

    Sounds like the script we've been following along with, huh?

    Maybe Lakoff's another worrier?

    •  Worrier or not: Hope for the best but prepare (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maracucho, GayHillbilly

      for the worst...

      The last 8 years have proven it is essential that we stay vigilant.  Pay attention.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with making sure, re-stating our understanding, that we are all on the same page.

      The last 8 years have proven that we can be flim-flammed and lied to, and suddenly shock sets in when it is toooooooo late.

      Dissention is patriotic - what this country was founded on. Keep his feet to the fire and we will get there.  

      Next time I tell you someone from Texas should NOT be president of the United States, please pay attention. In Memory of Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

      by truebeliever on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:45:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "I don't worry 'bout nothin (0+ / 0-)

      cause worrying's a waste of my time"

      Guns N Roses, circa 1987

  •  I said at the start calling it the public option (6+ / 0-)

    was a poor choice. Although I am a big fan of public services many people associate it negatively by connecting it to things like public housing, public transportation, and public schools. Many people see public housing as delapidated tenements populated by drug addicts and criminals, public transportation as annoying or even disgusting, and public schools as a failure. And, to top it off, calling it the public option makes it sound like welfare, which, being a disabled person, I also strongly support.

    I suggested calling it the citizen financed option but, unfortunately, that didn't take off. Can you imagine how easy it is to disarm the protestors by saying, "Why would you want to stop your fellow citizens from financing their health care?" Citizen is a great word and financed says that it will be paid for by the participants as opposed to the chronic mischaracterization of the public option as welfare for them other folks. I would have loved to seen Beck, O'Reilly, etc. railing against citizen financed health care.

    Krusty the Klown Brand Irate Emoticons (tm) So You Can Express the Hate You Didn't Know You Had!

    by brentbent on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:52:36 PM PDT

    •  I think this is exactly the imagery that comes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to mind from this phrase.  My brother, who is a primary care doctor in the Mayo Clinic system, has exactly that image of the VA.  He wants nothing to do with being a part of a system that will be like any of the existing government programs.  (doctors are mostly only slightly hostile to Medicare--the low reimbursement is balance by much more prompt payment and less hassle)

      Anyway, I think you made a VERY insightful point about the mental imagery that kicks in for a lot of people when they just hear the phrase and start imagining what a new system favored by Democrats might look like.

  •  Thanks for the perfect frame on this issue: (7+ / 0-)

    Insurance company plans have failed to care for our people. They profit from denying care. Americans care about one another. An American plan is both the moral and practical alternative to provide care for our people.

    This is all anyone who wants genuine healthcare system reform really needs to say, perhaps with the addition that only a public plan can succeed where the private sector has so obviously failed.

    But I'm afraid this diary gets to the real heart of the problem in the opening paragraph--the point at which I hit the rec button.  Team Obama, as noted, are masters of political speech, as they have proven so many times throughout 2007 and 2008.  Doesn't their failure after all this time to come up with, and stick to, even a coherent (let alone controlling) healthcare system reform message rather suggest that they don't really want to come up with one?

    "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

    by keikekaze on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 12:53:15 PM PDT

    •  All you need to say? (0+ / 0-)

      Where's the proof that American's believe the government won't fail them too. We like MEcicare but it is unsustainable and it;s costs are growing much faster than the income of retirees or the tax base that supports it.

      Most people's experience with their insurance company is without drama, after all 50 percent of the population accounts for only 3% of health spending in any given year.  Frankly this is just old fashioned bashing of whatever villain you choose.

      Also this statement implies quite heavily that the government is going to take over all your health care. isn't that playing directly into the hands of the other sides demagogues.

      Last, since when do insurance plans provide care?

  •  Wonderful diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly, elsibiades

    I believe you are exactly right. Your points are excellent.

    However, on another note, your writing could be greatly improved by editing.  The number of words could be cut by approximately half and still say everything you want to say, only much more readably.

    A lot of people will not read what you say because they get bogged down in too many words. It's an easy problem to fix, if you get with a good editor.

  •  asking for help here in KY: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is going to be an "informational meeting" held in my county next Thursday.  It is sponsored by the people running several of the local radio stations. It's clear what the agenda is, as the station manager emailed me something about how we all have a right to our opinions about "government controlled healthcare."

    Here is the link:

    Western Kentucky Healthcare Meeting

    Here is Karen Farthing's most recent commentary--note she is one of the people starring in the "answering questions" role:

    Farthing's commentary on HB 3200

    I would appreciate any help in refuting her specific talking points--my thinking is that we will have progressives there to ask questions about specific items on her list, for example I would target the item on the early intervention program for families. It looks to me like she got her information not from doing her own research on the bill, as she claims, but rather she read right-wing talking points and is simply copying them.  

    We already have a Republican controlled major daily newspaper and they own the TV station too.  There are no avenues for progressives to get there message out here, so this forum will be important.  I do think we can get plenty of progressives to this meeting but I'd like us to be well-prepared. Fortunately we can see ahead of time what she will be claiming.  Also there is a physician scheduled and he has already written a guest editorial for the paper stating all we should be doing is reforming Medicare, nothing else is appropriate until we get it straightened out.  He is a Republican also.  

    Suggestions on language framing ala Lakoff also appreciated. thanks to all who respond!

    •  Instead of refuting points, suggest kids future (0+ / 0-)

      Jeffrey Feldman's diary today follows up on this one. He writes about big ideas, and a better future for our children.

      You might try to link their talking points to consequences for children and their future.

      And if the Republican physician wants to talk Medicare, you might want to roll with that one: Let "reform" include Medicare for kids. You may not have to say Medicare for all, if you get people interested in Medicare for kids it puts them down a slippery slope toward Medicare for all.


      Political compass goes 3-D: -9,-8,+10. The view looks different from "up".

      by etbnc on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 02:26:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The wingnuts and I are divorced (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, gratis4, leema

    We still have children in common, but I seriously dislike them and prefer they not live near me.  There is no framing that will cure this.  It is not a matter of semantics.  I realized years ago that they were primarily emotional, but they also like to lie, control, dominate and are greedy.  Defeating the combination of military-industrial complex, health insurance complex, multi-national financial complex and southern idiocy is pretty tough especially when they own the media.  It is the same coalition found in Germany before the war.  Obama really is hope, but I am mostly hoping we can get through this without more ugly violence.

  •  Too true. Well said. (0+ / 0-)

    The right ideas at the right time.

    I'm OK with the promo, too. :)

  •  THANKS AND (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, gratis4, Larsstephens, DrFitz

    The LANGUAGE is a huge part. Republicans have shown in the past and are showing now that AMERICANS ARE STUPID and will side against their best interest over the right phrase :
    Death Panel
    Death Tax
    Clean Air Act
    Gang Violence
    Elitist Liberals

    All of those phrases won or garnered much support for an election-gang violence was W's catch phrase/ debating point for every issue on his way to being Governor of Texas. Well, OK, death panel is winning a debate, but you see what I mean.
    If we are so damned smart, why can't we come up with a phrase to push shit through? The PATRIOT Act is an example of pure bullshit, but who challenges the word Patriot ?
    See, Karl Rove, W, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon - say what you must of them :criminal, treasonous bastard, war criminal, wife beater, supporter of terrorists, human rights violator - all the words stick to all of them, but make no mistake the men could control a debate. We have a president with more charisma than any before and a few decent policies ; Why can't he get someone to write a power phrase for him that pulls support ?

    If healthcare is lost, I see disillusion and a ruff 2 years leading up to reelection.

  •  Sound Bite size: (5+ / 0-)

    A healthy America is a Strong America

    American Health Plan for Americans

    Morality not Money
    Healthcare not Wealthcare

  •  No--it should be Mayo Clinic Care for all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, DrFitz

    Medicare for all makes no sense unless you are advocating a single payer system. Medicare is taxpayer subsidized care. The beneficiaries singly or collectively are not paying for their own care. They do pay a portion, Medicare part B premiums cover about 25% of the Part B costs, but the taxpayers (some of whom are also on Medicare) are footing the rest of the bill. As for Part A, most of that is financed by the payroll tax, which of course is being paid by workers. The average Medicare recipient will use more care than they have previously paid for in payroll taxes.

    Medicare is fantastically popular among it's beneficiaries because it is a great deal for them. The other popular association is that it is running out of money. How hard is it to say, if we can;t afford the Medicare we have now, how are we gonna afford it if everyone gets it. Who is gonna pay?

    Why are we not talking about "Mayo Clinic for all", instead? The best actual medical care possible at an affordable cost.

    Never mind that insurance coverage is not health care. The negative association made with a government sponsored or public plan is that it will use it's power to force providers to lower their prices. That will result in a lower supply and longer queues. Ther are all sorts of landmines there.

    Just calling it "The American Plan" makes no sense to me, because don't you eventually have to explain what it is? Don't you have to use the words "public", or "government" in there? It seems to me we should just be calling this the "Non-profit option" You can make it a government chartered corporation or whatever, but the point would be that the insurance middleman is not going to be taking out a profit.

    The alternative approach is to push a policy that promises to provide better health care--higher quality with much less waste. It's what Mayo Clinic and a significant number of other places do. It's just better-- the way Toyota made better cars than GM.

    I don't care who is paying for it, but I want Mayo Clinic style health care for all.

  •  waaaay too long, Prof. Lakoff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsibiades, DrFitz

    I waded through most of it; can't you make the point in much less space?

    Also, are you retained by the WH to help them formulate effective messaging? It seems not, but I wish they would

    •  An ironic truth despite the fabulous point (0+ / 0-)

      In fact, the same thought prompted me to post a friend's letter elsewhere as a diary; in it, I thought the writer nicely boiled down the same point to:

      "Less Teaching, More Preaching"

      Won't pimp the diary here, but will just say I agree with you that the ideas are dead on but the medium is a little tendentious.

  •  Obama's own government isn't helping him. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Look at the programs he's already passed, the bailout has barely been dispersed almost a year later, and the Cash for Clunkers plan can't process most of the applications in a timely manner.

    Selling the public option means selling the idea that government can be more efficient and fairer than private enterprise.  

    He's not having a lot of luck demonstrating that.  Getting his existing ducks in order will make the argument for expanding government power much more convincing.  If that means mass government firings, so be it.

  •  "The medicare option" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor

    While "The American option" or "the American plan" would be excellent, with enough groundwokr laid early, there is an easier way: "the Medicare option", "the universal Medicare option", or "the Medicare option for everyone" as has been mentioned by other commenters above.


    Medicare is vastly popular by seniors, by republicans, by independents, by conservatives and so on. Seems like most on these circles don't know it's government run....

    The Medicare "option" makes it is clear it is "optional", not forced on "everyone" (which would be better, but that would be single-payer)

    The medicare option should be tagged "universal" or "for everyone". I.e. open to everyone, forced on noone.

    Added value: The necessary institutions exist already, running Medicare, and everyone knows it.

    It is time to bring back this time-honoured tradition: We never go to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.

    by PoliticGeek Pro on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 02:17:56 PM PDT

    •  Problems (0+ / 0-)

      This is a way advocate for a single payer system, which goes far beyond what the "public option" has so far represented. Medicare is taxpayer subsidized retire health care. Are you saying that whoever wants it can get a government subsidy?

      Also what about the fact that non-seniors concern with Medicare is that it is massively underfunded.

      As for existing institutions, Mecicarfe costs are growing faster than our ability to pay for it. It costs 3 times as much in Miami as Portland. There are plenty of institutional issues with Medicare.

      •  Medicare needs reform (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and the right is having an easy time scaring seniors into thinking reform means denying them needed care. Still, even with Medicare costs going up they are not going up nearly as fast as private health insurance premiums.

        What we really need is a CBO estimate of what Medicare would cost if it were open to relatively young, healthy people--some percentage of the 50 million uninsured.

        We also need to require that employers include the cost of health insurance on people's paystubs. Most people with employer-based health insurance have no idea how much of their paycheck is going to the insurance companies.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:32:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mostly agree (0+ / 0-)

          Medicare spending has increased at a rate similar to private insurance. It's less but not that much less (something like 10% vs 9%)

          Expanding coverage under MEdicare will cost the government more money. CBO won't tell us what the net cost is to society. That said, Current Medicare enrollees receive a rather large government subsidy. if there were to be a Medicare buy-in it would have to be on a different funding basis.
          The Medicare reform I would like to see is changing the payment system away from fee-for service and more to something that incents organized evidence based high quality care.

          I agree that it would be desirable to show people the true cost of their insurance. I find the President explains this rather well.

          •  Working people pay Medicare taxes (0+ / 0-)

            If Medicare were the Public Option, it would be part of the insurance exchange and would working/uninsured persons would pay a premium that was somewhere between one-third to one-half less than private plans. Considering that these new enrollees would be younger and healthier than those presently covered, that should  improve the finances...right now Medicare only covers the populations most likely to need expensive care. If persons under 65 and not disabled could enroll and pay higher premiums, it would bend the cost curve the other way.

            "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

            by Alice in Florida on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:36:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  If it's just programmed in the brain (0+ / 0-)

    and not about ideas, then how could we not do what Lakoff suggests? How--that is, with what organ of the body--could we even conceive of another way to do it? This diary attributes way too much knowledge to neuroscience. The "science" that George is talking about is just a strongly-stated set of speculations based on certain correlations between behavioral studies and neuroimaging studies. If you want an opposing view, just come back next year and you will see it offered as "teh science", with all these current ideas tossed cavalierly into the oubliettes.

    Instead of attempting to use neuroscience to support political ideas by inference and extrapolation, it would be much better to use actual empirical studies of their application, or, failing that, at least to defend them on their own intrinsic merits.

    Greg Shenaut

  •  Framing Diary W/ Bold & Talking Points! Georgie (4+ / 0-)

    baby! go dude go!

    of course, the policy wankers are gonna ignore you,


    the fuckers are gonna ignore you anyway!

    they really really only listen to each other -- in the sense, that they need to know what are the coolest 90 dollar socks and the coolest 700 dollar frames for glasses

    and the the latest excuses for fucking losing!

    - 100's of DC Dems - 1000's of staffers doing communications, press relations, public relations, media


    - 'message' that ain't worth a fuck since ... I was 20 in 1980 against ronnie raygun? against prop 13 in '78?

    thank you, thank you, thank you!


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 02:27:54 PM PDT

  •  Better watch out. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, Larsstephens

    With this kind of "fact-free" diary, you're likely to draw the ire of Mr. Houle.

    (I'm a big fan of your work, by the by)

  •  Close -- Mr. Lakoff -- but not quite there. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There's a little too much behaviorism in your theory.  It assumes that framing health reform in language the right finds appealing is enough to cause them to be more receptive.  You're forgetting that tied into their emotional attachment to all that jingo is certain ideas about the role of government -- including negative ideas about governemt.

    You'd get boo'd off the stage -- immediately -- by suggesting a government health care program is "American" and "patriotic."  That contradicts the concepts they associate with those terms.  To them -- "American" means market driven and free of government intrusion.  They are very much dependent on past experience and things that seem obvious -- very lacking in intuitive skill -- and therefore very lacking in big picture thinking.  They believe "socialism" is primarily defined as government-run and they view government-run anything as a step closer to socialism.  And -- because they associate socialism with failed countries and capitalism with successful countries -- they believe socialism is an absolute path to failure and capitalism the only path to success.

    The framing you speak of works well for conservatives because conservatives use those words to defend ideas those people strongly associate with those words.  You cannot just give those words a different meaning and think they'll just follow along and adopt those new meanings.

    The current path lies in the middle -- the people less ideologic.  They're torn -- unsure -- and more likely to go with the status quo if all we do if offer them more catch phrases.  So -- the thing to do is let the right make their case -- which so far has been "Obama is a nazi with a fake birth certificate" -- while civilly making our own.  Fear grabs the attention of the middle in the beginning -- but reason will eventually win out.

    There are no robots merely responding to programming.  Everybody leans toward what appeals most to them -- and resists what doesn't.  You may not easily see the "logic" behind what they do -- but there is personal "logic" behind their choices and they're not acting out based on conditioning anymore than any of us are.  They choose what makes sense to them just as much as the brightest among us do.  It's a spectrum.  Some of us just decide using more input and better developed processing than others -- that's all.

    Reframing doesn't work unless you reframe an issue in a way that addresses the needs of your intended audience.  You can call something somebody disagrees with anything you like -- but you won't change their minds unless you say something to convince them that you're probably right.

    •  You are not speaking to them though. (0+ / 0-)

      They're the opposing council and the American Public is the jury.

      Let them jump up and down and scream about America not being about government support of the population.

      Interstate Highways.

      Perhaps we should get rid of Medicare then?

      Let's dump the VA.

      Let's get rid of the SEC.

      Privatize the military!

      Let's get rid of all that socialist crap.

      When you're arguing in the court of public opinion you don't need to agree with the opposing council's staff.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 04:30:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not just a matter of addressing "needs" (0+ / 0-)

      It's a matter of speaking in a way that resonates, which for moderates requires more subtlety that simply wrapping yourself in the flag. The key is finding out what people want--what they would say they want--and using those terms to promote your policy. That's the difference between Lakoff and Luntz--the Republicans have been successful because they do market research on their terms instead of just pulling them out of the air as Lakoff does.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:36:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Freedom from anxiety (3+ / 0-)

        That's the main psychological need.  The reassurance that genuine reliable insurance is supposed to provide but does not currently come close to doing currently.  The other thing they ought to focus on is redirecting anger at CEOs generally to the especially bad behavior and greed in the health insurance sector.  These guys are better villains than the scary government if the messaging is done right.

    •  at specter's town hall a screamer said (0+ / 0-)

      the government shouldn't be interfering in health care, the governmen'ts only - ONLY! responsibility is to protect our borders and the citizenry from terrorists. That's a pretty fear-based approach to life.

  •  Superb as usual, Mr. L. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, eXtina

    My only quibble is you overemphasize the negative situation at hand, I don't think it's as bad as you paint it. However, your assessments of what occurred and what needs to be done in terms of framing are outstanding.

  •  I hate to oversimplify this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But the biggest reason why the Obama campaign was considered the best organized or best framed campaign in history and now they aren't doing so hot.... this is because of two things:

    1.  Demographic.  Target audiences.  In a primary you are preaching to the choir, and most Dems would come together and root for the success of whoever won.   now the target audience is people who are making it their business to make Obama unsuccessful no matter what he attempts.  Even the people are not racially motivated understand the value of that kind of noise and how it infects public discourse.

    I could even be elitist and point out -- self-servingly of course -- that Dems are smarter and more receptive to a complex discussion about an issue, and now Obama is having to win over morons who can't comprehend anything but a patriotic war cry.

    So there's that.  And I don't think reframing things solves all that.

    1.  There's also the media.  People don't like to admit it, the media did put Obama on the spot a few times, but it has to be considered pretty obvious that Obama had a preference for Obama over someone they had been conditioned and rewarded to make fun of for the last 15 years.

    Now the media, well, I don't think the media really prefers a public option here.  Some do.  The media isn't monolithic, but I think an aggregate assessment will show that the media is not on Obama's side on this issue.

    I don't know if reframing things solves this either.

  •  I'm kind of blown away (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that you actually believe saying words like the "American Plan" will accomplish anything at all.

    I mean really. What makes you think the media give a shit about anything democrats say? They don't, unless the democrat is bashing other democrats.

    If the administration and congressional democrats started going around talking about "the American Plan," what would happen is no different from what is currently happening.

    Republicans will still be endlessly invited to appear on each and every cable and network news show and channel, call Obama a socialist, or fascist, or imply that he wants to murder old people.  All newspapers, magazines, and television shows would parade and endless supply of Newt Gingriches expressing their disappointment at how the "angry left" has taken control of Obama.  A non-stop stream of crazies like Orly Taitz and Sarah Palin will discuss similarities between Obama and Hitler.  We will still hear months of irony-free, false op-eds accusing democrats of not being civil.  

    And the vast bulk of the current media will not only decline to challenge the insanity, they will pretend the insanity is a serious argument, or will actively promote it.

    Then the next round will be about how Obama has "lost momentum"; "will he be a one-term president"; "the American people are growing disappointed in his failures". And on, and on.

    You can "frame" all you want, but the real problem in this country is the stupid, complicit, right-wing-adoring media.

  •  What a load of crap (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lakoff says the majority of the country still wants a public option.  If that's the case (and it is), this isn't about being "outframed" by the teabaggers.  

    You'd never know it from reading Mr. Lakoff's crap, but there are a lot more powerful forces at work than framing.  Like money and lobbyists.

    Me thinks Mr. Lakoff doesn't care a thing about healthcare reform - just selling books and landing more high profile consulting gigs.

  •  Medicare for all Americans = AmeriCare n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  This diary should've been written months ago! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gratis4, DrFitz

    The Professor is mostly correct, but unfortunately, he, like many other Progressives, didn't think such preparation was necessary until our opponents started kicking our azz.

    This should have been part of the blueprint for the net roots since March. We wasted so much time.

    But as he said, it's not too late. It's not too late for him and others to unite with the rest of us and push hard for real reform instead of getting bogged down and distracted.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:00:43 PM PDT

  •  bush's mistake, again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b

    he learned from Hillary's 'mistake,' and decided to do the opposite, leave it all up to congress and not insist on anything. Then, he got surprised that with no leader to hide behind, congress looked out for their own individual butts with their own fund-raisers and fat-cat contributors.  But, he can learn from this, he can say, well I thought I was voted in on bipartisanship, but they didn't care about my hope message, so now I"ll lead, I also promised bottom up and the people that voted me in want a public option, so if it goes down in congress it won't be because I ducked and left them to work it out themselves, I want the people to get what they want, medicare as an option to purchase as insurance. If we stick government money into lower income insurance, it'll be right into a government program and not into some for-profit business that hasn't met their obligation to serve the people.  

    Then, that's experience, learning from experience.  

  •  The American Care plan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How about "Americare"?

  •  Brilliantly Excellent Diary!!! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    ~we study the old to understand the new~from one thing know ten thousand~to see things truly one must see what is in the light and what lies hidden in shadow~

    by ArthurPoet on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:34:51 PM PDT

  •  against RW radio dems can't frame an outhouse (0+ / 0-)

    the uses a nail gun and dems use rocks because every day 1000 radio stations set up a smorgasbord of prechewed talking points for the lazy and  corporate leaning trad media to pick through.

    dems have nothing to compare to that coordinated uncontested repetition

    ignoring the talk radio monopoly continues to be the biggest political blunder in decades

    by certainot on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:39:17 PM PDT

  •  I am not a fan of diaries that say "what should (0+ / 0-)

    have been done".

    I much prefer diaries of "what the hell we do now?"

    Obama 7/09: "Don't bet against us" (unless the Dems screw it up).

    by Drdemocrat on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:47:39 PM PDT

  •  Emotion vs. Reason/Logic - yet again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it always comes down to this. Right wing uses emotions to convey their points and ideas, left wing uses (tries to) logic and reason. successfully, In campaigns, and now in striking down HCR. Emotions always win out over logic.

  •  Utterly brilliant post. <nt> (3+ / 0-)

    "America - The land where no one is allowed to mind his own business." William S Burroughs

    by shmuelman on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 05:54:36 PM PDT

  •  Reason is normative. (0+ / 0-)

    If most people thought that 2+2=5 I would try to convince them otherwise, not acquiesce to "real math as revealed by neuroscience".  Similarly, the fact that psych studies show humans regularly fall for a host of logic and probabilistic fallacies has shook my confidence in logic and probability theory not one bit and I am completely uninclined to revise those theories on the basis of "how people really think as revealed by science".  Your psychologism strikes me as just fundamentally, philosophically confused.

    Democrats should be trying to raise the bar in this debate, not sinking to the Republican level.  Trying to "frame" things so that people who disagree with you on policy are unpatriotic is despicable and I don't care if it's effective in the short run because in the long run it's a path to fascism.  

    Also, you're completely off base about the intellectual trends of the enlightenment.  "Reason is the slave of passion", dontchaknow.  It's just a complete historical caricature to "frame" the era in the way that you do.  Of course, if it serves your rhetorical ends.... no?

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 06:32:02 PM PDT

  •  Stopped reading at the first sentence. (0+ / 0-)

    How the hell am I supposed to take anything you say seriously after that start?

  •  This is amazing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevvboy, churchylafemme, DrFitz

    I need to show this to mr. o--I was trying to explain this very concept, framed as "language" and "the power of repetition", and this is, essentially, what I was trying to say:

    "The media have debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times." It then gives a list of 40 cases of debunking, each one of which uses the term "death panels." And you wonder, after so many debunkings, why it is still believed? Each "debunking" reinforced the idea.

    Yeah, been there, done that, one night not long ago, actually, watching MSNBC. It struck me just so suddenly (a total WTF moment, really). In segment after segment, where their various hosts spun a lot of spectacular, articulate--and truthful--debunking of "death panels", every last damn guest, host, or film clip (hell, even a commercial at one point) used that very same phrase over and over again.

    Hellooooo??? McFly, is there anybody in there? Simple repetition is reinforcement, period. Whether you're "debunking" or not doesn't matter.

    The first rule of effective communication is stating the positive in your own terms, not quoting the other side’s language with a negation.

    This is such an important lesson in an outstanding diary. This English major thanks you :)

    Necessity is the mother of revolution...

    by o the umanity on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 07:16:15 PM PDT

  •  I hope to God the WH reads this!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, Tchrldy

    The President did seem to get past Policy Speak slightly today.  Some of his communications did seem better than the dry wonk-speak he's been using lately.

    The problem is that his "folksy" belt and suspenders analogy makes me even more afraid that he still doesn't get it about how critical the public option is.  PO is not some extraneous just-in-case back-up to the rest of the reform package.  Nobody but a moron thinks regulation is any kind of reliable belt.  The insurers will just yank down the fly and piss all over us anyway.

    So I came away more worried than ever that Glenn Greenwald is right about the Admin desires and intentions.  Seems like Jim Messina may be really fucking up the strategy.

    As Keith said on MSNBC, I hope he realizes that he may have no Democratic pants if he goes down this compromise sell-out path.  You can count on it, Dem powers that be!!

  •  What we need to do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is focus on getting the Dem party to enact Lakoff's ideas.  The first thing they need to do is spend money on training spokespeople, like the Republican party does.  Communication infrastructure is what we need.  The Republican party treats Luntz like the golden goose.  We need to do the same with Lakoff and his ideas.  Now how do we influence the Democratic party to do this?  How did the Republicans do it.

  •  I keep wondering why we don't hear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    more framing of the health care crisis in America as a threat to National Security. First, it's true. And second, what better way to appeal to the gun-toting birthers, America-loving deathers and the scared elderly people?

    Seriously. When almost every other industrialized country has lower infant mortality rates, lower obesity rates (particularly among its children), lower cancer rates, lower incidences of heart disease (and the list goes on and one), it's not hard to imagine the day when America is struggling to stay competitive in any number of areas.  

    I'd like to see the Republicans come up with a cogent response (other than "Obama is un-American for even suggesting such a thing) to this very real possibility.

  •  Use more personal stories (0+ / 0-)

    I thought Joe the Plumber was stupid but it was nevertheless effective.

    Mary with Cancer or Sam with the brain tumor...  And moreover, these could have been real people, not fake ones like Joe the Plumber.

    Of course, people who are sick and broke may not be able to take the media blitz.  They would have had to be carefully vetted. and

    by chloris creator on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:53:41 PM PDT

  •  The right wing disinformation campaign (0+ / 0-)

    ---The RW (FOX/Limbaugh) disinformation, brainwashing campaign ---is like put up by expert mind manipulators.

    And they brainwash people not to listen to other media --by denigration other media not FOX and Conservative talk radio ---as liberal syncophants.

    They even make people fear to check the WH website by scaring them that WH gets their e-mail and put them in the enemy list.

    So if you are one of them ---your reality is the world created by FOX and talk radio.

    Dont let the LIARS win. Stand up for TRUTH! Stand up for Health Care Reform!

    by timber on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:02:19 PM PDT

    •  And RW is more than framing (0+ / 0-)

      It is a mind manipulation, psychological warfare, brainwashing propaganda probably tactics  used by Saddam, N Korea, etc.

      Dont let the LIARS win. Stand up for TRUTH! Stand up for Health Care Reform!

      by timber on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:04:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    The problem is that the left dosn't know how to develop PR effectively. They allowed the GOP to define the terms of the debate. They let right wing industry groups run ads for months without a response. They allowed their lies to go unchallenged.

  •  I don't know if you're reading these comments.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larry Bailey, churchylafemme

    but if you are, I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a personal hero of mine.  

    There are few individuals in this modern world who truly understand the influence archetypal impressions have on us - like Joseph Campbell did - but I've read your work over the years, and truly appreciate your ability to see beneath the dichotomous surface, that place where opposites rule.  

    Today, I watched the interview of the Scottish judge whose decision released Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi to Libya, and immediately understood what separates citizens of the U.S. from Europeans. Compassion. We are too willing to become as calloused as our aggressors. Much of that, I think, is because as Americans we are conditioned to think of ourselves as special, as spiritually birthrighted to all the blessings of the modern world.

    Our leaders reinforce this myth, which perpetuates in in the social mind.  

    What dominates the U.S. is hubris.  

    What is lacking is compassion.  

    As such, we are perpetually in danger of becoming a nihilistic country, entirely because we see ourselves as other, as US vs. THEM, and anything that threatens that distinction will become poison to established and entrenched ideas, powers.

    In that place, there is no room for common decency, no room for compassion, no room for a dying man who, after having served his sentence, might return to his family, to dye next to his kin. No room to forgive.    

    I for one am appreciative that we have a White House that can speak to us and with us, instead of at us.  In that, our society has move light years from where we were only a few years ago.

    Shaping society, I think you would agree, takes time.  We are like glaciers - in that we are formed by the valleys that house us, but move only incrementally over decades and centuries.  

    Anyway, that was the long version of saying thanks for this diary.  

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    by Jahiz on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:46:40 PM PDT

  •  Jesus God you make too much sense. (0+ / 0-)

    This will never work. snark

    What do conservatives conserve?--Carl Sagan

    by YellerDog on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:49:50 PM PDT

  •  Let's not make this about complex plans and... (0+ / 0-)

    ...strategies.  Let's make this about what they should and shouldn't fear. We can tell them,

    You know, you shouldn't fear the government deciding that it's your time to die.  Nothing in the bill says the government can do that.  It's science fiction.  Like Soylent Green.  Only you don't live in fear every day that you might find out your sausage biscuit and hash brown is people.  Why?  Because you know the line between truth and fiction.

    Now that we've told you what Obama's real policy is, you should know where the line lies there, too.  You shouldn't fear supporting it, fear its passage, as if one day you would find yourself before one of those panels.  That will never happen, just as you won't be eating your neighbor Fred with your waffles any time soon. (I hope!)

    You should know that you won't be paying for abortions, won't see your benefits slashed or your bank account burgled.  They're telling you these things because scary stories absorb your attention, and keep you from noticing the hand that's reaching around for your wallet.

    They keep you afraid of the Death Panel, with that merciless destroyer of the Elderly, Barack Obama, seated on it, while the boards of real world insurance companies deliberately reward their adjustors for dumping people out of their healthcare, denying treatments, denying claims, hell, denying anything and everything as a first step.  They pile on the red tape, hike up the costs for procedures, refuse to cover those already ill, and so and so forth.

    These people are not some fiction.  They are real.  And they are doing real damage to people's lives.  The healthcare system is making our situation worse on any number of levels, from cost, to our happiness to the stability of our lives.

    You can decide to fight a fiction, an imaginary threat which no reputable factchecking site supports, or you can confront a reality, and by doing so secure better healthcare for your children and grandchildren, if not yourself.

    Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

    by Stephen Daugherty on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:21:04 PM PDT

  •  Why do republicans listen to people like Luntz (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and score points...but democrats do not seem to be listening to the "Luntz's" on our side, like you, and continuously lose the public relations war?

    "Public option" just isn't sexy. How about Healthcare Security? Or Healthcare Rescue Plan or something that suggests a plan to save those who fall through the cracks? Health SafetyNet, something.

    You make wonderful points. I wish the White House would stop ignoring people like you and Howard Dean, who make excellent sense. holding the line against the siege

    by CatM on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:58:59 PM PDT

  •  "Insurance companies on the side of death" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, kalmoth, CMYK


    Thanks for that one.

    Thanks for the whole article. All the excellent ideas.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:06:20 PM PDT

  •  I agree, I haven't like the framing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I really don't think framing matters.  The Republicans will oppose anything.  Remember the lashes about empathy with Sotomayor?  I don't think it matters what is said, it will be torn apart, rescripted, and misinterpreted.

    I think the woman in the town hall complaining about Obama's birth certificate made a point when she said "This is my country."  I don't think it's a racist point, they told John Kerry to go back to Europe too.  I think it's a power thing, they don't like that they are  not in control.  For a few years, Gingrich rang their bell, he was in control, and the south was surging to power to direct and control the US, as had been the goal of the religious leaders for a long time.  That must have felt very powerful.  The President would speak their language.

    Now,  Obama is different and things are changing.

    I almost wonder if this doesn't go back to the Civil War, and resentments still buried, handed down from one generation to the next, to be played on by the Republicans.

    I don't think framing matters, they have decided they will fight Obama, period.

  •  Many people need to have an enemy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what that 25-30% of the country is like.  They need to have an enemy, and they look to the media to supply them with one.

    It should have been very easy to give them the health insurance companies - rich, refusing to treat people - as the enemy.  Now, we would not have managed to persuade everyone - there are intractable racists - but we would get a lot more.

    We may be rational.  They are not.  And there are psychological studies showing how having a common enemy can unite those who usually oppose each other. and

    by chloris creator on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:08:42 AM PDT

  •  I don't agree, but then maybe I do. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Usually I agree with Lakoff.  But this time I was thinking, no, health care is real for people.  They really do think about the specifics of the policy, because this is something that really affects them.

    And then I thought, well, look at why I want a public option.  It's because I hate the insurance companies, because of the very bad experiences I have had with them.  I know they aren't providing what they say they're selling.  We ought to be getting good, reliable health care, and we're not.  Even with health insurance, it's always a worry that they won't cover something that you need. And you can have your health coverage yanked out from under you at any time, even if you've been paying into the system all of your life.  In fact, it's when you really need it that you're most likely to not have it.

    So, yes, I get the argument about holding down costs, but my real reason for wanting a public option is just plain visceral.  I hope a public option will provide the reliable health care that the health insurance industry won't.

    So, there ya' go.  Maybe Lakoff is right after all.

  •  One problem is that if you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    frame the campaign around for-profit insurance being horrible inefficient (which it is), then you are forced to conclude we should have not-for-profit insurance for everyone. And Obama and Company don't wanna go there because the corporations pay the legal bribes we call campaign contributions.

  •  "Alternative to insurance" is quippy + succinct. (0+ / 0-)

    The administration's lack of a holistic view of healthcare probably reflects that true reform wasn't necessarily their goal. But it's not over yet and we still have a part to play to press for a real reform plan.

    Brilliant diary, thanks especially for these:

    The first rule of effective communication is stating the positive in your own terms, not quoting the other side’s language with a negation.

    Progressives should be stressing the patriotic nature of having our nation guaranteeing care for our people.

    Insurance company health care is a huge example of taxation without representation.

    The American Plan offers an alternative to private taxation. companies have been rationing care. Say it.

    ...the systemic nature of health. Without a sense of the whole, and an institution responsible for it, health will be line-itemed to death.

    The insurance companies have been on the side of death, and that needs to be said overtly.

    Help thy brother's boat across the stream, and Lo! Thine own has reached the shore. --Hindu proverb

    by CMYK on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:03:05 AM PDT

  •  When did the "period of time to recommend"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...narrow so much here?  This was posted Thursday 8.20 early a.m., and many of us did not see it Thursday morning. We get back on early Friday morning and the period of time to recommend is up. Please allow a longer period. This is the most important diary here this year and should stay up on the Rec List for a week.

    Learn more about second-class U.S. citizenship at

    by Larry Bailey on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:20:14 AM PDT

  •  The reason the so-called public option is dead: (0+ / 0-)

    Obama never intended to get one pass that has any teeth to it.  His intention has always been to pass nothing more than the illusion of reform while ensuring the preservation of the status quo (a look at his record on health care reform in the Illinois state senate revealed as much during the campaign, but let it not be said that his supporters for the most part actually bothered to take a hard look at it).  The Huffington Post's revelation of Obama's back-room deal with the health care establishment stands as proof that the Obama White House was never an honest, serious proponent of genuine health care reform.

    Properly framing an argument is all well and good, Professor Lakoff, but we must look at Obama in context.  He was never a reformer.  He has always been an establishment flunky.  And his rhetoric on the campaign trail was designed solely to obtain power, and it's obvious there was never any plan for doing anything to keep it.  I'm fairly confident that 2010 will be Obama's 1994 Clinton political route.

    I Was Just Following Orders!
    Ich Folgte Gerade Ordnungen!

    by Ich Folgte Gerade Ordnungen on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:56:58 AM PDT

  •  This is a BRILLIANT diary. (0+ / 0-)

    I wish I'd seen it in time to rec it. It's very rare to read a diary on this site and be completely caught off-guard by how incisive it is.

    Well done. I only hope the PR amateurs in the White House are reading along.

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