No one triggers my ire more quickly and forcefully than Frank Luntz. He is a deceiving, manipulating political dastard. His mission for The Right is to twist language in order to purposely distort the positions of their opponents and obfuscate the true agenda of Conservatives. And in this opinion piece for The Washington Post he is doing it again. Sadly, he does it brilliantly.
In the piece he states that five myths about Conservative voters are incorrect. In fact, they are not myths, but, rather, generally true characterizations. Luntz' goal is to make us believe the opposite of what is true. To do that, as he often does, he uses his own polling in which the forms of his questions elicit the pre-determined responses he wants to generate.
He then takes those results and comes up with language to twist the true tenor of the national debate. He wrote memos for Republicans on how they could defeat health care reform and financial & insurance industry reform by manipulating the language of the debate.
I have written about this before:
Luntz is proud of the distortions he has formulated, and brags about them on his company's website.
If you need to create the language to build support for legislation, we’ll find the right words. If you need to kill a bad bill, we’ll show you how.
Either take control of the debate, or the debate will take control of you. It really is that simple. Silence is no longer an option. The news cycle never ends. Either you determine the message or someone else will.
Our focus is on language. We already know the words that work – or we’ll find them for you…fast.
Consider our record:
We changed the “estate tax” to the “death tax” and that changed the course of legislative history.
We changed “global warming” to “climate change,” and while that was highly confidential, even opponents acknowledged how those two words significantly impacted the public debate.
We changed “drilling for oil” to “exploring for energy,” and that helped energy companies secure the rights to develop more energy resources right here in America.
We changed “school choice” to “parental choice” and “vouchers” to “opportunity scholarships,” and that has helped the education reform efforts in more than a dozen states.”
Time after time we have succeeded in changing the course of the debate, and the impact can be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Remember, what matters is not what you say. It’s what people hear.
For this upcoming election campaign you can expect to hear Luntz' new distortions parroted by The Right. Here are a few you will hear, all crafted to soften or cloud hard positions, making those extreme, cynical positions sound downright compassionate and patriotic, and meant to sway the common citizen to see the government as his/her enemy:
The purported myth: Conservatives care most about the size of government.
The Luntz distortion: "Big government makes small citizens."
The truth: Rich Conservatives want to shrink and starve government virtually out of existence, so they can keep all their money. They only want their limited tax money spent on military defense, and not on any social programs to benefit the less fortunate.
The purported myth: Conservatives want to deport all illegal immigrants
The Luntz distortion: "America should have tall fences and wide gates."
The truth: White Conservatives feel threatened by the increasing number, influence and power of minorities and want to keep foreigners, especially Hispanics, out.
The purported myth: Conservatives worship Wall Street.
The Luntz distortion: "All Americans should have economic freedom."
The truth: Rich Conservatives don't want any regulation of how and where they invest their extra money, and want to operate unfettered by government oversight or taxation. The so-called "economic freedom" they crave is really freedom from ethical restraints. Of course, the poorer among us have little or no economic freedom, as they have little or no money.
The purported myth: Conservatives want to slash Social Security and Medicare
The Luntz distortion: "Increasing patient choice will save Medicare."
The truth: Rich Conservatives have the independent means to provide for their own health, safety and security and don't want any of their money spent to provide the same for those less privileged.
The purported myth: Conservatives don't care about inequality.
The Luntz distortion: "Anyone can become rich in America."
The truth: Rich Conservatives believe that their wealth came from their hard work and not from the privilege of better opportunity and education. So, they are vehemently opposed to giving poorer folks any of their money or providing them access to equal job opportunity, health care and education. They are saying, "It's our money, we own it, we're keeping it, and you are on your own."
Plainly stated, Frank Luntz is a liar. The media continue to put him forward as a "pollster", illuminating the thoughts and concerns of American citizens. But, in fact, he is, and always has been a propagandist. His service is not to the truth, but to voter manipulation. He states as much on his website, LuntzGlobal, as quoted below.
Luntz Global is a powerhouse in the profession of message creation and image management.
We have counseled Presidents and Prime Ministers, Fortune 100 CEOs and Hollywood creative teams in harnessing the power of language and visuals to change hearts, change minds and change behaviors. We have become a hyper-attentive nation that is quick to judge. The words and visuals you use are more important than ever in determining whether you win or lose at the ballot box, the checkout line, and the court of public opinion. We know the words that work. Do you?
Our confidence comes from decades of research, polling, and consulting to the opinion elite worldwide, with proven results that withstand the test of time.
Remember: "It's not what you say. It's what people hear."