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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

The GOP's message discipline

By Greg Sargent

Everyone is linking to this Steven Pearlstein column skewering the GOP's ubiquitous talking point that everything Obama and Democrats have done is a "job killer." Folks are pushing back on the "job killer" talking point by pointing to a new Harvard study that shows that the GOP's chief initiative right now, repealing health reform, could cost up to 400,000 jobs.

But all that aside, I think the most important paragraph in Pearlstein's piece is this one, which reminds us once again just how good Republicans are at messaging:

Type "job killing" into Google and you'll get more than 1.2 million hits. On the Factiva news database, it comes up 11,115 times during 2009 and 2010, compared with 1,373 times during the previous two years. A Republican talking point, a Fox News broadcast or a Chamber of Commerce press release is now incomplete without it.

What's more, this is not the first time the GOP has boasted such messaging success in the past two years. Recall that the phrase "government takeover" to describe health reform also gained amazingly successful traction in the media:

The phrase proliferated in the media even after Democrats dropped the public option. In 2010 alone, "government takeover" was mentioned 28 times in the Washington Post, 77 times in Politico and 79 times on CNN. A review of TV transcripts showed "government takeover" was primarily used as a catchy sound bite, not for discussions of policy details.

In most transcripts we examined, Republican leaders used the phrase without being challenged by interviewers. For example, during Boehner's Jan. 31 appearance on Meet the Press, Boehner said it five times. But not once was he challenged about it.

Yes, yes, I know, media FAIL. But let me ask you a question. We now know that Dems have settled on a core set of messages to push back on repeal, mostly centered on the idea that it will take away crucial safeguards and run up the deficit. And that's all very well and good.

But is there a single phrase you can point to that Dems have uttered along these lines in recent days that's anywhere near as memorable as "job killer" or "government takeover?"

I mean, we haven't heard anything pithy summarizing the Dems' message that repealing reform will put countless children at grave risk, and we haven't heard anything along the lines of "deficit busting" or "deficit destroying" or anything like that. Okay, those aren't too good. Anyone else have any better ideas?

Dems simply have to get better at this game.

By Greg Sargent  | January 7, 2011; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House GOPers, Political media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama didn't govern from the "left," part 973
Next: Matt Bai: No ideological shift

Comments

"I mean, we haven't heard anything pithy summarizing the Dems' message that repealing reform will put countless children at grave risk."

Child killers?

Posted by: sbj3 | January 7, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The Republican agenda of "slash and burn."

House members have no interest in fixing healthcare, or government, or the economy. It's reckless "slash and burn" politics.

Posted by: luke7474 | January 7, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Of Tax Cuts, And Celtic Tigers

For several years, Republicans used Ireland as an example of an economy that was booming because of having such low tax rates.

Today: The Celtic Tiger has suffered a massive stroke, is on life support with an IMF feeding tube shoved down it's throat, and almost all of it's best and brightest forced to go abroad, in search of employment.

Some one ask some Republicans why they are not now warning America to not emulate Ireland, by cutting taxes too much, because it will lead to the country having to be bailed out, and run by the IMF.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I think that a large part of problem is which Dems offer the soundbites. For every soundbite we get from a smart-talking liberal like Weiner or Frank, there are ten from some nincompoop like Harold Ford or Lieberman. These people have their own agendas and interests, and they are often diametrically opposed to what is good for the whole of the Democratic Party. And look at the Sunday shows, how often do we get a good liberal guest as opposed to Kent Conrad (or Harold Ford again), or Evan Bayh?

Posted by: flounder2 | January 7, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Nonsense, all Republican success is the fault of the people who got Obama elected. Otherwise The Clintons would have moved back into he White House and they know how to message.

Or, the left pointed out how bad the Obama administration and the Democratic leaders in general were handling the health care debacle and if they hadn't done that, everyone would have thought well of it. We were shooting spitballs at the President instead of mobilizing in the streets on behalf of his betrayal, I mean capitulation, I mean working from the center against the radicals on the margins.

If the people who got him elected had only supported the rightward line of march, Republicans never would have been successful in November. Republicans saying they wanted Obama to fail and that their purpose was to make that happen, they were just kidding, or the left made them that way, either way.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, as much as I disagree with it, Dems should swing for the fences with "health care is a right." it's easy and draws a line in the sand. i'm comfortable responding that no -- health care is not a right, but i'm not so sure an elected official would be.

If we're doing to have a fight over the individual mandate, Dems might as well take up the mantle of FDR's 4 freedoms and go for it. Wrap it up in FDR's "freedom from want"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I'll take "Don't Get Sick, Or Die Quickly" for 200, Alex. H/T to Alan Grayson

Posted by: politicslovr | January 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I think I heard a Democrat yesterday (might have been Jared Polis in the Rules Committee)call the AHCA repeal " a $230 billion spending bill." I thought that had a nice ring -- Republicans hate to be portrayed as spending money on anything.

Posted by: bigfish2 | January 7, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I think I heard a Democrat yesterday (might have been Jared Polis in the Rules Committee)call the AHCA repeal " a $230 billion spending bill." I thought that had a nice ring -- Republicans hate to be portrayed as spending money on anything.

Posted by: bigfish2 | January 7, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double posting.

Posted by: bigfish2 | January 7, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I also like "health care is a right".

It's a gut level belief.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Problem is, everyone is disgusted by the idea of the federal government forcing people to buy a health care "product" from a rapacious industry. The health care industry is out of control and now everyone has to buy what they decide to sell you. That profit margin language in the ACA is a like monument, a war memorial to the great victory of the industry. Car makers, eat your heart out.

I wish I worked in an industry that has a profit margin written in law. Oh wait I, ah, forget it.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The Dems can't sell themselves because they have no product. They stand for nothing except not being Republicans. The Dems are GOP-lite and that isn't just very catchy.

"A Republican talking point, a Fox News broadcast or a Chamber of Commerce press release is now incomplete without it.

The Chamber of Commerce is now our friend. And Obama is NOT triangulating. I repeat: NOT triangulating.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

As a response to being called the Democrat Party, Democrats should refer to the other party as the 'Republicants'.

In response to 'Job Killing Healthcare Takeover' I suggest:

Budget Killing Healthcare Makeover

Oh, do our Dems need a messaging war room and instant response.

Posted by: Rito | January 7, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"do our Dems need a messaging war room and instant response"

First, they need a message.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Dems simply have to get better at this game."

Better?

They're not even playing the same game. Hell, often they aren't playing any game at all. They have the WH bully pulpit and still can't get in the game.

Message branding FAIL is just the beginning. There's coordination FAIL. Discipline FAIL. Circular firing squad FAIL.

Also. Too. Preemptive capitulation. Dems are hall of famers at that message killing game...

Posted by: SteveinSacto | January 7, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Why would they repeal the "life saving" Healthcare Bill?

It's factually accurate, why not?

Posted by: calchala | January 7, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

We may not be good at this because many of us find this type of messaging to be offensive and insulting. I think we prefer that there be a little more substance and honesty in our discourse. Having said that, perhaps referring to the Republican majority as a "Government Death Squad" wouldn't be stretching the truth very far.

Posted by: mikemfr | January 7, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Dems is that they are less interested in belonging to a club and more interested in doing what is best for the country. Just look at the Conservatives on here. I'm assuming that they aren't collaborating or anything, but yet they all say the exact same Conservative Things. Exactly 100% of them believe that x-y=-y for all values of x.

Non-Conservatives, on the other hand, aren't reading from a script and will have disagreements. We aren't obsessed with getting Sarah Palin to wink at us. So there will be some unbalance in messaging.

Look at the PPACA. Every single Republican thinks that the law will bankrupt the economy and lead to death panels. Not ONE exception.

Non-Republicans are all over the place. Some say that it isn't doing enough. Some say that we need single payer or a public option or higher subsidies or lower subsidies and so forth.

So obviously you're going to have a problem in messaging when you have one side that is composed of people who, more than anything in the world, want to belong in a club and you have another side who just want what's best for their country and its people.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 7, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's a new freshman GOP congressman (doofus) on why he should get HIS taxpayer-funded healthcare package NOW, instead of having to wait till Feb. 1:


"What am I, not supposed to have health care?" he said. "It's practicality. I'm not going to become a burden for the state because I don't have health care, and God forbid I get into an accident and I can't afford the operation. That can happen to anyone."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_01/027434.php

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 7, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe Democrats can cede the tactic of instant, cohesive and repetitive messaging and expect to obtain what's best for the country and its people.

If the Democrats are not in it to win it, we will see our Senate majority slip away in 2012.

There is no need to be offensive or insulting, but there is a requirement for better and co-ordinated talking points.

Posted by: Rito | January 7, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, yes, I know, media FAIL."

Good....I'm glad you recognize this, but it's about time you started taking members of the media who are failing to task for it.

"Dems simply have to get better at this game."

See, that's the entire f*&king problem. The media sees this as a GAME. It's not. The press' job is to inform the public honestly and fairly, so that the public is educated on what is happening within our government. It's not a game, and treating politics like some sort of hackneyed, gossip-laden, sports reporting gutter trash is probably the single largest reason our country is in as big a mess as it is - both in policy and in political polarization.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 7, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Republicans want to Privatize all Granny Killing Death Panels.

That alone is worth adding another 230 Billions to the National Debt.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

How about "Medi-care Buy-in by 2012" or "Save Social Security from Wall Street" or "Put the Middle Class First" or "Give a 99'er a Job" or "Save us from the Plutocrats"........................

Posted by: lmsinca | January 7, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

NoVaHockey writes
"Well, as much as I disagree with it, Dems should swing for the fences with "health care is a right.""

Figures a conservative would come up with the best soundbite for the Dems. Which perhaps underscores Sargent's and Shrink's and - hell, I've made it many times too - point that the Dems really really suck at messaging.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The 24 hour news cycle HAS transformed politics into a game, with the need to declare who won the day.

Of course any serious politico understands how important this 'game' is. However, refusing to play the 'game' as it is now construed turns our best players and our best policies into losers.

Posted by: Rito | January 7, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent wrote:
"Dems simply have to get better at this game."

Gotta agree with you, Greg, on the practical level. The Dems are being smoked by the snappy and too often emotionally-laden and fact-devoid slogans of the GOP. "Death panels" is probably the recent poster-child for deliberately malicious, thoroughly cynical flat-out lies in politics (reminds me of Claude Pepper being defeated because his opponent denounced him at the last moment as a "heterosexual" and his wife as a "thespian").

But the very fact that this is a "game" (your word choice is apt) is what we should really regret. Sound bite politics sucks--it enables demagoguery. Heck, it IS (at least one facet of) demagoguery. With all of the current choruses of praise for our Founding Fathers being sung, we often forget that they thought that the Republic would only survive if we have an educated citizenry. Beware the over-simplifiers and narrow ideologues of ANY stripe.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | January 7, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

12bb, again writes
"I also like "health care is a right".

It's a gut level belief."


Dems do a poor job of expressing their gut level beliefs. They know why they do what they do, but they don't tell people.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Egomaniacs; start your Presidential Campaign Engines.

From Politicalwire.com

"Giuliani Hits Christie Over Snow
On Morning Joe, Rudy Giuliani took a shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for being at Disney World during the post-Christmas blizzard.

Said Giuliani: "Chris should've come back. I mean, if he asked me my advice, I would've said 'They elected you governor, they've got an emergency, they expect you to be there.' You know, you've got to be there if you're a governor, a mayor, or even a president, if it's important enough."

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

How about "Medi-care Buy-in by 2012" or "Save Social Security from Wall Street" or "Put the Middle Class First" or "Give a 99'er a Job" or "Save us from the Plutocrats"........................

Posted by: lmsinca | January 7, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Look! A hippy! Get her!

bsimon:

The Dems can't use "health care is a right" because they are too compromised internally (i.e., too many Dems are really Republicans pretending to be Democrats for some perceived advantage). Just like the Dems can't use Hippy Imsinca's slogans. The Dems suck at messaging because they don't have a message. The GOP stands for lower taxes and less regulation. The Democratic Party stands for ... not being the GOP. The sitting Democratic president denigrates FDR and praises Reagan. You try to sell that.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes indeed. This House session is off to a great start, under the leadership of:

The Weeping Gavelier.

From Politicalwire.com

"

Reading of Constitution Bungled
The Hill notes the U.S. Constitution "has still never been read in its entirety and in order on the House floor. During Thursday morning's 'historic reading,' one member apparently skipped Article 4 Section 4 and part of Article 5 Section 1 when he or she inadvertently turned two pages at once."

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who was in charge of the reading, "returned to the House floor at 2:23 p.m., more than two hours after the error occurred, read the missing sections, and placed them officially in the congressional record."

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne,

It seems that you've decided to become the Man on No One's Side, but it gets old. Granted you are a true believer, but do you even sense there is something to be said for practicality? For half a loaf better than none? That people who isolate themselves from everyone, just end up isolated?

The Democrats don't have to be perfect for me to support them. Seems like that's asking for something that never has happened and never will.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg,

In the catagory of:

Be careful what you wish for:

From TPM

"To attract Republican support for filibuster reform, Democrats led by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeff Merkley have proposed a new rule that would guarantee the minority party the chance to offer three amendments to any legislation.

It may have worked too well. A senior Senate Republican leadership aide says GOP members would be "giddy" if they were given that right.

Here's why. Those amendments would be filibuster-proof -- among the only pieces of legislation in all the Senate to enjoy that privilege -- and would therefore be a recipe for poison pill amendments on both sides.

For Republicans, now in the minority, that would mean a chance to get up or down votes on repealing health care and other conservative priorities."

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"Dems do a poor job of expressing their gut level beliefs. They know why they do what they do, but they don't tell people."

I'm a big proponent of keeping it simple. I think it's the argument that the D's want to make (HC is right), but are afraid to do so. Better to muddle along than take bold stance and possibly lose. Citing a CBO estimate isn't exactly inspiring.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Greg is this necessarily a bad thing? Think about it everyone heard the GOP for months say 100 billion dollars in cuts. And now they say ok no 100 million dollars and they are being called out for it and we should keep hammering away at them for that. There are short term benefits and long term costs of strict message discipline. Yes it got them elected in the short term, but the long term everyone can and should point out their shortcomings. And we can and should steal their message. If the GOP cant come up with 100 billion. Dems should put 100 billion out there right now and say since they cant heres ours. If job killing health care repeal is their message, dems should say ok life saving health care reform.

Posted by: osmondbrinson | January 7, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Health is Affordable, just not this time, next time for sure.

Health Care, Priceless.

Things Could be Worse.

Health is Free, Medical Care is a Different...no that won't work...

Democrats, Love us or We Blame You

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Demanding perfection? 12BB, I respect your opinion but that is simply defying reality. Obama and the Dems are colossal failures. Ask the country. That isn't my fault. And I am not a partisan Democrat who will justify, rationalize and excuse anything Obama does, regardless of what it is. The Dems have gone too far for me. Simple as that.

Greens in 2012! (They're good for you!)

P.S. Feel free to troll block me: I won't be offended.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I called in the help of a famous Jewish wordsmith, and he came up with this;

Heal The Sick.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

O&O.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

They should just deem the new House repeal bill the job killing bill and be done with it.

Oh, and tell the Republicans thanks for the talking point.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Feel free to troll block me: I won't be offended.
--------------------------------
I'm not going to block you. Your pov has value and I read all your posts. We're just different, that's all. I'm a pragmatist above all else. I'm just trying to nudge you a little in my direction.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party and WoeBegone agree that a Republican should defeat Obama in 2012.

Stay tuned for WoeBegone to tell us once again about how is a Hippy, and feeling bashed, even though he is the only one that has brought up the word Hippy.

I sure hope he was gracious enough to notify The Judean People's Front, that he abandoning them for The Greens.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

@post_reader_in_wv "Gotta agree with you, Greg, on the practical level. The Dems are being smoked by the snappy and too often emotionally-laden and fact-devoid slogans of the GOP. "Death panels" is probably the recent poster-child for deliberately malicious, thoroughly cynical flat-out lies in politics (reminds me of Claude Pepper being defeated because his opponent denounced him at the last moment as a "heterosexual" and his wife as a "thespian")"

Claude Pepper died in office in 1989. He was not defeated because of the reasons you cite above.

The incident cited is loosely based on a fictitious speech that George Smathers (a Democrat) supposedly gave in 1950 at the behest of Harry Truman due to Claude Pepper's opposition to having Harry Truman as the 1948 Democratic nominee.

" Part of American political lore is the Smathers "redneck speech," which Smathers reportedly delivered to a poorly educated audience. The "speech" was never given; it was a hoax dreamed up by one reporter. Smathers did not say, as was reported in Time Magazine during the campaign:

Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, he has a brother who is a known homo sapiens,[7] and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.[8]

The Smathers campaign denied his having made the speech, as did the reporters who covered his campaign, but the hoax followed Smathers to his death"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Pepper

The first step for Democrats to improve their messaging skills is to stop hallucinating that the Republicans have some sort of orbital mind control messaging lasers that allow them to win through "thoroughly cynical flat-out lies in politics".

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Well it is true Meeks didn't inherit the next step up, let alone the earth, a Medicare Miner bought the job of Governing the Florida catastrophe.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth" in Republican speak, translates to "Let Them Eat Dirt".

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

So does "Heel the Sick"

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

.
.
.
. Health Killing repeal effort.
.
.
.
. Budget Busting healthcare repeal.
.
.
.
. Millionaire Tax Cuts.
.
.
.

Posted by: avelvetcrush | January 7, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth"

With proper estate planning, the meek won't inherit a thing.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

What Greg clearly misses is the basic wisdom of the American people. the phrases he mentioned resonated with the American people because they were aligned with other objective evidence around them.

with unemployment hovering near double digits the phrase "job killing" takes on real meaning. Especially for folks whose jobs have been killed. If Obama at two years in had Bush's economic numbers I sincerely doubt that the phrase "job killing" would work at all.

Next Mr Sargent takes on "government take over of healthcare" again, this phrase describes closely what most Americans saw with their own eyes. It is simple fact that the government is vastly more involved in the healthcare system NOW than it was before Mr Obama took his leftward lurch.

So the message here is simple: instead of complaining that the Democrats don't play the game well, why not try showing some respect for the basic insight of the citizenry. If the message comports with the facts around them, they will understand it. If it is at all at variance with what they see and understand it will be rejected. It is just that simple.

It seems to me that Mr Sargent and his liberal cohorts here have assumed that the Republicans some how lied to the American people and therefore if the Democrats hope to prevail they'd best get good a lying too.

Just exactly how does that result in a better society or a better government?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 7, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I kind of like the "Healthcare is a Right"
slogan. If it's not, then let the GOP try to explain why it isn't. How does the Right try to justify healthcare as being a marketplace commodity for only those that can afford it? Have a GOP member of Congress explain why they get a great healthcare plan and John Doe in their district doesn't. Is one person's health worth more than another's? The GOP has their own Death Panel operating in Arizona right now.
Separate the sane part of the electorate from the minority of the knuckle dragging Darwinists among us.Especially, if it's tied in with how having a single payer system won't require employers to deal with the beaucratic bandits in the health insurance industry. This issue will never be solved until every health insurance company goes under. They don't provide value. They're impediments to having a public where everyone is covered. They essentially kill people.

Posted by: filmnoia | January 7, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Mr Sargent and his liberal cohorts here have assumed that the Republicans some how lied to the American people
---------------------------------------------
Bwahahaha!!!!!!!!!

*Somehow* lied????? Another great understatement.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth"

With proper estate planning, the meek won't inherit a thing.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 4:49 PM

.............................

Paupers graves can still be considered "Inheriting The Earth". Death is the great equalizer.



" Fear no more the heat o' the sun;
Nor the furious winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers come to dust.

Fear no more the frown of the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dread thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!"

William Shakespeare

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Sure skip, you and Rep King can sincerely appreciate republican mendacity for its real meaning as supported by objective evidence and how it resonates with the American people.

Keep up the good work

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 7, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

It still seems like calling the Republicans "The Party of No" is the appropriate catch-phrase that Democrats should be repeating at every chance. The Republicans have no serious ideas for reforming the health care system, and they're only interested in saying "no" to whatever the President and his party propose.

Posted by: dko63 | January 7, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I think all this proves is that the GOP is good at coming up with words that are easily searched in Google.

I don't buy the idea that the Dems are getting stomped because the Republicans have cute little phrases.

I think the Dems are getting stomped because the Economy is really bad.

Oh, and the Dems still control the Senate and the Presidency, so ... how good are these phrases really doing for the Republicans really.

This is Democracy, not a soap commercial. Give the American people more credit.

Posted by: blueoysterjoe | January 7, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers come to dust."

How true. Man did I struggle with Shakespeare in high school. Just never clicked. I'll have to try again.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Here's a phrase: "Deadbeat insurance companies"

Posted by: Tom_from_AnnArbor | January 7, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's a phrase: "Deadbeat insurance companies"

Posted by: Tom_from_AnnArbor | January 7, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

We ought to note in this discussion that a certain advantage is gained in "messaging" if the message-bearers are not constrained by any loyalty to truth or accuracy. And modern conservatives are clearly not so constrained.

The "job killing" prefix that Boehner as the most obvious example tacks onto all mentions of healthcare is a clear falsehood. It is merely a phrase which polls well in frightening people at this point in time.

And there is clearly no reason to imagine that modern conservatives will change their behavior and suddenly turn into honest speakers - because the righteousness of their goals and their hearts transcends the quaint values of honesty and transparency.

Which, finally, means that unless Dems engage in this game at the same levels as conservatives then they will allow the country to slide, for some indeterminate period of time, into something truly ugly.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 7, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Quick addendum to this discussion... recall that in the run-up to the war and in its initial stages, the Pentagon recruited a number of ex generals to function as pro-war, pro-military propagandists. The term the Pentagon used to describe this propaganda function was "message multipliers".

Modern conservatives simply could not have achieved what they've managed without the message multiplier function performed most particularly by talk radio and FOX (and as Fred Barnes recently argued, they have designs to get more conservative message multipliers into all media outlets (see this paper for a crystal clear example of the process).

Posted by: bernielatham | January 7, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

and I wish to thank the handful of respondents for proving my point.

Restated: the phrases Mr Sargent mentioned "worked" because they aligned with the objective evidence readily available to the American public.

Instead of looking for some nefarious motive, or engaging is childish name calling, why not invest a little thought into what I'm offering here? With unemployement high, and for no apparent reason, the phrase takes on new meaning that it would not in days of relative prosperity.

And the simple fact is that obamacare IS a government take over of healthcare. The liberals will engage in pretzel logic to convince themselves that this ain't so, but the American people see through that quite easily. And they did.

But I honestly hope that the left and the Democrats continue to dwell in denial. The longer they spend blaming others for the shellacking they took the less time they will have to make rational plans to do better in 2012.

So party on wayne, party on garth. Here's to bitterness which will lead to still more election day defeats for the left.

Hey, I have a message that the left can use. It is one they use everyday anyway: "America's liberals, expressing contempt for everyone."

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 7, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I have a message that the left can use. It is one they use everyday anyway: "America's liberals, expressing contempt for everyone."
----------------------------------
Contempt, thy name is skipsailing.

Since we're being literary today.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | January 7, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

As with all loyal rightwingers, skip figures if he just keeps repeating his cynical mendacity, it might convince someone.

Keep up the good work skip.

That really is the point of the whole message thing. The GOP never feels a need to explain anything with facts while Democrats when questioned always resort to lengthy, factual, wonky analysis demonstrating precisely the policy position and putting everyone to sleep.

Note to Dems ... EFF the explanation, just repeat the talking point.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 7, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Skippy sure showered Democrats with nothing but respect, after their landslide victories in 2008.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

For those interested, a terrific piece by Ezra (OT)...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/01/what_libertarians_should_and_s.html

Posted by: bernielatham | January 7, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm back.

"I'm just trying to nudge you a little in my direction."

I was already in your direction. Now I'm moving the other way. And it is irreversible this time. I have given up on the two-party system as currently comprised. Both parties are nothing but Plutocrats. The Democrats are just marginally better than the Republicans and Obama is now moving them in the exactly wrong direction. Maybe that's good enough for you but it isn't for me.

Greens in 2012! (They're good for you!)

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"And the simple fact is that obamacare IS a government take over of healthcare."

As Bill Maher would say "first rule" ----

Anyone who uses the right wing talking point mantra "obamacare" can't be part of any serious discussion. By using that term you've poisoned the well and negate anything else that comes after it.

Posted by: filmnoia | January 7, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing28 wrote:
"And the simple fact is that obamacare IS a government take over of healthcare."

No, it isn't. Just because you repeat it a million times does not make it the truth. And just because the GOP is now in the majority in the House of Representatives, it does not make it true either.

Posted by: dko63 | January 7, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

One thing that drives me nuts from both sides is messaging. I think both sides can be disciplined with their messaging, but if I never have to hear how healthcare was "rammed down the American people's throats" again, it will be too soon. The "job killing" phrase (where are the folks who accused Obama of hypnotizing people with NLP now, BTW) is already tired. Make the argument, don't feel you have to constantly preface. If you do feel it's necessary, express it thusly: "This piece of legislation kills jobs", instead of making it an adjective phrase. "This job killing Health Care bill!"

Nuts to all that.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Job killer --

President Obama and the Democratic Congress have created “more jobs in 2010 than President Bush did over eight years.”

From February 2001, Bush’s first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, the economy added just 1 million jobs. By contrast, in 2010 alone, the economy added at least 1.1 million jobs.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/07/obama-more-jobs-bush/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 7, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama created more jobs in one year than Bush created in eight.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/07/obama-more-jobs-bush/

Posted by: bernielatham | January 7, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Obamacare can be characterized as government overreach, over-regulation, poorly conceived, even unconstitutional, but it's not really a government take over of healthcare (unlike Clinton Care, which was almost Soviet in its wholesale, centrlalized takeover of American healthcare). Indeed, it is more entangled with insurance (to the benefit of large insurers) than it is with healthcare. Plus, some stupid regulation that might have unintended consequences, but aren't really a government takeover of healthcare.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I do find it rather ironic that the same party that claims providing people with health care, kills jobs, fought tooth and nail to make sure that Corporations continue to receive tax breaks for sending jobs overseas.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

@ jnc4p:

I stand corrected about Claude Pepper. Even at my age, it's still possible to learn something every day. While I'll admit I think the never-delivered Smathers "redneck" speech hoax illustrates (if only apocryphally) the point Sargent was making, I concede your point of historical fact.

To clarify, I do not assert that Democrats lose SOLELY on the basis of what I still will call "thoroughly cynical flat-out lies in politics" told by Republicans--Dems deserve plenty of blame for their campaigning ineptitude. I also do not assert that Republicans are the only ones who tell such lies or that the Repubs have any "orbital mind control messaging lasers" (clever!--I like the image).

But I won't shrink from asserting that sound bite politics is demagoguery and that the "death panel" sound bite is about as good an example of malicious demagoguery as you'll find in recent politics. So did you read my second paragraph?

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | January 8, 2011 12:13 AM | Report abuse

if I never have to hear how healthcare was "rammed down the American people's throats" again, it will be too soon.

==

Well they have to express their homoerotic fantasies somehow.

Hey, Republicans, this should help:

http://_your city here_.craigslist.com/m4m

Posted by: caothien9 | January 8, 2011 12:53 AM | Report abuse

One of simple secret about auto insurance is your location can affect premium pretty easily. If you have two address try both of them and see if your premium goes up and down. If you need tips on auto insurance search "Clearance Auto Insurance" it is the best place

Posted by: carolcampo8 | January 8, 2011 3:05 AM | Report abuse

The first new rule says you HAVE to have insurance. Both my husband and I have pre-existing conditions, and although the new bill says we can't be denied coverage because of it. So far, the cheapest health insurance we've been able to find is called "Wise Health Insurance" search for it online if you are pre-existing conditions.

Posted by: jeremytaylore | January 8, 2011 4:49 AM | Report abuse

Democrats don't have a Frank Luntz because they consider what he does dishonest, simple-minded, and a perversion of our democratic process.

Posted by: rhallnj | January 8, 2011 6:30 AM | Report abuse

first the democratic party needs to stop defying they will of the voters and giving the nomination to people like Obama who are completely unprepared to be president. Had they NOT fudged the rules to take the nomination away from the people's choice (and ignored ballot box stuffing and voting in caucuses from out of state voters from Chicago) they wouldn't be struggling so hard to find a phrase that would fool people about the mess the country was in.

Posted by: teresainpa | January 8, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

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