Thursday, August 10, 2006

How to Get Your Talking Point Swallowed

I don't know why this works, but it works. Josh Marshall notes the absurdity of the Republican talking point about how Ned Lamont is bad for the Democratic party because he makes us look weak on security.

But note the way they phrase it:

β€œIt’s an unfortunate development, I think, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, to see a man like Lieberman pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security strategy,’’ Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview with news service reporters.

The trick is to assume the talking point is true, and then comment on it. Don't say "Lieberman was pushed aside because he's willing to be aggressive against terrorism." That's obviously false.

Instead say "It's unfortunate that Lieberman was pushed aside because he was aggressive against terrorism." For some reason, burying your talking point this way makes it much easier for journalists to swallow and print. Apparently this creates a little glitch in the journalist's mental process that makes them think, "Oh--the debate isn't about whether Democrats are aggressive against terror; it's about whether their non-aggressiveness is unfortunate or not."

It's very similar to the way telemarketers try to keep you on the phone by framing their questions in a way that makes it difficult not to respond. So how do we teach the journalists to just hang up?