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Frame This

Jul
18
2005

Everybody else on the Leftie side of the house has chimed in on The New York Times magazine piece on “framing” and George Lakoff and, well, I’m sorry but I can’t leave this alone.
A bunch of Democrats are quoted in this capable story by Matt Bai as thanking “framing” – which seems to be a new, fancy way to describe the ability to put issues in language that some how is super resonating with voters – for their recent victories. What victories? Say you, sensible reader.
Well, the defeat of the Republican move to remove the filibuster from the Senate and the stuttering defeat – it’s done, no one’s said anything yet – of President Bush’s plans to reform Social Security.
The Democrats say they have these victories because they are “framing” Republicans as office-holders who abuse their power.
Yeah. Right. I think it’s more like Republicans really are abusing their power (Terri Schiavo, anyone?) and – for once – Democrats are taking note of that fact, loudly and publicly. I mean, look, the reason the press went along with the White House scenario about Iraq – and the lies that accompanied it – is because there was no real, substantive criticism of that war coming from the Democrats in the U.S. Congress. Howard Dean was the anti-war candidate, not John Kerry.


And in claiming their current victories, I say the Democrats are overlooking a few things. One, Sen. Bill Frist is a bad and untalented Majority Leader who has lost control of the Senate. He is having trouble keeping moderate Republicans in line which is not a huge change for that body. The filibuster idea was defeated by Sen. John McCain, a man who understands that no true conservative will ever support his candidacy for president but a whole lot of conservative Democrats may. He’s playing to them as a man who can get things done and who knows when to set aside party loyalty for the greater good.
As for Social Security: that was always an iffy proposition. Anytime you tell folks who vote and who get checks from the government – that is the definition of an American over 65 – that you’re going to change their checks, they get suspicious. And, well, people who are suspicious of politicians don’t re-elect them.
So these probably aren’t great victories. Don’t get me wrong, they’re much needed steps in the right direction, but if I were a Senate or House Democrat, I’d wait to see how things go on the president’s Supreme Court nominee before I crowed the good news from the rooftops.
I worry about this vogue for emphasizing word over deeds and description over action. Why? Well, I think it leads to little missteps like the one that arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. The “2005 Grassroots Survey of Democratic Leaders – wow. that’s me! – was a black and white push poll as well as a fundraising tool. Flatter me, Howard, I’ll do whatever you ask!
It didn’t work well in either respect. One, the questions were just too silly. “Do you support new tax cuts targeted at working families?” No. I want working families to pay more taxes. I’m a tax-and-spend Liberal. Besides who in politics doesn’t want to squeeze the little guy and his family?
That wasn’t insulting enough. The kicker came when I tried to mail back the annotated survey and found that no matter how hard I folded, the survey wouldn’t fit in the envelope the DNC had thoughtfully provided.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:06 PM | Permalink

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