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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Karl Rove Technique # 14

I believe it is wise not to be to hasty with the Trojan Horse that Walker and Fitzgerald have built with this latest legislative maneuver. As much as I would like to strike, strike back, or other wise show my anger...I believe we need to remain calm and continue our RECALL efforts and maintain the movements legitimacy. Men of power and money ready to launch framed media events to squash our legitmate grievances. Public Opinion is very important and before major actions are taken we need to be sure the people of this state and the nation are with us. Remember, the RNC, Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and every Extreme Right Conservative Republican is involved. Due care needs to be addressed to redirect our anger so we are the Adult in this debate. not be afraid because we will be victorious!

The following are some Karl Rove Techniques that need to be reviewed in light of the events on this Ash Wednesday. The following comes from the following link:

#14: Rhetorical Devices
Rhetorical devices are tricks that manipulate how information is presented, influencing how the public responds to issues and candidates. The Rovian campaign machine relies heavily on the following rhetorical devices:

* Misrepresenting a person's position and presenting it in a form that people will reject
In 2004, Bush characterized Kerry’s health care plan as a government program that would lead to rationing. Despite Kerry’s denials, Bush persisted in repeating this mischaracterization.

* Take your opponent’s words out of context
The Rove campaign team routinely combs through comments of their opponents to find comments that can be damaging when taken out of context. At one point during the 2004 campaign, Kerry declared, “I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror.” Vice President Dick Cheney then lifted the word “sensitive” out of this statement, declaring, “President Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive warfare, nor did President Roosevelt, nor Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur.” By taking Kerry’s statement out of context, Cheney was able to depict Kerry as unmanly (in contrast with Bush’s macho persona).

* Three-Card Monte
The Three-Card Monte is a sophisticated rhetorical technique, used in the following way: Bush makes a false statement. He then qualifies it by admitting its falsehood, but then reiterates the first statement, reinforcing the idea in the mind of the public. Columnist Paul Krugman provides the following example in reference to how Bush linked terrorism to the Iraq war:
Speeches about Iraq invariably included references to 9/11, leading much of the public to believe that invading Iraq somehow meant taking the war to the terrorists. When pressed, war supporters would admit that they lacked evidence of any significant links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, let alone any Iraqi role in 9/11-yet in the next sentence it would be 9/11 and Saddam, together again.
Krugman points out that the Bush administration used this same rhetorical technique as part of its plan to overhaul social security:
…Calls for privatization invariably begin with ominous warnings about Social Security’s financial future. When pressed, administration officials admit that private accounts would do nothing to improve that financial future. Yet in the next sentence, they once again link privatization to the problems posed by an aging population.

* Shift the burden of proof
The “burden of proof” is a legalistic sounding term, which refers to which party in a dispute has the responsibility to prove what he/she asserts. This concept is also tied to the notion of whether a person is presumed innocent or guilty. A prime example occurred in Iraq. Paul and Elder observe,
‘Wait a minute before I have to prove that the invasion of Iraq was justified, you need to prove that it wasn't.’ In point of fact any country that invades another needs to have powerful evidence to justify that act. No country has the obligation to prove that it ought not to be invaded. By international law, the burden of proof is on the other side, the side that initiates violence.

* Shift the argument
The Bush political machine seamlessly changes its rationale for a policy if the given reason falls flat. Over time, the rationale for the war in Iraq shifted several times:
• Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.
• Saddam’s complicity in the attack of 9/11
• Bringing democracy to Iraq
• Saddam was an evil man.
This rhetorical technique depends on the limited attention span of the audience, as well as Bush’s conviction and media support.

* Personal Testimonials
This is an old campaign device, in which average citizens who personify issues and concerns are trotted out at public events. Bill Clinton invited individuals to each of his State of the Union Addresses and told their stories as a way to put a face on impersonal policy decisions. Karl Rove fully recognizes the value of this tactic. The Bush campaign has used veterans, families of 9/11 victims, and senior citizens who personify the points that Bush is trying to make.

* Ignore/Downplay the Evidence
When faced with incriminating evidence, one approach is to ignore it. In his 2004 campaign speeches, Bush simply overlooked the evidence to paint a rosy scenario about Iraq and the economy.
A related rhetorical technique occurs when the Bush team downplays potentially damaging evidence. To illustrate, in October 2004, there were news reports that after the American invasion of Baghdad, a cache of explosives were missing (See discussion, Tactic #5). These explosives were powerful enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings. In fact, the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 used less than one pound of this type of material. However, Bush spokesperson Scott McClellen minimized its significance, saying that the stockpile contained “no nuclear materials.”
A third approach occurs when Bush uses incriminating evidence to support his own position. In October 2004, the (Atomic Energy Commission?) released its definitive report on the status of weapons in Iraq. Not only did it conclude that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the American invasion, but, according to the report, Iraq’s weapons capabilities had actually declined since the first Gulf War; in other words, the sanctions had been working. However, the Bush camp claimed that the report vindicated their actions, citing one passage in the lengthy report that noted that Saddam entertained intentions about weapons of mass destruction; if he could have produced weapons, he probably would have.
In this case, the Bush campaign made the following assumptions that proved correct: 1) people won’t read the document in its entirety; 2) the right-wing media would trumpet Rove’s positive spin; 3) response in the interest of “fairness” the non-ideological media would give equal attention to the Bush Administration’s statement, legitimizing this false assertion.

* Substitute Fact for Truth
Many of Rove’s political ads are designed confuse voters by presenting isolated facts as truth. For instance, during the 2000 Republican primaries, a Bush ad ran in Iowa and New Hampshire, making the following claims: 1) as Governor of Texas, he signed the two largest tax cuts in Texas history; and 2) reduced the growth of state government spending to the lowest in 40 years.
Bush opponent Steve Forbes disputed these claims, pointing out that, as governor, Bush had sought a half-cent increase in the state sales tax and a new-business levy. Forbes also charged that Bush had boosted the two-year Texas budget from $72.8 billion to $98.1 billion.
However, the Bush campaign refused to back down, citing a litany of facts: “real per capita” state spending increased just 2.7 percent—after taking into consideration inflation, population growth, and property tax relief.
As Economics reporter David Leonhardt explains, “Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants.” In the face of this bewildering array of information, facts become meaningless. Truth has become reduced to a matter of faith—whose facts the public chooses to believe.
In other cases, facts are distorted or omitted entirely. To illustrate, a 2000 Bush campaign ad took aim at Al Gore's positions on Medicare prescription drug benefits and on education. The narration included the following charges: Al Gore's prescription plan forces seniors into a government- run H.M.O. Gore says he's for school accountability, but requires no real testing...Gore's targeted tax cuts leave out 50 million people-- half of all taxpayers.”
However, according to reporter Alison Mitchell, this ad “stretched” the facts:
Mr. Gore does not force the elderly to accept his new prescription drug benefit. It is voluntary. And Medicare recipients can stay in traditional plans where they choose their own doctors. Mr. Gore's plan does rely on private benefit managers to manage the program-- just like private insurers do-- which encourages use of generic drugs and less expensive brand names. But these are not H.M.O.'s.
On schools, Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore both propose testing and different kinds of accountability measures, but Mr. Bush's proposal calls for tests that would cover more grades and be more frequent than does Mr. Gore's.
Statistics can also be employed to confuse rather than clarify the truth. During the 2004 campaign, Bush declared that the War on Terrorism was a success, claiming that “75% of Al Qaeda had been captured.” Not only was there no way to verify this information, but this pronouncement did not take into consideration the number of new Al Qaeda members who had been recruited during this period.
Indeed, the Bush campaign does not hesitate to rewrite history when it is to their advantage. For instance, in the past, Republicans were highly critical of budget deficits, arguing that they were detrimental to the economic well being of the country. However, during the 2004 campaign, Bush reversed course, contending that the deficits accrued during his first term would have a minimal impact.
This rhetorical device has also been incorporated into the Bush administration’s daily operations. In January 2005, the administration defended the legitimacy of the upcoming Iraqi elections, since only four of the eighteen provinces in the country were deemed too unsafe to conduct the vote. But although this may be factually accurate, the larger truth is that approximately fifty percent of the population lives in these four provinces.

* Evasive Rhetorical Techniques - The Rovian playbook includes the following rhetorical techniques designed to avoid difficult or embarrassing questions.
- Jokes Answering a hard question with a joke that deflects the query.
- Truistic answers - These answers may be true, but they do not answer the question. For instance, in response to the question, "How long will the troops have to remain in Iraq?” Bush answered, "As long as it is necessary and not one day longer."
- Diversions - This technique involves providing an answer so long and detailed that the speaker manages to avoid answering the thrust of the question.
- Talk in Vague Generalities - Paul and Elder explain, “It is hard to prove people wrong when they can't be pinned down. So instead of focusing on particulars, manipulators talk in the most-vague terms they can get away with.”
- Ignore the Main Point - Because Rove puts candidate Bush in a position in which his statements go unchallenged (e.g., debates or press conferences in which the journalist only asks one question), he can simply choose to ignore the question and provide an answer to a different topic.
For instance, during the 3rd debate of the 2004 election, Bush was asked a question about minimum wage. Bush immediately moved the question to a discussion on education.
Strategic Response
An awareness of these evasive techniques should enable campaign strategists and journalists to deflect these tactics. In all of these cases, the best approach is to challenge the opponent so that they are forced to speak directly. In addition, a campaign can call public attention to the continual use of these evasive techniques—people don’t like liars or slippery politicians. Consequently, the candidate can insist on straight answers: “People deserve a direct answer.”
TV and radio appearances provide a record of statements (and misstatements),
which can be used to prod the collective memory of the public. Political ads can simply
play the opponent’s comments and then point out the fallacies of these statements.
The candidate can then express “disappointment” (an acceptable reaction) with the opponent’s desperate tactics.
Humor is also an effective response to these rhetorical devices. For instance, during the issue of the missing explosives discussed above, The Daily Show, John Stewart juxtaposed clips of Bush’s statements with footage of explosive devastation, making jokes about how the president was not operating in reality. Employing a good joke writer on the campaign staff might be a welcome addition to the campaign staff.
However, politicians have limited opportunities to challenge their opponents in a timely, direct fashion. The time constraints of debates make it nearly impossible to confront the opponent and, at the same time, make his/her own points.
Thus, it is largely up to the media to assume this responsibility. This response requires that the media think of themselves as a body—the fourth estate—who serve as societal watchdogs, instead of a collection of individuals whose priority is only to promote their own careers. For instance, during the Watergate scandal, President Nixon conducted news conferences, in which he would employ many of these evasive tactics. However, on these occasions, the next reporter relinquished his/her prepared question and instead asked a follow-up question, pressing Nixon to respond to the previous question. It is imperative, then, that political strategists encourage them to be prepared to challenge all candidates who evade questions.

1 comment:

  1. In the part of the post - Ignore/Downplay the Evidence - you mention the bombing of "Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988". The following link is to an article concerning evidence that was ignored at the Camp Zeist in Holland in 2001 -

    Michael Follon, Scotland