Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Re" Words

Frank Luntz, the master GOP opinion guru who uses hand-held twist dials to instantly measure individuals' responses phrase by phrase in speeches, was on Ingraham and Hewitt yesterday, flogging his new book Words that Work.

Here's what he said about the President's "surge" message:
Well, first off, the word surge was so inappropriate, because it only focuses people’s attention on the number of troops. What he should have talked about was a resetting and a realignment, resetting of where we stand, and a reexamination of the conditions in Iraq as they stand right now, and then a realignment of troops and resources, because if we reexamine and we reset and we realign, it’s more about the overall policy, the overall strategy of Iraq, rather than the troop count.
In this world of "Re"' words, the Dems presumably are a bit ahead of the GOP with their talk of redeployment -- but not really because it's pretty limp, as "Re" words go. Redeploy to where? For what reason? With what orders? What rules of engagement?

Luntz' words -- reexamination, resetting and realignment -- are a bit weak around the edges, because one would assume that in a war these are continuous functions, and because of all this "Re"-ing going on, it was determined that a surge is now important. But in war and building the political base for war, assumptions are a poor excuse for clarity.

That's why Bush is weak -- because he has not been able to communicate that he has, in fact, been doing all those "Re"-words all along. He does a pretty good job communicating what he believes in, and that he's sticking to those beliefs, but he doesn't take the time to bring the nation along with him. Describe the threat. Describe the options and their upsides and downsides. Describe what you know (not believe) and how you know it. Then describe what you're doing.

Luntz shouldn't have to coach on these simple fundamentals, but the GOP does have to listen. Bush's speechwriters should be "Re"-drafting the State of the Union even now. I fear they're not.

I liked the "surge" speech, but I believed in the philosphy going in and didn't need convincing. To win over those who are skeptical (forget those who are rabidly anti-Bush), new language is needed.

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