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Friday, January 14, 2005

Meeting Wesley Clark!

On Wed. we attended a reception which counted with the presence of former Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark....This was organized by my friend Howard Park...

now I placed my poker chips behind Howard Dean.. but I have respect for Wesley Clark... if Dean could not win I probably would have wanted Clark....anyways to sum up his brief remarks (he had lost his voice):

1. Democrats need to focus on policies to improve the jobs picture.. right now we don't have an answer on how to keep jobs from going overseas.
2. Republicans are defining all the issues by claiming the language.. thats why we speak of "partial birth abortion" or "tax relief"....

in other words we have a problem with policy and with communication.. whats interesting about the second point is that its identical to the point made by lingust Lakoff in his recent book "Don't Think of an elephant"...check out the brief review from which i reproduce here:

In the first of his three debates with George W. Bush, 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry argued against the war in Iraq not by directly condemning it but by citing the various ways in which airport and commercial shipping security had been jeopardized due to the war's sizable price tag. In so doing, he re-framed the war issue to his advantage while avoiding discussing it in the global terrorism terms favored by President Bush. One possible reason for this tactic could have been that Kerry familiarized himself with the influential linguist George Lakoff, who argues in Don't Think of an Elephant that much of the success the Republican Party can be attributed to a persistent ability to control the language of key issues and thus position themselves in favorable terms to voters. While Democrats may have valid arguments, Lakoff points out they are destined to lose when they and the news media accept such nomenclature as "pro-life," "tax relief," and "family values," since to argue against such inherently positive terminology necessarily casts the arguer in a negative light. Lakoff offers recommendations for how the progressive movement can regain semantic equity by repositioning their arguments, such as countering the conservative call for "Strong Defense" with a call for "A Stronger America" (curiously, one of the key slogans of the Kerry camp). Since the book was published during the height of the presidential campaign, Lakoff was unable to provide an analytical perspective on that race. He does, however, apply the notion of rhetorical framing devices to the 2003 California recall election in an insightful analysis of the Schwarzenegger victory. Don't Think of an Elephant is a bit rambling, overexplaining some concepts while leaving others underexplored, but it provides a compelling linguistic analysis of political campaigning. --John Moe

anyhow I think Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean (who wrote the foreword for the Lakoff book reviewed above), and I and many others are beginning to understand that the democrats are losing because of inability to connect/communicate with the american people...

going back to Wesley Clark: he seemed like the nicest guy, worked the room very well (good strong hand shake), was a bit shorter than i expected, and I hope he remains involved.. he made a point of saying he was going back to the private sector but was not ruling anything out for 2008! i also enjoyed hearing him refer to republican positions on issues as "right wing horse shit"...

1 comment:

HowardPark said...

I saw the Lakoff DVD at a recent Democracy for America Meetup (which evolved out of the Dean campaign). It was interesting and echoed what Frank Luntz has been telling the Repugs for years. I hope to read the book too.

I also liked Clark's new stump speech which was very close to what he said on Hardball the same night as the DC event. Communications are a big part of the challenge for Democrats.

Good blog Serge!

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