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Friday, December 2, 2011

Take the Luntz Story With a Grain of Salt

There was a lot of chatter yesterday regarding this story about the Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida this week.  Most of the chatter revolved around veteran GOP propaganda flack Frank Luntz offering the Republican governors advice on how to talk about economic issues. 

In the left blogosphere, almost everybody focused on the part of the story in which Luntz told the assembled Republican governors, “I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort.  I’m frightened to death.  They’re having a big impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”  A good many in Left Blogistan trumpeted this news, arguing that “Luntz admitting the impact of Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent and telling closed-door meetings of Republicans that it frightens him is a huge victory for the movement.” 

And who knows, maybe Luntz really is scared, but this is the kind of thing that – when I hear it – I take with a grain of salt.  The bottom line is that Republicans pay Frank Luntz an obscene amount of money to tell them what phrases they should deploy in order to advance their own interests.  He was paid to show up at the RGA and speak to them about problems with which they need help finessing.  He identified a problem for them (one that has been in the news a lot, so it’s timely) and told them that he could help them – for a fee.

But what else would one expect him to say?  Well you guys, the Occupy movement is getting a lot of press lately but it’s not a big deal.  Still, if you want to give me a lot of money I can teach you how to dismiss the movement in front of the cameras.  Of course he’s not going to say that.  Frank Luntz is going to tell the Republican governors (i) that there is a very serious problem they need to confront, (ii) that he, Frank Luntz, can help them to confront it, and (iii) by the way, here’s my fee schedule.  And that’s exactly what he did.

Again . . . Luntz really could be genuinely “frightened to death” by the Occupy movement, but the fact that he made that statement in this setting, in front of this audience, means we just can’t know whether he really is scared or whether he is just trolling for a buck.

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