Benching sports metaphors

Figures of speech are not just ornamentation.  They can shape the way we think about what they express.  Dana Milbank, annoyed with the way Barack Obama  keeps saying everything is a “game-changer,” points out how the use of sports metaphors in discussing politics and government today is distorting the way we think about them. [Read more...]

Planned Parenthood as political organization

The most effective political organization in America, judged by the recent elections, is Planned Parenthood.  As reported by Sarah Kliff:

Planned Parenthood Action Fund earned an honor this campaign cycle that had nothing to do with women’s health: It was the most effective political group in the 2012 election.

Over 98 percent of its spending was in races that ended with the desired result, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.

Planned Parenthood pulled this off, pollsters and strategists say, with a two-pronged strategy. First, it turned Mitt Romney’s words against him. Then the group used algorithms to identify a group of 1 million female voters, largely in swing states, who were particularly receptive to the group’s message. . . .

Planned Parenthood started with focus groups in the spring, trying to figure out how much voters knew about Romney’s positions on women’s health issues. The answer seemed to be: not a lot. . . .

After that, O’Rourke and her team began testing out what messages worked best to define Romney. They would put up online ads that had personal messages or ones that leveraged Planned Parenthood as an authority on women’s health. . . .

Figuring out the best message was only half the puzzle; Planned Parenthood had to figure out who would be most receptive to their ideas. For that, they turned to micro-targeting, identifying 1 million female voters who were likely to support legal abortion and the health law’s contraceptive mandate.

The group spent about $15 million this year, more than tripling the $4 million it spent in 2008. It wanted to make sure those dollars were targeting the voters who would be open to their message.

“Those were the women that we were going to relentlessly target over and over and over again between June and November,” says Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens.

If you were among the women in that group who lived in Virginia, you received five pieces of direct mail and dozens of phone calls. You would get visits from canvassers, who might hand you a folded-up brochure, styled to look like a pocketbook, that told you Mitt Romney could cost you $407,000 over your lifetime by not supporting no co-pay birth control or equal pay legislation.

via Inside Planned Parenthood’s campaign strategy.

My first reaction is to wonder if conservatives and pro-lifers could ever get that sophisticated.  My second reaction is to think that no one should be so manipulative and mendacious.   “Romney will cost you $407,000.”  I’m sure many of these scientifically-targeted and brow-beaten women thought, “But I don’t have $407,000″ and voted accordingly.

The best campaign ad of them all

In a postmodern, objectively irrelevant, subjectivist, “I like this” kind of way:

HT: Anthony Sacramone.

Constructivist politics

Postmodernists, who believe that truth is relative, reject such retro concepts as logic, evidence, and reason, all of which assume that truth is objective.  Instead, postmodernists practice what they call “constructivism.”  Truth is not something we discover; rather, truth is something we “construct.”  Thus, argumentation involves “de-constructing” other people’s truth claims (showing them to be nothing more than impositions of power) and constructing “plausibility paradigms” to advance your own power-agenda.  And, since truth is inherently personal, another way to argue is to attack the person who holds to that truth.

We all need to understand this, especially in today’s political climate.  Both sides do it.  The very notion of “spin”–which is openly recognized to the point that TV networks set up “spin rooms” and both sides openly acknowledge having “spin doctors”–is an open acknowledgement of postmodernist techniques.  What matters is not overall truth but cherry-picking facts and then giving them an interpretation favorable to the power agenda of one side or another.  For postmodernists, interpretation is more important than information.  A successful argument is a construction of reality that wins over–indeed, that imposes itself on–other people

Here is a particularly blatant example of political constructivism, from the Washington Post in an article on President Obama’s post-debate campaign speech:

Obama said that when he reached the debate stage “I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney,” Obama said, adding that the “real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

The Mitt Romney everyone saw onstage giving his views from his own mouth is not the real Romney.  The real Romney is the one we have been constructing in our campaign ads.

And notice how the fact cited here comes from an elaborately spinning interpretation:  It is claimed, perhaps accurately (a matter for old-school analysis), that Romney’s economic plan doesn’t add up and is off by $5 trillion.  The Democrats then use this number in different ways.  Here Obama calls it $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy.  In the debate and in campaign ads he takes it as a $5 trillion tax increase on the middle class.  This is because for his numbers to add up, he would have to get the $5 trillion from somewhere, so he would have to raise taxes on the middle tax.  Notice the movement  from “would have to” to “will.”  Romney will raise your taxes.

Never mind the Republican belief in supply-side economics and that Republicans from the time of Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush never raise taxes to this magnitude, preferring instead to just let shortages add to the deficit.

Never mind that Romney said in the debate that he would not raise taxes by $5 trillion.  Furthermore, that he would not cut what the wealthy are paying now.

No, this is not his real position.  His real position is what we say it is, the way we have constructed it.

 

via Obama challenges Romney’s candor morning after 1st debate, says rival owes people ‘the truth’ – The Washington Post.

The Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention got underway and on television yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.  I do intend to watch what I can, but I couldn’t tune in last night.  Could anyone report on what transpired?  What themes do you expect to see?  What arguments or what feelings will the Democrats use to keep Americans from concentrating on the usual determining issue, that it’s the economy, stupid?  Are you finding their appeals at least rhetorically effective?

A lexicon of new racist words

One argument we are already hearing is that if you are against President Obama you must be racist.  That’s a powerful subliminal argument, though when it’s made explicit it can get pretty ridiculous.  Thus Democrats are taking umbrage (or pretending to do so) at a raft of seemingly-innocent words that they claim are actually code for racism.  Among them:

angry

Chicago

Constitution

Experienced

Golf

Food stamps

Holding Down the Fort

Kitchen Cabinet

Obamacare

Privileged

Professor

You people

For explanations and quotations see That’s Racist! – Michelle Malkin – National Review Online.


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