BARNSTORMING 

For the modern GOP winning is the only thing.

SCORCHED EARTH In every sport from wrestling to warfare there is some sort of rulebook: a strict code of conduct designed to insure fair play and respond to the cunning, and virtuosity of players who would remake the game to their best advantage. There are reasons why plays like the “flying wedge” were universally abolished from football, although the indefensible gambit was a stroke of pure genius on behalf of coaches determined to take, and own the end zone. But the Wedge took a human toll, and its inevitable results threatened both the drama, and credibility of the sport. Now the GOP has a special playbook created by Right Wing ideologue Frank Luntz.: a handy guide for securing Republican victories based on analysis of the 2004 elections. It’s filled with flying wedges and political stratagems threatening to demolish any shred of integrity left in the American democratic process

The 160-page “Luntz Playbook,” can be neatly summarized in nine little words: “My fellow Republicans, the facts are not your friends.” Consider the truth, and consequences to advice like this fine Luntzian pearl:

Without the context of 9/11, [Republican Candidates] will be blamed for the deficit. The deficit is a touchy subject for both Republicans and Democrats -- your supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility, and Democrats see nothing but hypocrisy. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, which Republicans sometimes do, but not early enough in the answer.

Here the greatest American intelligence failure and tragedy of our generation is transformed into Not Me, the invisible child who breaks vases in Bill Keane’s long-running comic strip The Family Circus. This special Judo would be insulting were the implications not so terribly dire: fear is all exonerating; accountability perished in the flames of the World Trade Center. Luntz’s observation--if honest and proven--reveals the malice and madness hidden behind the method of modern Republican strategery. Here’s another of Luntz’s observations on 9/11, the all-purpose political Flubber:

September 11 changed everything. So start with 9/11. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have $500 billion dollar deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6% and why we are still in a rebuilding mode. Much of public anger can be immediately pacified if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation today if 9/11 had not happened, and that it is unfair to blame the current political leadership or corporate America for the consequences of that day.

Start with 9/11, dodge with 9/11, finish with 9/11; wrap it all up in a yellow ribbon and PACIFY the rabble. Fuck cake and circuses give them hell and brimstone. Build your fortress from the salt of their tears. Ladies and gentlemen, the Reichstag is on fire--REPEAT--The Reichstag is on fire!

Master debater Kenneth Burke would be proud of Luntz’s Playbook. In keeping the esteemed linguist’s rules for argumentative engagement it represents an exacting rhetoric of pure motive, espousing, but exempt from morality, reality, and habeas corpus. It’s a fact-defying rhetoric of naked Victory caring nothing for the game, the players or the fans. The rule breakers are now the rule makers, and clock is ticking.

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