Friday, May 10, 2013

Talking Points

In New Think there is a poisonous belief that one can create a new reality through a systematic framing of issues with talking points.

In the perverse world of politics, the talking points are the substance, while the substance is incidental.

The idea is strongest on the left (eg, Chomsky and Lakoff). It is also common on the Right. Notably, Bill O'Reilly calls his monologue the "Talking Point Memo." Fox News will often develop a common set of talking points through its 24 hour reporting cycle.

It is not surprising to see partisans matching the strategy of their enemy.

Come on. Fox News hires people from journalist schools where they are taught how to use talking points in propaganda. They then practice what they learned in school in their profession.

This is the way that it is supposed to work.

If we are upset with our vacuous political system, then we should blame the schools that trained journalists and political scientists to engage in this style of debate.

I watched Jay Carney (the White House Press Secretary) talk about the Benghazi Talking Points and felt sick at the sad state of discourse in America.

Some aspects of the debate are amusing. For example, the Obama Administration did not want to come out and attack the motives of the attackers in Benghazi by calling them "terrorists." However, much of Jay Carney's presentation was about attacking the motives of the whistle-blowers in the Benghazi case.

Anyway, one thing that is really intriguing about the debate is that the talking points are the focus of the debate.

Our politicians have been trained to put a great deal of weight into the talking points.

In the perverse world of politics, the talking points are the substance.

The fact that the Obama Adminstration was more engaged in spinning the talking points than in the substantive matter of protecting diplomats is a good sign that administration is off track.

Now, this method of partisan positioning has consequences.

I want to harken back to the health care debate. The health care debate followed the same pattern as the Benghazi attack.

The health care debate was driven by partisan positioning and talking points. The result of this process is that Congress ended up passing a horrific bill that neither the politicians nor the public understood.

If you waste time watching this Benghazi hearing, I ask that you pay attention to the underlying issue of talking points. Our ruling class has been trained to see the talking points as the substantive.

If all the talking points about the spinning of the talking points makes you want to scream; please do. After screaming, I hope question new think in which we are trained to value the spinning of talking points higher than true substantive debate..

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