About our message, and what we say:
All of which brings us back to those conservative political realists and pragmatists now criticizing Rush over his impolitic (or unclear) remarks: their desire for Limbaugh to be more careful with his phrasings as a way to avoid being misrepresented in a soundbite culture is, frankly, a fool’s game — and, even more frankly, it is indicative of a political strategy that amounts to conceding loss, with the concomitant hope that perhaps we’ll lose more slowly.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the above, and Jeff Goldstein is using Bill Bennett as an example to say this:
No matter how nuanced the speech or how carefully parsed the phraseology is, any message delivered by any rightie will be distorted or hacked apart by the MSM so as to say the opposite of what he/she was trying to say.
The latest evidence of this is the El Rushbo flap. Goldstein presents Rush’s entire remarks in context and if you read the whole thing, any reasonable person will understand immediately what Rush is saying. The bottom line is this
And when your opponents are making the rules, you are necessarily playing their game.
Goldstein goes on to make some great points here
But back to politics: if, as I’ve argued, political realism as a strategy is doomed — not because we can’t be more careful with our words, but rather because it is not always rhetorically effective to do so, nor does such care prevent us from being misrepresented, no matter how precise we try to be — what is the alternative? As many pundits will patiently explain to you, ideological purity and idealism doesn’t win elections, so if not pragmatism, what?
To which I reply, pragmatism is fine. But why not use our idealism pragmatically — which is to say, why not make it our strategy to use idealism as our cudgel against the media and the left in such a way that their tactic of misrepresentation and outrage no longer pays dividends? Why not make it our strategy to destroy their tactics — and in so doing, reaffirm the very principles at the heart of classical liberalism?
One tactic that could be used here is the premature call-out: Just announce prior to making a statement that you expect the MSM to distort what you’re saying and not give you a fair shake. Two options then present themselves (1) the MSM goes ahead and misrepresents you, thus proving your point and giving you more ammo later, or (2) to prove their “fairness” you’re quoted correctly, in which case you get your message out unfiltered by the drive-bys.
One last point:
Rush Limbaugh speaks for Rush Limbaugh. Which is why the next reporter who asks a prominent Republican figure whether or not he or she agrees with Limbaugh’s “hope” that “the President fails” should be met with a firm reminder that the reporter has left out an important part of the context, one that effectively alters the suggestiveness of the question, and that aside from such fundamental dishonesty, Rush Limbaugh is not the head of the party, nor is he an elected leader, so why on earth would I presume to answer for something he said?
Liberals play word games all the time: Take some conservative’s words or statement that may or may not contain some inflammatory language, and make everyone else go and defend it as if we’re responsible for that person’s words. All the while running away like little kids when one of their people steps out of line (which happens 90% of the time over there in libland). Let’s call this tactic “He said it, so you said it”.
This was Michael Steele’s failing on D.L. Hughley and all those other shows. Rather than just saying, “Rush is a radio host, he can say whatever he wants. But while we’re on the subject, let’s look at what Obama is doing here, here, and here….”, he let the MSM make Rush the centerpiece of the debate. In effect, Hughley and the other guests then had an opening to make the debate personal and not issue oriented…
…Which is another one of the left’s tried and true bits of attack politics: Attack the player, not the game. They use this tactic in conjunction with He Said It So You Said It. In this case, they stick a label on a guy and then associate everyone who supports said guy with that label. Call this the “Everybody Knows This” tactic. Its partner is called the “All The Cool Kids Do It Like This” ruse.
An example: “Bush is an idiot”. After a while Everybody Knows Bush is an idiot. It has all the intellectual weight of “Everyone knows that <insert shoe brand X> is totally uncool”. Then the companion tactic comes into view, “Since everyone knows that <insert shoe brand X> is uncool, nobody likes <insert shoe brand X>”.
Then when the target says or does something that appears bad or can be parsed to make it seem that way, we combine all 3 tactics into the Hate Blender (TM) and whip up some good ‘ol lib outrage:
“Bush is such an idiot. How can you possibly support this moron in chief. Did you hear what he said? You must be some kind of outcast monster to align yourself with him!”
How many times have all of us heard that one, eh?
So there you go. Give the label out, repeat ad nauseum, make the defendant throw the poor guy completely overboard for less than 1% of what the target stands for, and note that only fellow idiots could possibly be in agreement (no matter how small) with the target.
Summarizing the above: Liberals are like high school jocks trying to get into some poor girl’s pants.
Here, smoke some weed or drink this, you don’t want to be like <insert the poor girl who gets the dork or frigid label>. Everybody’s doing it. She said it was wrong but everyone knows she’s totally uncool.
Only this time it’s America getting screwed. The good news is, these tactics are easily recognized and we can counter them by calling them out in advance.