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July 2, 2006

Why Swift-Boating Works

-- by Dave Johnson

From an article I came across: Variety.com - 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C.,

Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."

Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.

If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.

"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.

"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ... (snorrrrrrrrrrre).

Hence the lack of public outrage against a possible blatant violation of the Constitution, and the reason why Democrats, yet again, look like feckless pedants on national security.

Resonant narrative in an age of audacity. Ann Coulter is not an accident.

Update -

"We live in the world of the Story, not the world of the truth. Conservatives get that. Liberals are still trying to learn it."

Posted by Dave Johnson at July 2, 2006 10:25 PM

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"We live in the world of the Story, not the world of the truth. Conservatives get that. Liberals are still trying to learn it."

Woah. Did I read that right? Deception: good. Truth: bad. If only Liberals were more Machiavellian like the neocons...

Look, the underlying issue is ignorance. These stories are powerful only until the facts come in. Furthermore, they have zero power if the facts are there already. That's why babies thrown from incubators, the WMD's, and "Murtha's a coward" are effective, but have short lifespans: because they are opportunist lies that require an ignorant (and trusting) audience to swallow them. Nobody calls bullshit, so they work.

Democrats do not need more "stories." What the Dems do need, however, are communication skills. And balls. Balls would help tremendously. (e.g. "The President suggested to Tony Blair that we kill our own pilots to start a war with Iraq.")

But to advocate deception is repugnant to me. There's already plenty of truth out there that is very persuasive; Liberals don't need to become full-blown liars to win. If they do, then I don't want them to win anyway.

Plus, I don't want to take another cryptography class just so I can read the daily news. I'll just stop reading, stop voting, and stop caring because it'd all be a collection of sophistic B.S. anyway, so what'd be the point?

Posted by: secretmojo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 3, 2006 4:09 PM

"We live in the world of the Story, not the world of the truth. Conservatives get that. Liberals are still trying to learn it."

Most importantly, Progressives are trying to Change it. The quote is a cultural truth, which means it can be changed by appealing to our human ability to reason.

I'm with secretmojo on this. The MSM has got to be less focused on the story - ie; their financial bottom-line - and only a concerted effort by non-office holding Democrats will effect this change.

Yah... Sounds like stretch, but we've seen it done before. And stretching is exactly what is needed.

Even if it does take a bloody Marketing Team to help stretch it.

Posted by: Michael Bains [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2006 2:32 PM

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