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May 9, 2007

Smoking Politics

-- by Dave Johnson

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce

There was a time when this country worked to solve its problems.

There was a time in this country when political campaigns were about issues and solutions and ideas.

There was a time when our legislators honestly debated, and minds could be changed, and bipartisan laws could be passed.

There was a time when America was seen as an honest broker for peace, even in the Middle East. And there was even a time when there were solar panels on roof of the White House.

Ronald Reagan - the "Marlboro Man" - took office as President in 1981 - 26 years ago! That means that people under 40 today don't even remember a time when America "worked" and took care of its people and paid its bills. They don't remember a time when the people rather than the corporations and the rich made the decisions. And it especially means that they don't remember a time when campaigns were about anything other than cheap psychological tricks and smears.

Since then liberals and progressives and Democrats of all kinds and colors have been looking back in shock and awe and wondering what happened to them, and what has been happening to the country. Why have we been getting meaner and uglier and greedier and more violent?

Smoking Politics is about what has been happening to us and our country. Smoking Politics is about looking into and exposing the techniques and the tricks and the scams and the sophisticated psychological persuasion methods that are used on us. Smoking Politics is an organization and website and radio show and campaign to get ahead of this attack politics and restore America's ability to make decisions and solve problems and take care of its people again.

Why the name "Smoking Politics?" In our post announcing Smoking Politics, we wrote,

Why do we call this project "Smoking Politics?" Because the origins of the conservative strategy of Fear and $mear come out of the golden age of the tobacco companies. The tobacco companies learned that with the right combination of psychological persuasion tactics and media budget that literally anything could be marketed to the American public.

They were so good that they could persuade people to kill themselves - and to hand over their money while they did it. The right saw the success of this strategy - and noted the total lack of facts and morals involved and decided - if people will pay to smoke, maybe they could be convinced to support a right-wing agenda which was equally deadly. Maybe they could actually convince blue-collar workers to accept the right-wing agenda that asked them to give up their health care and pensions so CEOs could buy bigger jets? So they took these tactics into the political realm.

In that post we wrote about the tactics of Fear and $mear,
...the tobacco strategy of Fear and $mear, combined with the psychological persuasion tactic of "Marlboro Man" appeals to self-image and its counter-image of ridiculing and humiliating the "wimp" became America's politics.

What is Ronald Reagan's image, hat askew on his horse, if not that of the Marlboro Man?

And how did they cast Jimmy Carter to prepare the country for Reagan's campaign, if not the ineffective wimp and an object of ridicule - despite the fact that Jimmy Carter was a Navy man? Sound familiar? Fear and $mear.

So we are moving rapidly into the 2008 election season, and we're seeing the tactics of Fear and $mear coming out to poison our politics once again.

The most recent example? At the request of the Port of San Francisco, Speaker Nancy Pelosi added a $25 million in waterfront improvements for her city, San Francisco, to a water redevelopment bill passed by the House in April. The Republican Party issued a press release accusing her of corruption, falsely stating that Pelosi had inserted the "earmark" to benefit her husband, who owns property "very close" to the waterfront. AP, without checking any of the facts, wrote a story echoing the Republican Party statement, which was immediately pushed by the Drudge Report.

The right-wing amplifier kicked into action. A few examples:

Greg Sargent of TPM'S Horse's Mouth actually bothered to check the facts, and found that there was nothing to the story, that the Port had requested the improvements, and that Pelosi's husband's property was actually three miles away from the proposed improvement.

Media Matters also has details, in their post AP ran false headline on story reporting baseless GOP allegations against Pelosi

So here we are again, with the so-called "conservatives" using another lie and smear to try to sway people. How long will this continue? Until the public is made aware that they actually do just lie.

And that's what smoking Politics will be working to do - expose the lies, expose the tactic of Fear and $mear. Stop by and say hi. Or listen in today at Noon Eastern as we have our weekly BlogTalkRadio Show, "Smoking Politics Radio Show."

Listen Live

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 9, 2007 8:07 AM

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Comments

God, you're right! It's been a full generation since this country actually had normal adult values and lived up to them. Honesty, integrity, stuff like that. This is terrifying to realize. We're probably well into our Decline and Fall. The Republican candidates are all lined up as Reagan Republicans, as though he was some kind of saint! Believe it or not, the Republican party was, once upon a time, an honorable party, but you have to be awfully old to have actually seen that.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 9, 2007 10:46 AM

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