The Washington Post reports about an interesting memo from Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Knowing that how you frame the issues is more important than the issues themselves, Luntz offers Republicans some talking points on phraseology.
With voter anxieties about Iraq shadowing this year’s campaign, pollster Frank Luntz has some advice for fellow Republicans: Mind your language. Luntz, according to a strategy paper that fell into the hands of Democrats, says minor changes in language used by politicians can lead to major differences in voter perceptions — turning a potential liability into an asset.
Among his suggested talking points, in the nine-page section on Iraq and terrorism:
• It’s not the war in Iraq — it’s the war on terror. "You will not find any instance in which we suggest that you use the actual word ‘preemption’ or the phrase ‘the War in Iraq’ to communicate your policies to the American public. To do so is to undermine your message from the start," it said. "Your efforts are about ‘the principles of prevention and protection’ in the greater ‘War on Terror.’"
• Remember: better there than here. "’Prevention at home can require aggressive action abroad’ is the best way to link a principle the public supports with the policies of the Administration," it said. " ‘It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington.’"
• Don’t forget the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "’9/11 changed everything’ is the context by which everything follows. No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11."
• Don’t forget Saddam Hussein. "’The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.’ Enough said."
• And don’t forget the troops. "Nothing matters more than Americans in the line of fire," it said. "Never, ever, EVER give a speech or issue a press release that makes no mention of our troops."
In an e-mailed response, phrasemaker Luntz declined to comment on his paper.
Read the bullet points. Learn them. And recognize it when you see it.