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January 26, 2005

Frank Luntz's Descent Into Madness Continues

As I just mentioned, Republican pollster Frank Luntz was on the Al Franken Show yesterday with Josh Marshall. Luntz explained that it's unacceptable for the media to use "privatization" or "private accounts" to refer to Bush's plans for Social Security.

Now, this is completely insane. But it actually wasn't the MOST insane thing Luntz said. Check this out:

Luntz had declared that the term "private accounts" is "pejorative." When asked why, this was his answer.

LUNTZ: ...if someone uses "Israel," I know that they're most likely to be a supporter. If someone uses the phrase "State of Israel," I know that they are creating a distance (dissonance?). If someone uses the phrase "private accounts" or "privatization," I have an idea of where they stand on Social Security.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say: what the fuck?

Seriously. What the fuck is Luntz talking about? If referring to the "State of Israel" is pejorative, then many more people are anti-Israel than I suspected.

For instance:

The Judicial Authority of the State of Israel
Copyright (c) 1997-1998, The State of Israel. All Rights Reserved.

The Israel Government Gateway, which is the "one point entry to [Israeli] Government sites"
The State of Israel. All Rights Reserved © 2004.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Copyright ©2004 The State of Israel. All rights reserved

Natan Sharansky, hard right Israeli politician
To be a good Zionist for me means to have a strong connection with the State of Israel.

In addition, according to Google, there are another 1,780,000 references to the "State of Israel" online. I don't think they're all by Hamas.

Posted at January 26, 2005 07:53 AM | TrackBack

Silly me. I thought the pejorative way to refer to the S. of I. was to refer to it as the "Zionist Entity." Of course, Luntz must know better and I bow to his wisdom.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at January 26, 2005 08:10 AM

This isn't actually as insane as it sounds. If I say "I'm in favour of the destruction of Israel," that can be interpreted widely as meaning historical Israel, the tribe(s) of Israel, zionists, Jews in general, etc, and would undoubtedly be labeled anti-Semitic. On the other hand if I specify "the State of Israel," I make it clear that I'm refering specifically to the political entity created in 1948, and even more to the point that the problem isn't Israel per se but the fact that it is a state, i.e. recognizing sovereign state power in a particular ethnic group and an apartheid government. Considering all the horrors that ensue from that situation, seeking its destruction is a perfectly reasonable position (which of course Luntz would still try to call anti-Semitic.)

That is Luntz's real enemy: using precise language to describe the problem limits his weasel room and often leaves his arguments dead in the water (at least until he gets his underlying premise sufficiently seared in.) Interesting how both you and he instinctively recognized the similarities in the rhetoric.

Posted by: john at January 26, 2005 01:05 PM

Avigail Abarbanel, an Australian psychotherapist, formerly a staff sergeant in the Israel military, describes "Israeli Denial Dysfunction". She believes it could be cured by "justice" - her idea is simple, but not easy, and would require attitude adjustments by populations in place that would be difficult, if not impossible.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 26, 2005 02:15 PM

You can have a lot of fun with looneys like Luntz if you ever get the chance to interview them. All that's needed is to quietly ask questions (such as "how do you know that?") that get them to backtrack through their reasoning, such that it is. Pretty soon the tantrums start.

Posted by: Jim Shanahan at January 26, 2005 07:27 PM

If someone says "toenails pulled out with pliers", we might know where they stand on the issue of torture. On the other hand if someone (such as my congressman, Devin Nunes, in a recent letter) says: "the extent to which such methods appear harsh depends on the individual", we also know where they stand.

Posted by: Pulaski at January 27, 2005 04:51 PM