. . . Sunday January 16, 2005

Framing, Gaming, and Blaming

Reporters from the Washington Post got some sit down time with W aboard Air Force One. Here are a few excerpts from the interview transcript:

Check out this early question from the Post:

The Post: Only two-thirds of the beneficiaries of Social Security, as you know, are retired people. The rest are disabled and people collecting survivor’s benefits. Do you think that the rising costs of disability and survivor’s insurance is causing the overall Social Security problem, and can you promise that the benefits will not be touched under your reform plan?”

Incredible media moment here, folks. W and team are looking to change SS. The main strategy is to first convince Americans that there is a “problem” with the way things are now. That is the core of the early marketing campaign. In this question, Post reporters ask a question about the overall SS problem. They think they are being probing and tough. The truth is that they’ve bought into W’s framing of the issue. Social Security and Problem go together. Game over. That’s how framing works. And it works incredibly well.

The Post: In Iraq, there’s been a steady stream of surprises. We weren’t welcomed as liberators, as Vice President Cheney had talked about. We haven’t found the weapons of mass destruction as predicted. The postwar process hasn’t gone as well as some had hoped. Why hasn’t anyone been held accountable, either through firings or demotions, for what some people see as mistakes or misjudgments?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 election. And the American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me, for which I’m grateful.

Got that? You voted for W. You voted for Iraq. All mistakes are washed away. Welcome to the new mandate.

The Post: Why do you think [Osama] bin Laden has not been caught?

THE PRESIDENT: Because he’s hiding.

When you’re good, you’re good.

The Post: It’s good, short is good. Why should D.C., which is a top terrorist threat, why should they have to spend $12 million from their budget — from their homeland security budget they get from the federal government — to provide security for the inauguration?

THE PRESIDENT: The inauguration is a high-profile event, like a lot of other events that, unfortunately, in the world in which we live, could be an attractive target for terrorists…

Don’t you hate this line of questioning? It mirrors what you read on some of the far left sites. Let me promise all of my fellow Dems something. We will not shift the political trends in this country by arguing that we shouldn’t spend money securing the inauguration. Get serious.

The Post: Do you plan to expend any political capital to aggressively lobby senators for a gay marriage amendment?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I think that the situation in the last session — well, first of all, I do believe it’s necessary; many in the Senate didn’t, because they believe DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] will — is in place, but — they know DOMA is in place, and they’re waiting to see whether or not DOMA will withstand a constitutional challenge.

The Post: Do you plan on trying to — using the White House, using the bully pulpit, and trying to —

THE PRESIDENT: The point is, is that senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I’d take their admonition seriously.

The Post: But until that changes, you want it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, until that changes, nothing will happen in the Senate. Do you see what I’m saying?

Just in case you don’t, he’s saying that the whole gay marriage thing was a campaign season invention designed to distract voters from the fact that Iraq is a disaster and the economy is sluggish. So you will not hear about such an amendment again until next election. Got it?

Concentration is important!