Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, April 07, 2006

  An Age of Audacity?

Several times I've expressed concern about the infantilization of American politics by the right wing, such as the penchant of national Republicans for meeting hard facts with stories. Stories can meld a heady mixture of fiction just as easily as presenting facts. Fictions don't serve politicians who are responsible.

I'm especially worried about those on the left who have embraced framing and narratives willy-nilly. With this compulsion to resist the right wing nuts on their own territory, it's easy to forget that there's a good reason why it's their territory. It's inherently fictional. There's no advantage in the long term to placing fiction up against fiction. We'll do best by insisting on facing up to the facts, which the GOoPers have spectacularly failed to do.

Harry Shearer threw garish light on the question in his own inimitable way. Here is the link at Le Show for the program aired on Feb. 12, 2006 (ca. 34 minutes into the show).

From Variety: Swift Boat pros in demand in DC.

If you can construct believable stories with enough truth in them to smear somebody royally, there is a pot of gold waiting for you in DC. The story goes into the history a little bit of the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry, and says Democrats and liberals have tried similar PR offensives, most recently against Supreme Court nominees, but with far less success. "Why?" asks the story. Because blue-state spin-meisters haven't yet mastered what their red-state counterparts have:

"Modern communication isn't about truth. It's about a resonant narrative." Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide, 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.

If the Swift Boat attack seemed audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity." "George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," he continues. "Democrats communicate in terms of complexity."

It's the Age of Audacity. That makes a lot more sense than calling this the Information Age...when people don't know crap. That's just a conclusion I draw, ladies and gentlemen, upon having read the Trades for you...

We've created an Age of Audacity. Now who can't be proud of that accomplishment? Novelist Dezenhall, for one; he was not always this dismissive of facts, not when they looked like good ammunition that is. Here is his hang-wringing on Fox News in 2004 about the truthfulness of Dan Rather and CBS during the TANG flap. You won't be surprised to learn that he is a professional hounder of left-wingers. His company, we're told, "prides itself on designing aggressive public relations campaigns to counter activist groups." An aggressive flack, then.

By some coincidence, his general perspective on life is of the carnival funhouse variety. For example, there is this nugget of his wisdom: "The American public is far more offended by inconsistency than by naughty behavior."

This is the ultimate destination of a world addicted to spin; it's not the senseless slaughter of our Constitution that shocks, it's the fact that such a `nice man' as George Bush wielded the knife.

So what Age are we living in? The Age of Audacity? The Information Age? Or the Don't Know Crap Age? I leave it to you to sort out.


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