Chinks in Bush's Messaging
One reason that George W Bush is so effective in his messaging is he will repeat the same thing over and over and over again. As Bill Keller wrote last year:
Both presidents [Bush and Reagan], schooled in the discipline of message, can sound to those who listen for a living as if they have been programmed by some attending Svengali.
''This business of saying the same thing over and over and over again -- which to a lot of Washington insiders and pundits is boring -- works,'' Deaver said. ''That was sort of what we figured out in the Reagan White House. And I think these people do it very, very well.''
This works because many people will only catch the message a very few times because they too busy to follow the news to see the repetition. They'll only see it enough to make it sound true.
Yet, this can be a problem for Bush, especially when a message doesn't really fly and he comes back to it (it's a pretty closed loop system in that brain) even when it can only cause people to question what else comes out of his mouth.
Back last summer, on August 1st, President Bush whined that the reason the economy wasn't doing very well was because beginning in March 2002, the news media started to have stories that focused on war and this caused a certain uneasiness in our business climate.
Then as the economy kind of got going again, the enemy attacked us. September the 11th had a significant impact on our economy. And then we discovered some of our corporate CEOs forgot to tell the truth, and that affected confidence. And then as you may remember, Tom, we had the steady drumbeat to war. As I mentioned in my press conference the other day, on our TV screens there was a -- on some TV screens -- there was a constant reminder for the American people, "march to war." War is not a very pleasant subject in people's minds, it's not conducive for the investment of capital.
The reaction was, no s*t ,Sherlock. And if there was a drumbeat for war, whose fault was that?
So, you'd think someone would let him know that this message went over like a lead balloon, especially when everyone pointed out that the only reason the media was writing the stories was because the BUSH administration was marching us to war.
But, evidently, it must "poll" well because it's crept back into his speeches. Just the other day, in a fundraising speech, he once more used this excuse for his miserable economy.
Laura reminded me one time about, on the TV screens, you started to see the banner, "March to War," in the summer of 2002. That's not very conducive for investing capital. If you're an employer, if you're a small business owner and all of a sudden you're thinking about marching to war, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the economy. We overcame that. Now we're marching to peace, by the way. The world is more peaceful.
Slate's William Saletan reaction wasn't much better than the first time this message came around:
What really kills me is when Bush includes in his list of challenges the "march to war" in Iraq. As he put it yesterday, "Laura reminded me one time about, on the TV screens, you started to see the banner, 'March to War,' in the summer of 2002. That's not very conducive for investing capital. If you're an employer, if you're a small business owner and all of a sudden you're thinking about marching to war, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the economy. We overcame that." Overcame that? And whose idea was it to march to war? Clinton's?
Everytime he brings up "March to War", we need to ask, "And why did we go to war? Where are those WMD? Your reckless drive to war cost us over 550 American deaths, over 3000 wounded and over 10,000 Iraqi deaths. And that doesn't add in the damage to our standing as an honorable nation and the billions of dollars your foray into empire has cost us."
(Sigh. That means we probably have to pay attention to his speeches. It should be an edifying experience.)