03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How Alan Grayson and Michael Moore Changed the Conversation

It's not the answer that matters, it's the question. So when Alan Grayson suggested that the Republican's health care plan was for people to die quickly, he began a conversation that the Democratic Party couldn't lose and the Republicans couldn't win. Because then the question being debated was: Do Republicans want people to die quickly?

For the whole summer, the Republicans had managed to shift the debate from "should we reform the health care system in this country?" to "is the Democratic plan to reform health care a government takeover?" So, instead of the onus being on the health care industry and their Republican lovers to prove that we should maintain the status quo, the onus shifted to Democrats to prove that their plan was perfect.

This is an old trick of lobbyists (really well demonstrated in Thank You For Smoking). You change the conversation to a battle you can win. So, Rep. Grayson used their methods against them. And now the conversation we're having is whether the health care system is acceptable or if it leads to killing people for profit. Mission accomplished.

Michael Moore is doing the same in his move Capitalism. First, he is changing the conversation on who caused the financial collapse in the first place. Most people are acutely aware that it was the bankers, but not the Fox News audience. So, when he went on Sean Hannity's show the other night, he introduced that idea to them and then Hannity was stuck in the position of defending the bankers and blatantly blaming the victims and the poor. Instead of discussing how government was at fault, Moore started a conversation on how deregulation might have led to this mess.

But more importantly, he started a battle for the heart and soul of Christianity. He proposed in the movie and in his debate with Hannity that being on the side of the rapacious rich is un-Christian. He claimed his position is the more Christian position. For so long, the Republicans have simply claimed that they are more Christian without anything to back them up. They just shouted louder. Now, Moore is shouting just as loud.

By putting them on the defensive on how they are not good Christians if they help the rich crush the poor, he has once again changed the conversation. Are the Republicans bad Christians? It doesn't matter what the answer is, that's a question you can't lose with.

What the conservative movement has understood for a long time is sometimes it takes something a little inflammatory to change the conversation. You have to draw attention to you, so people can start discussing the topic you want.

This was perfectly demonstrated by the wild and angry town hall crowds. They were sometimes saying hideous things about Obama but they succeeded in shifting the burden of proof on to the Democrats. Now, it looks like we have a couple of guys that know how to play this game. And they have succeeded in shifting the focus back to where it should be. It's refreshing to have people who know what they're doing on your side.

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