BUSH USED PRESS CONFERENCE TO FORCE PR BUZZWORDS INTO THE DEBATE
In a scripted moment of imperial bravado, President Bush held a press conference yesterday to address the scandal over his Attorney General having lied to Congress. Why this sudden move? In a word: framing.
Even more frightening to the Bush administration than being caught putting loyalty to leader above following the law, the Gonzales scandal has lured off the White House PR ranch and into a frame about administration corruption and deceit.
And so, as is par for this President's course whenever the White House is faced with a crisis, the goal of Bush's press appearance was not to inform the American public of any facts, but to force the White House's carefully scripted keywords into the debate--with the hope that journalists and Democrats would repeat them.
So, they sent in the PR keyword "repeaterer" to get the job done.
The following is a list of the 5 keywords dropped by Bush, yesterday--keywords that Americans should repeat only if they want to help President Bush deceive the American public by luring the debate away from the important issue of honesty in government:
In the very first sentence of his press conference, President Bush said the following:
THE PRESIDENT: Earlier today, my staff met with congressional leaders about
the resignations of U.S. attorneys.
Since the key to framing a debate is naming the subject being discussed, the top priority of the White House, yesterday, was to redirect the whole discussion of Attorney General Gonzales with one, big word: resignations.
President Bush repeated "resignation" 4 conspicuous times in his 12-minute appearance, yesterday, including the coveted opening line of the entire event. So important is this word to the White House that they even used it in the title they gave the press conference on their website ("President Bush Addresses Resignations of U.S. Attorneys").
A simple Google search reveals, however, that "firing" has and continues to be the keyword used to describe what the Bush administration did to their Federal Attorneys. By attempting to swap the word "firing" for the word "resignation," President Bush is trying to force the debate onto more neutral grounds. The word "resignation" relieves Gonzales of any responsibility for having forced the Federal Attorney's out of their jobs--putting in its place the less problematic bureaucratic error of errors in explanation.
Instead of repeating the word "resignation," as President Bush would have us do--Americans should stay focused on the term "firing" (or variations on that) to describes what actually happened: action taken by Gonzales to remove Federal Attorneys disloyal to Bush--actions subsequently denied by Gonzales under oath.
In the second paragraph of his press statement, yesterday, President Bush said the following:
The Justice Department, with the approval of the White House, believed
new leadership in these positions would better serve our country.
The keyword "leadership" was used by President Bush, in this instance, to shift the focus of the debate away from the actual reason the Federal Attorneys were fired: because they were not "loyal Bushies."
Working with the White House political team, Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department fired Federal Attorney's not to put in their place better "leadership," but to put in their place better "followership"--to effectively turn the Federal Attorney system into a wing of the government that was 100% loyal to the political wing of the White House.
Instead of repeating the word "leadership," as President Bush would have us do--Americans should stay focused on the term "loyalty" to describe what actually happened: action taken by Gonzales to remove federal attorneys disloyal to Bush--actions subsequently denied by Gonzales under oath.
"Explaination" and "Incomplete"
In the next sentence of his opening statement, yesterday, President Bush said the following:
The announcement of this decision and the subsequent explanation of these
changes has been confusing and, in some cases, incomplete.
The keywords "explanation" and "incomplete" were used by President Bush, in this instance, to shift the focus of the debate away from the actual act committed by Alberto Gonzales: lying to Congress under oath.
Shifting the debate from one of willful deceit or "lying" on the part of Gonzales to one of an "explanation" that was accidentally confusing and "incomplete" is another attempt by Bush to make the discussion neutral--to eliminate any aspect of guilt for intentionally deceitful and potentially criminal activity on the part of the Attorney General of the United States.
Instead of repeating the words "explanation" and "incomplete," as President Bush would have us do--Americans should stay focused on the terms "deceit" and "lying" to describe what actually happened: action taken by Gonzales to remove federal attorneys disloyal to Bush--actions subsequently denied by Gonzales under oath.
Roughly a minute into his press conference, yesterday, President Bush said the following:
These extraordinary steps offered today to the majority in Congress demonstrate a reasonable solution to the issue. However, we will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.
In this passage, President Bush uses the word "fishing" to belittle the attempt by the U.S. Congress to ascertain truthful information in the face of deceitful testimony from his administration. Given that the scandal is about the Attorney General giving false testimony under oath, it is more than reasonable for Congress to reject President Bush's offer to interview the advisers implicated by this scandal not under oath. Since the goal is to find the truth that was obscured in a previous official testimony, any implication that finding the truth is "partisan" or is little more than an aggressive attempt by President Bush to attack his attackers as a way of creating political cover for himself.
Instead of repeating the words "fishing," as President Bush would have us do--Americans should stay focused on the terms "truth" to describe what actually happened: action taken by Gonzales to remove federal attorneys disloyal to Bush--actions subsequently denied by Gonzales under oath.
Do Not Repeat His Words
Americans of every political persuasion should show their respect for the office of the President by listening when the executive speaks, but we should be very mindful of how the Bush administration takes advantage of that respect to change the very terms of the debate.
In this case, President Bush used 5 keywords, yesterday, that were strategically repeated with the goal of shifting the debate over the firing of Federal Attorneys by Alberto Gonzales away from talk of willful deceit of Congress and loyalty over law, to a more benign discussion of "resignations" and "incomplete" "explanations." Moreover, President Bush tried to force the word "fishing" into the debate, to convince the public that Congress' attempt to restore honesty and integrity to government is simply a partisan attack.
The President has every right that comes with his office to speak to the American public. But unless we want to help President Bush to hide the truth in a smokescreen of PR tactics, it is our responsibility not to repeat the keywords he tried to force into the debate in his press appearance, yesterday.
(cross posted from Frameshop
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