Politicians, consultants, spinners and pundits sometimes must resort to talking points that are less than effective. Bluntly, they don’t pass the straight face test yet no one inside the bubble of true believers and advisers has the nerve to say so. We, therefore, offer the following as counsel. Phrases and arguments to avoid:
“We need conservative leadership.” There are plenty of conservatives and plenty of leaders, what they lack however is numbers. In this regard President Obama was correct: Go win some elections. In fact, much to the chagrin of far right groups, the speaker of the House exercised some leadership, telling them to leave the governing to the grown ups.
“Republican opposition to Obamacare caused …” It actually caused nothing. Obamacare is a scheme drafted by Democrats and implemented by Democrats. An observer or critic of a debacle is not responsible for it. Nice try, Dems, but please. No one buys this.
“Just don’t blink.” Need we say more?
“The international community …” Actually the international community is a fiction, a fantasy that countries like Russia and North Korea and Pakistan and France share common values and interests and look out for one another.
“We were outspent in the campaign.” This is the loser’s evergreen lament. First, beyond a point money matters less and less. Moreover, failure to raise money suggests a lack of enthusiasm or poor campaign operation or both. It is a symptom not a cause of a losing campaign.
“The rich have to pay their fair share.” The rich shoulder a whole lot of the tax load. Some might not think it is too great a burden to require that “the 1.35 million taxpayers that represent the highest-earning one percent of the Americans who filed federal income tax returns in 2010 earned 18.9% of the total gross income and paid 37.4% of all federal income taxes paid in that year.” Really, how fair is it that “the 128.3 million taxpayers in the bottom 95% of all U.S. taxpayers in 2010 earned 66.2% of gross income and that group paid 40.9% of all taxes paid”? The favorite “fair share” catch phrase implies the really rich are getting away with murder and ignores the substantive argument about how much progressivity we should have in the tax code.
“We’ve ended two wars.” (Or “A decade of war is ending.”) The relatives and loved ones of the 100,000 dead in Syria beg to differ, as do the millions of refugees. President Obama retrenches; he doesn’t end wars. The wars rage on, as in Syria, with only the backing of nefarious groups. For democracy promoters these are dark days. We have gained neither peace nor stability in the Middle East.