The good news? Frank Luntz is very afraid of Occupy Wall Street. I'd say that's a huge accomplishment, given how much air time has been spent claiming they have no messaging. The bad news? He's ready to teach Republicans how to rewrite that message to their advantage.
Luntz' talking points are widely adopted by media, politicians and AstroTurf groups almost as soon as they're written. Consider his 2005 immigration memo (PDF), framing the entire issue and demonizing immigrants as a scourge and drain on the country. Or his 2009 memo (PDF) characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a "government takeover of health care."
I assure you we will hear these talking points on Fox News and CNBC immediately. So here are some of the top points. Read the entire list at Yahoo! News.
1. Don't say 'capitalism.'"I'm trying to get that word removed and we're replacing it with either 'economic freedom' or 'free market,' " Luntz said. "The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we're seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we've got a problem."
2. Don't say that the government 'taxes the rich.' Instead, tell them that the government 'takes from the rich.'"If you talk about raising taxes on the rich," the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But "if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no.Taxing, the public will say yes."
4. Don't talk about 'jobs.' Talk about 'careers.'"Everyone in this room talks about 'jobs,'" Luntz said. "Watch this."He then asked everyone to raise their hand if they want a "job." Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a "career." Almost every hand was raised."So why are we talking about jobs?"
6. Don't ever say you're willing to 'compromise.'"If you talk about 'compromise,' they'll say you're selling out. Your side doesn't want you to 'compromise.' What you use in that to replace it with is 'cooperation.' It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you're selling out those principles."
7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: 'I get it.'"First off, here are three words for you all: 'I get it.' . . . 'I get that you're angry. I get that you've seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system."
That last one sounds really condescending to me, like a little pat on the head or something. I don't know, maybe it's me, but telling a student facing huge tuition increases while they owe thousands in student loans already "I get it" will likely not earn any points for empathy, particularly from those defending the 1 percent.
The Occupy movement has the momentum. Their message resonates because it's true. Frank Luntz can try to rewrite a job search into a career search, but tell that to someone who can't even get a job at Walmart for minimum wage and they'll laugh. At the same time, our corporate media will take these very, very seriously and attempt to use them to marginalize and even demonize the Occupy participants.