Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Even Republican Pollsters Occasionally
Say Things That Have the Ring of Truth

'You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and pre-existing beliefs. It's not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener's shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in the practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.'

--Pollster Frank Luntz, who's famous for teaching Republicans how to use phrases such as "death tax" (otherwise known as the estate tax) to skew political debate, from his new book, Words that Work--It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear.


At 3:22 PM, Blogger Christopher Alvarado said...

Were you also watching last night's Frontline rebroadcast? I find that particular section with Luntz to be utterly unsettling.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Chris, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I did indeed see that segment, and found it as illuminating as I generally find most Frontline programs. I had come across this book of his a little while ago, but after seeing the program last night thought it was the right time to use it. As the show revealed, Luntz is the most dangerous kind of pr flim-flam man, a guy who teaches clients how to use language to hide meaning and evade responsibility.

He first came to wide attention with his key role in helping Newt Gingrich craft the Contract With America language, which the Republicans used to win control of the House in 1994. They proved over the next decade that they didn't believe a word of Luntz's finely honed verbiage. It was just an elaborate, high-concept smokescreen, as is all of his other work.


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