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September 28, 2008

Dear Henry: Frame or Be Framed

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With nothing better to do on a Saturday night, I was browsing through this blog's archives, and I came upon this posting: "Frame or Be Framed." It examines the work of U.C. Berkeley professor George Lakoff--specifically, how Republicans are good framers and Democrats are lousy ones. It seems to me that the "bailout" of the investment banks shows that the framing skill of Republicans has atrophied.

I don't know much about Wall Street finance and monetary policy, but when has ignorance ever stopped a blogger--or a politician? If I were (a) a Republican and (b) vice-president of marketing of the Department of the Treasury (getting struck by lightning while sitting on the bottom of a swimming pool is more likely than either of these conditions), here's how I would have framed what's become the mother of all financial debacles:

  • Greedy investment banks that came to power during the Clinton administration mortgaged their futures (no pun intended) by duping hardworking Americans into buying houses that they couldn't afford.

  • Now these hardworking Americans can't make their payments, and they're losing their homes. There's not much we can do about this because the Republican party stands for minimal government intervention.

  • However, we are Republicans, and if there's anything Republicans understand, it's how to make money. In this case, we're going to make money for the American people because this is the best opportunity to buy real estate in the last one hundred years. If the American people don't make the money, somebody else will.

  • We only need $1 trillion to buy these properties off the hands of these greedy investment banks. When the real-estate market returns, and you know it will return because by golly this is America, we will sell the real estate back to those banks and quadruple our investment. Then we'll take that $4 trillion in profit and plow it into new sources of clean energy. With $4 trillion we can provide every homeowner from Los Angeles to Miami with free solar panels and have $3 trillion left over.

  • To make this plan work, though, we need the $1 trillion and your support at the polls in November. This is a five- to ten-year plan, and we need to run the White House in order to ensure that it happens. A vote for the McCain-Palin ticket is a vote for a clean, green future.

You have to admit that this beats the hell out of the "bailout of rich, white guys on Wall Street" frame. "Buyout," not "bailout:" at least this way, it appears that we might get something for our $1 trillion. With a little lipstick and $1 trillion of botox, even a pig can fly.

But what if you're Barak Obama? Then the spin is, "This is a potential crisis for the American people. At these times, I call upon leaders of both parties to put aside their political differences to do what's right for the American people. We can work together to fix what one party caused. Then elect me in order to ensure that this never happens again and to turn a 'bailout' into an oppportunity to fund our energy independence. After all, $1 trillion isn't loose change."

Whether it's business or politics (or the politics of business or the business of politics), it all comes down to marketing.


For news coverage by much smarter people than me, check out Politics.alltop and Oped.alltop.

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