Check this out: the Occupy movement is changing the way that GOP strategists are telling people to talk about the protest phenomenon. Or more accurately, not talk about it.
At Yahoo, Chris Moody captures a series of talking/not-talking points dispensed by Frank Luntz at a Republican governors' gathering in Florida. Here are my two favorites (there are 10 total, plus a bonus, which agues that "bonuses" shouldn't be called that):
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."
8. Out: 'Entrepreneur.' In: 'Job creator.'
Use the phrases "small business owners" and "job creators" instead of "entrepreneurs" and "innovators."
Luntz, according to Moody, says, "I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death....They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."
I'll say! So much so that Luntz, in his trembling fright, is counseling Republicans to "remove" the word capitalism from their vocabularies. This is earth-shaking. Even though the GOP has embraced the somewhat complex notion of "free markets," the backbone of their economic Pledge of Allegiance is...capitalism! The greatest thing enlightened society has ever invented! The force that makes the sun rise in the morning and... Well, you get the idea.
The obviously issue is that there's Capitalism! and there's CAPITALISM!!!, the latter being the turbocharged, hyperactive version that defines modern Wall Street and that, in its excess, gave us the financial crisis. I wouldn't say that Occupy has necessarily succeeded entirely in making people think "Wall Street" automatically when they think "capitalism," but clearly the advisory class is concerned.
The job-creator-versus-entrepreneur thing is tricker. I'm wondering if this is way for the GOP to angle toward Main Street, rather than connecting itself with some kind of highfalutin innovation class, headquartered among the American coastal elites.
Of course, it could just be that entrepreneurship and innovation — which are as American as capitalism — are just too vague. Additionally, one could make the argument that if tax cuts go to these folks, they'll just blow the money on outrageous Internet ventures and the like.
Small businesses, on the other hand, seem more folksy. They create real jobs for real Americans.
I'm not sure if this point is all that red-state-blue-state in its formulation. But that could be where Luntz is coming from.
But wow! The GOP is scared to talk about capitalism. That's stop-the-presses stuff.
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