Monday, December 11, 2006

Spin Speak 

I missed this earlier, but it is a good example of "staying on message" run amok. Washington is filled with "Spin Speak." Each side tries to bend perception in its direction by chanting acceptable phrases in speeches, releases, interviews, etc. It's part of the reason why ordinary folk view politicians negatively. Pols are always trying to sell something. After a time, one grows weary trying to figure out the difference between facts and twist.

There is a place for "staying on message," but like any other technique in rhetoric, it can go too far. It is better to allow some diversity in language because in the shifting of concept, there is a note of authenticity. Yes, it takes longer for citizens to hear a message. Yes, it can confuse an issue. But, a politician no longer sounds like an unthinking robot with 35 embedded phrases.

There is deep fear in Washington over uncontrolled language. Politicians' handlers would rather candidates never say anything that has not been written down and vetted against focus groups. They warn of disasters that can happen when a politician is caught in even one unguarded moment. However, it is in unguarded moments that one says what is really on one's mind, and this is precisely what citizens look for. They want to know the real person behind the protective shell. So do opponents.

Political handlers want packaged products with a shiny surface: They care little about what the contents of the package hold. In that regard, they are the opposite of public relations. However, political spinmeisters hold power in the PR business. They have become leads in agencies and heads of corporate communications. It is one reason why PR has degenerated as a concept.


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