That the town hall meetings of August were something less than spontaneous should surprise no one. Whether for health care or any other issue, it’s hard to generate crowds in the dog days of summer without some organization.
But Rolling Stone magazine says it has come across a May memo in which pollster Frank Luntz outlined the Republican approach to the Democratic initiative. In essence, the Luntz memo became a script for the GOP and town hall organizers, briefing them not just on what to say, but how to say it.
The logic of the language is simple, Luntz writes: “Takeovers are like coups — they both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.” For a third of all Americans, he adds, the top worry about health care reform is “being denied a procedure or medication because a Washington bureaucrat says no.” Luntz concludes by telling Republicans how best to play the fear card. “It is essential that ‘deny’ and ‘denial’ enter the conservative lexicon immediately,” he writes, “because it is at the core of what scares Americans most about a government takeover of health care.”
Distributed widely to Republicans on Capitol Hill, the memo framed the right-wing attack on health care reform. What Luntz describes as “the best anti-Democrat message” is by now familiar to everyone in America: “No Washington bureaucrat should stand between your family and your doctor… The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of your health care.”
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