The Method of the Liar: Analyzing Drew Weston's Commentary on Obama
On the front page of CNN is a commentary by Drew Weston, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University, in which he gives advice to the Obama administration on how to fix the AIG debacle. While initially appearing to be a policy advisement for Obama, I am going to show how it is, in fact, a subtle message to Americans to set aside rationalism, thus making them easy victims for the next round of political deception. Republicans have their own tactics as well which I despise... like Muslims hate you because you are free LOL. This is not intended to be a partisan column. Take heart, Democratic voters. You are much more difficult to dupe than Republicans. Rather than flying a flag in your voice and scaring you, much more subtle tactics must be employed.
So let's begin. This is the opening line of the commentary:
In getting the nation's economy back on its feet and pursuing an agenda aimed at keeping it there for the next 40 years, the White House has to do two things at once: implement effective policies and keep the public behind the president long enough to keep implementing them until they work.
It would be truly amazing if one person, an elected representative no less that works outside of the competitive market, would be capable of making decisions that ensure economic growth for 40 years. Of course, that's nonsense. Central planning doesn't work. The only thing the Federal Government can do is start a race to the bottom. Please see the Economic Calculation Problem of the Socialist Commonwealth for more information. Bad start, Professor Weston. Also notice the sublte trick in the second part. If the policies don't work, it's not because they are bad policies. Nay! They are good policies - they must be! If they don't work it is because they weren't given enough time. Logic, be damned.
As the president learned in the stimulus debate, even the best policies don't sell themselves, especially when the other side is aggressively attacking them. President Obama's inspiration, Abraham Lincoln, noted that without public opinion behind you, good governance is impossible.
Actually, the best policies do sell themselves. That's how the market works. If the public had any faith in AIG, if the fundamentals were sound, and there was a return for risk, the public would buy shares in the company. The consumers are the vote in a market. According to Drew, it was wrong of the opposition to want to read a 1,100 page bill before signing it into law. Lincoln would have never allowed that! You're right. Lincoln would have started a civil war. Liberal professors love Lincoln. He was the benelovent dictator. Only such a man can save them from the evil, capitalist monsters.. like me. I'm so scary!
In this sense, the AIG debacle, in which the government has handed nearly $200 billion of taxpayers' money to one of the corporate Leviathans whose misadventures have cost many taxpayers their jobs, homes and savings, is both instructive and destructive.
The White House needs to be able to go back to the American people if the banks need another infusion of capital or the economy needs another stimulus -- both of which are high-probability events -- and the president needs public opinion at his back to enact his ambitious agenda on infrastructure, health care and education.
Here is the subtle trick. Do you see what he is doing here? It's the carrot and stick approach. Kind hearted liberals, don't you want universal health care and more money for education? I thought you were caring people. Well, then you going to have to give the bankers more money. There now, don't you feel better about all this nonsense?
I told you it was more difficult to trick a liberal than a conservative.
So aside from offering the kind of sweeping and long-needed regulatory reforms he proposed Wednesday (the policy side of the equation), what does President Obama need to do to prevent the AIG fiasco from eroding public confidence in what government can do in times like these?
A loaded statement if I ever saw one! It's assumed that more reforms are the answer. Why would you even question that, sheeple? So we brush it under the rug and then engage the liberal. What would make you feel better about all this? Republicans use the same trick. It's just assumed that Muslims want to wipe us off the face of the Earth. Never mind the policies that got us here. They're irrelevant. But what would make conservatives feel better about this?
So far, I gotta hand it to Drew Weston. He's much more subtle and polite in his methods of manipulation than Rush Limbaugh, though the intent is the same.
First, he needs to make sure, when a story like this one breaks, that he and his public surrogates are all on the same page. The president got it right with his cool public outrage and his order to his Treasury Secretary to look harder for ways to stop another round of public theft.
Again, it's assumed that the policies are right. No argument is necessary. All debate is finished. I'm reminded of the Spanish Inquisition. All knowledge was already learned, the scholastics said. So any debate is heresy. That worked out pretty well for everyone. More recently, remember how Ron Paul was attacked during the Republican primary for questioning the Iraq War?
We also see how deftly he draws criticism away from Obama, and puts it on his surrogates instead. Excellent word choice, Weston! They're not his appointees. They're his surrogates. They don't even belong to Obama. It's almost as if he had nothing to do with their positions of power! Brilliant. Never mind the contradiction that Obama was elected to provide leadership, rather than to be a representative of the people, it's not his fault. It's his surrogates.
Second, the White House needs to speak in plain language to the American people about what needs to be done, so it harnesses their legitimate anger and anxiety and continues to inspire their confidence and hope.
That's it Drew. Play on emotions. Well done.
That leads to the third point. The president needs to tell the American people the story, over and over, of how we got in this mess, who put us in it and what will and won't get us out of it. Franklin Roosevelt had no trouble pinning the nation's economic difficulties on the Republicans who had fiddled with free-market extremism as the nation's economy burned, and it took 40 years and the charisma of Ronald Reagan for anyone to put voice to that ideology again.
Bammmm!!!! Weston drops the hammer! Bravo, Weston. Bravo. You see, it's the ideology of the free market that is the problem. Hoover did nothing. Regan did nothing. They foolishly thought the market would work itself out. How quaint and silly! Anyone who believes that the free market can work must be dull headed and foolish. The people must be told over and over again: Free Markets Bad, Big Government Good. Eventually, they might even believe it.
Too bad for Mr. Weston there is this little thing called the Internet. I can look up the policies of Hoover and Reagan and clearly see that Weston is lying. Far from being hands off, Hoover dove right in and, just like his successors, made one mistake after another. It's called the pre-New Deal. Google it. As for Reagan, well if you can claim that quadrupling the federal deficit through debt financing is a hands off approach to the economy, I must ask if I can have some of what you're smoking. Yes, Republicans love Reagan. But like I said, just fly a flag in front of their face and they'll love you forever. Liberals, though, are a much tougher fish to hook.
Again, for those interested, here is a free PDF of Murray Rothbard's fantastic book America's Great Depression. You will find that Federal Reserve policy created the boom, led to the bust, and along with government intervention, prolonged the recession that turned into The Great Depression. Hoover's dirty fingerprints are all over it. Free marketeer, my ass!
The president needs to make clear where his policies -- and values -- depart from those of the previous administration if he wants people to hang onto their tenuous, newfound belief that maybe this time government is part of the solution and not the problem.
Good try, Professor Weston but it's clear that you are part of the problem as well.
(Yes, I realize I just offended 99% of the American electorate. Don't really care. If you can find anything factually wrong with anything I said, please share.)
David in Qatar