Politics and Public Opinion

Do Republicans Have a Talking-point Time Machine?

Democrats are attacking Republicans’ “permanent-bailout” and “too big to fail” messaging on financial regulatory reform as siding with Wall Street lobbyists (or Enron consultants, in the case of Larry Lindsey) and Frank Luntz talking-points memos (Politico’s coverage here). Could there be a more blatant straw-man attack on the intellectual underpinnings of Republican opposition? Consider Senator Chris Dodd’s April 14, 2010, floor speech blasting Republicans for ripping “talking points” from a Frank Luntz memo issued in January:

No matter what is proposed, no matter what is in the bill, no matter what protections it includes, call it a bailout. It is a naked political strategy. If it succeeds and this legislation goes down, and another crisis sinks the American economy, then the next recession and all of the damage it will bring to the working families of this country will have happened for the sake of that false talking point that Mr. Luntz has been proposing. I don’t expect Frank Luntz to care about the truth of what we are engaged in here. That is not his job. He is a political strategist. He is to provide political talking points to people when you want to defeat something. I don’t expect the bank lobbyists and special interests to care about the truth; they don’t seem to worry about that. But the American people deserve better from us in this Chamber. —Congressional Record, April 14, 2010

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