Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Death Tax on Failing Schools/Bad Teachers and TrumpCare - The Wordsmith - The New York Times

The Wordsmith - The New York Times:

The Death Tax on Failing Schools/Bad Teachers  and TrumpCare - The Wordsmith 

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Big Education Ape: Media Consensus on ‘Failing Schools’ Paved Way for DeVos | By Molly Knefel | Common Dreams -

Your new 28-page memo, “The Language of Health Care,” was sent to Republicans in Congress and recommends that they speak about health care reform in ominous phrases. For instance, you suggest that they refer to “a Washington takeover.”
“Takeover” is a word that grabs attention.
Is it a correct description of the president’s plans for reform? 
 We don’t know what he is proposing. We want to avoid “a Washington takeover.”
But that’s not at issue. What the Democrats want is for everyone to be able to choose between their old, private health-insurance plan and an all-new, public health-insurance option. 
 I’m not a policy person. I’m a language person.
If you write the words of the policy, shouldn’t you believe in the content of the policy? 
 That’s why I agreed to write this memo. I deeply believe in patient-centered health care. My whole family was in the dental profession. I grew up with medicine all around me.
Would you describe yourself as a Republican pollster? 
 I’m a pollster, but no one ever cites my polling. Ninety-five percent of my work is as a communications specialist. My mother used to tell people that I was an upholsterer. She would joke that she didn’t understand the difference between pollster and an upholsterer.
Who paid you to write the health care memo? 
 It’s not relevant.
A pharmaceutical company? 
 No pharmaceutical company was involved.
You have devised many phrases to help sell Republican policies to the public. Like “energy exploration” instead of “drilling for oil” in the Arctic. What are some of your other coinages? 
 It’s “death tax” instead of “estate tax” or “inheritance tax.” It’s “opportunity scholarships” instead of “vouchers.” It’s “electronic intercepts” rather than “eavesdropping.”


CreditBrad Jones for The New York Times

That’s a lot of e’s. 
 Words that begin with b, p or t are words to express anger. I call them spitting words. You actually spit on people as you are saying them.
What if I call someone a bunny? That’s not angry. 
 If I wanted to demonize a bunny, I would use a word like rabbit. The rabbit will ravage your garden. This is a language pivot. A bunny is cute; a rabbit that ravages your garden is a pest.
What do you think of Dick Cheney’s new identity as a TV regular? 
 My issue with Cheney is that he was at one time a great communicator. But when he was asked the question “Over 70 percent of Americans disagree with this war, what is your response?” do you remember what his reaction was?
He said, “So what?” 
 Even worse than that. “So.” So! One-word answer, one syllable, two letters. To the American people it was a slap in the face.
When is your next book coming out? 
In September. It’s called “What Americans Really Want … Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams and Fears.”
It’s better without the subtitle, which detracts from the wit of the two “really” ’s. 
Well, I wrote “Words That Work,” and the subtitle is “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” and that is the most important single line I have ever written.
Where did you grow up? 
 Who cares?
Are you married? 
 No. I may have perfected the language that gets people to vote certain ways, and buy certain products, but I haven’t perfected the language to get some woman to buy me.
It might help if you didn’t speak about yourself, not to mention health care, as a product to be bought and sold. 
 It’s a throwaway line, that’s all. In politics it’s called a pivot. It’s a pivot to a topic I am more interested in. Not all words have equal meaning.interview conducted, condensed and edited byDeborah Solomon

 The Wordsmith - The New York Times: