Janesville71°

Word wars in the GOP

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Rick Horowitz
October 23, 2007

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…imagine their surprise when the poodle stepped off the bus! Jake?”


“A dramatic rescue, indeed! Thanks, Kristen. Well, those California fires aren’t the only things heating up lately…so has the rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail. Stu is here with a look behind some of those inflammatory words. Stu?”


“Thanks, Jake. I’m joined by two veteran observers of the political wars, but with very different roles in the process. Juanita Rimshot is the deputy curator of the Smithsonian Soundbite Collection here in Washington. Welcome to NewsNose.”


“Nice to be here.”


“And joining us from Arlington, Alf Parry, who’s a senior partner at the campaign consulting firm Thrust & Parry.”


“Thanks for having me.”


“Our pleasure…thanks for coming on. So let me start with you, Juanita: Is it just my imagination, or has the candidates’ language in this presidential campaign—especially on the Republican side—taken a sudden jump on the rhetorical Richter scale?”


“Very definitely, Jake, and you’ve seen it even over the past few days, with the Republican presidential contenders going after not just Hillary Clinton, which they’ve been doing for months, but one another, too. They’re targeting each other’s records, their integrity, their leadership skills…”


“Which of them is the ‘true’ conservative? That kind of thing?”


“Exactly. That one, which I believe Gov. Romney was…”


“Former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.”


“That’s right. Mitt Romney was the first one to stake his claim to being the ‘true’ conservative in the race, while the others—according to Romney, at least—were not ‘true’ conservatives. He hit a nerve.”


“He really did, Alf, didn’t he?”


“Absolutely. With the Republican base so crucial in choosing our nominee, none of those guys wanted to be painted as anything less than ‘true’ conservatives themselves.”


“So they fired back—with your help, I should mention.”


“Well, at Thrust & Parry, we’ve had a long association with several of these folks, so when they find themselves in need of a one-liner, or a particularly snappy comeback on some issue…”


Something that’ll make the evening news.”


“Or Jon Stewart. That’s certainly the goal, yes.” “I’m sorry…go ahead.”


“When these candidates need a one-liner or a snappy comeback, they’ll often turn to us.”


“And you deliver?”


“Does a hen deliver eggs?”


“I see what you mean…that’s pretty clever!”


“Well, we’ve got a dozen very sharp young staffers who are on call 24/7, and they’re constantly working on the perfect lines for any situation, offense or defense.”


“You have to be ready with both kinds these days, don’t you, Juanita?”


“You certainly do. Between cell phones with video capability everywhere, on the one hand, and YouTube as such a prominent distribution medium, there’s really no time when a presidential candidate can afford to let down his guard. He certainly can’t afford to come across as defenseless. The kind of work Mr. Parry and his colleagues do helps fill that gap.”


“But…”


“Plus it gives us a lot more material to collect.”


“I’m sure it does! And Alf, the 11th Commandment? How does all this nastiness square with that old Ronald Reagan line—‘Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican’?”


“Well, let’s just say there’s now a 12th Commandment, too.”


“Which says…?”


“‘Thou shalt do whatever it takes.’”


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