Archive for July, 2004

> Spin Bonanza from the Democratic Convention

Saturday, July 31st, 2004

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The Democratic National Convention scored a spinspeak high tide. But its greatest contribution to the spinmeister’s art was not its flood of corrupted and empty language designed to provide what it proudly called a Kerry “makeover”, but its introduction of truly advanced lookspin.

The Democratic spindocs didn’t invent graphicmagic, the adroit editing of film, statues and plaques to introduce heroes and delete newly designated villains. This form of lookspin dates back to the Romans. But for the first time millions of voters were treated to 30 year old reenactment films taken under the direction and by the hero himself after the fact.

There was young Lt. John Kerry striding through the jungle and the paddies as if he were on his way to doing daring deeds; there was deadly fire hitting the water; there was the swiftboat and the dangerous, black river: all smoothly packaged with horns and stirring strings and awed commentary.

Future possibilities boggle the mind. Possibly a TV cameraman could be assigned to every combat unit to take footage on request for politically ambitious officers and even non-coms. Or small digital cameras ingeniously fitted into the scopes of automatic weapons could eliminate the need for the cameramen and, thereby, cut help military budgets. In the future, no pol who ever put his foot in a combat zone would have to campaign in the future without a self-produced documentary.

Of course, lookspin can be a slippery slope as the Kerry troops discovered. When the balloon drop doesn’t work, shouting “We need more balloons. What the (expletive deleted) are you guys doing up there?” into an open cable network mike does not enhance the cause. Nor did the Kerry campaign request that a NASA photographer take shots of Kerry crawling around in a NASA “bunny suit” build presidential stature. Nor did the cuddly, surely vetted, strongly graphic anecdote from Kerry’s daughter about Kerry saving the life of her drowning hamster by giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

In such cases, the lookspin magicians can only pray that, as Sen. Edwards is wont to say, “hope is on the way.”

>Plausible Deniability: Corporate Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

Friday, July 16th, 2004

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The indictment of former Enron CEO Ken Lay in the landmark Enron Scandal brings to the test the corporate plea: I didn’ know ‘nuttin.

The corporate spin phrase for this approach is “plausible deniability” or “the view from 30,000 feet.”

Essentially, Lay’s defense is that he had no idea that the bad guys down the hall were cooking the books. As far as he knew, everything was okey-dokey. Calling his chief financial officer a “liar and a thief,” Lay offered the following Clintonian self-exculpation: to the extent that I did not know what he was doing … then indeed, I cannot take responsibility.”