Romney campaign struggles to adopt Obama's propaganda techniquesby Skip Roper
Aug. 20, 2012, Washington, DC — The Romney campaign is trying to adopt the same propaganda techniques that have been employed effectively by President Obama since 2008, but team members are having difficulty because they are encumbered by outdated religious concepts.
That's the conclusion of Maughan Strauss, formerly Obama's chief propaganda czar and currently public relations director of the League of Information Experts (LIE).
"The Romney campaign hired us to improve their use of the tactics that allowed the president's reelection team to win the Saul Alinsky Silver Serpent Award," Strauss said. "We give the Romney people lots of good advice, but they keep ignoring it at their peril.
"I believe Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are too encumbered by outdated religious concepts to compete in the modern political sphere. Both men display an obsessive need to comply with The Ten Commandments and seem to be unduly restrained by their consciences."
Strauss said GOP leaders have been unable to employ even the simplest propaganda tool, the so-called straw man argument. The technique consists of attributing a false and patently ridiculous claim to an opponent and then knocking over that argument, which is as easy as a man made of straw can be toppled.
"President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are so good at this technique that most people don't even notice it," he said.
He pointed out that Biden was criticized more for his "y'all be back in chains" comment than by the lie that preceded it, which was that Romney said he "is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules."
Strauss said uninformed voters often accept straw man statements because they are unfamiliar with candidates or their positions.
"When I asked the Romney people to think of a lie they could say about Obama, they told me the public won't believe the truth and would be even less likely to believe a lie," he said.
Dr. Knotts E. Lover, a Harvard University professor who teaches a course in political propaganda, said Republicans are so unskilled in basic propaganda that they "can't seem to comprehend the power of citing quotes out of context and misusing statistics, let alone creating false facts."
"They should follow the lead of President Obama, who is supremely skilled at using false data to make a point," he said. "For example, he often says that virtually every competent economist believes in his economic policies."
Lover said the public willingly accepts falsehoods if repeated often enough.
"Look at the global warming issue," he said. "Democrats have been saying that there is scientific consensus that global warming is a crisis created by humans for so long that it has been accepted as fact. Yet there is no such consensus. The public has been brainwashed into believing that skeptics of global warming are as clueless as people who still believe the earth is flat."
Propaganda expert Dr. Sheeza Flake of the University of Michigan said the Romney team should learn to emulate their Democrat counterparts in the use of bigotry in political attacks.
"Democrats love to use bigotry to criticize Republicans," she said. "Bigotry is defined as judging all members of a group by the actions or statements of a single member. Notice how quickly President Obama portrayed all Republicans as woman-hating imbeciles because of GOP Senate candidate Todd Adkin's remarks on rape even though every major Republican criticized him."
Linguist Mel A. Nomah, who gained viral YouTube fame for cussing at his oncologist, was hired last month by the Republican National Committee to incorporate ad hominem attacks against Democrat nominees. He said most of his clients have resisted his suggestions, particularly the Mormon and Catholic members of Team Romney, many of whom are unaccustomed to using cuss words.
"I just can't get them to call female liberals by the c word, the b word, the l word, the s word or any other sexually suggestive word," he said, "even though they know Democrat supporters have used those same terms to describe Republicans, such as Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Condolleeza Rice.
"There are some Republican candidates who don't mind using colorful language, but they are reluctant to call Democrats names, even male Democrats, because they say the mainstream media would not tolerate it."
Dr. Parrah Noyd, who wrote a book on logical fallacies, has been familiarizing Romney and Ryan with common argumentative techniques, such as the red herring, commonly employed by Democrats on talk shows, ignoring the question, equivocation, non sequiturs and circular logic.
"Compared with my Democrat clients, these two guys have a long ways to go," she said. "They seem to think that they can win an argument with logic, history and facts. They just can't accept the fact that the truth nowadays is whatever anyone wants to believe, not what is actually true.
"But I'm seeing some hopeful signs of change. For example, when Mitt was asked on national TV the other day why he didn't want to release 10 years of tax returns, he threw out a red herring by asking why Obama won't release his college papers.
"He's even getting better at ignoring questions. I asked for a raise yesterday, and he acted as though he didn't hear me. By the time of the presidential debates, I think he'll have a chance."