Wednesday, July 27, 2005

PR, presidential style

It shouldn’t be called “politics” anymore.

No, it should be called “public relationics” – and everyone seems to be catching on.

The president and his staff just recently renamed the “War on Terror” to “A Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.” The New York Times called it a “retooling” of the slogan our president hopes to use to better manage and define what America is up against.

There’s this card game – perhaps you’ve heard of it – called “bullshit.” This reminds me a lot of that.

An Orwellian renaming of our “war” against extremists just points out the weight those in politics are giving public relations. Everything can be made into an opportunity to make headlines, and often Bushie and crew don’t even have to work hard to do it. See above.

Public policy has to be sold to the American public via “slogans” and photo-ops, and giving credit to a plain ol’ good idea or rational directive no longer carries any heft. You know what else helps? Holding events where you place red, white, and black Americans up on stage with you, giving the appearance of unity and support to a cause that most Americans can’t stomach.

This stuff is good PR. Working as a public relations man myself, I have to give credit where credit is due. When you post on your website highlighting the new “free-trade” agreement CAFTA-DR (Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement) to convince us the deal “will increase U.S. exports to the region and bring new prosperity to citizens of our hemisphere who have not known it,” – and not mention how it could possibly close down a few more manufacturing plants in Ohio or Michigan – is brilliant work.

Whoever does the president’s PR deserves a raise. Barring any tax cuts, of course.

On the terrorism slogan renaming, National Security Adviser Steven Hadley told the Times, "It is more than just a military war on terror. It's broader than that. It's a global struggle against extremism. We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative." This is classic PR posturing. “Positive Alternative.” “Global Struggle.” Why not just call the damn thing “The Big Hope that Mutants Will Not Blow Themselves Up on Chicago’s El-Train and Cost Us An Election, and while We Feel Sorry for those Brits, we think our Summer Camp over in Iraq is Doing the World a Big Fat American Favor, because it’s Hard Work.”

Bush should hire me – I could write all his slogans for half price. I could even go pro-bono, for a chance to make out fiercely with his drunken daughter. The cute one. Not the one that looks like him.

And the best part? There are people out there that deep-throat this stuff at face value. Don’t even question that a National Guard drop-out can land a plane on an aircraft carrier, declare “Mission Accomplished,” and wink and shake hands. Don’t even fathom how closely this thing mimics a USSR May Day parade. Bush is humping the military image for all it’s worth.

It makes me hopeful that someday I can grow up and be a presidential PR man. Why not? Benefits, good pay, have my good-ol’-boy printed on every headline in the country for doing not a damn thing. I’ll betcha I wouldn’t even have to work that hard.

Up next: Bush saves a sack of kittens from a drowning river, blames “extremist” vets

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