Frank Luntz, advocate of Orwellian language

I saw an interview with him where he claimed to have invented it. He may not have. The first time I saw “Frank Luntz” was in the index of Al Franken’s Rush Limbaugh book. His index entry said, “Likelihood that he will go straight here and see if his name is mentioned. 58

Actually, this is not what I consider to be the point of the thread, but if you do, more power to you. This is me, being nicer to folks on the Internet :).


That’s how.

To me, it actually evokes what happens the morning after you take a strong laxative.

We should open a book to take bets on how long you can keep it up. :wink:

Okay, but keep in mind I said “nicer,” not “nice”; I’m afraid I’ve established a pretty low baseline in the past.


I had to turn this interview off because Terry was so woefully underprepared. He asked “what event triggers the tax?” and her (obvious) retort should have been “the creation of any inheritance greater than $2M.” Instead she waffled and let him score easy points on rhetoric. He also easily dodged answering her question asking whether “exploration” and “extraction” of oil are or are not two entirely different processes – she could have pinned him down on answering the point, but he turned it into a debate about how she phrased her questions, and refused to answer.

She’s the interviewer, and if she’s going to interview someone who’s slippery with words then she needs to come prepared for some slippery answers. I love her softball interviews with interesting personalities, but if she wants to do something this adversarial, she needs to bring her varsity game.

“Precision” is not a synonym for “accuracy.” If he were just sowing confusion, that would be both imprecise and inaccurate. However, he’s trying to sway people to reach specific conclusions, which technically would demonstrate precision even if the conclusions themselves aren’t accurate.

I’m glad someone else started this thread. I heard the bit about Orwell and realized, “Oh my God. He just Orwelled Orwell.” At that point my head aploded and I had to pull over to the side of the road until new one grew in.

Here’s the link to the interview.

McBane: On a big bed surrounded by beautiful women.

Like, for instance, a “Clear Skies Act” which allows increased pollution, or a “Healthy Forests Act” which allows more logging? If they did things like that, then would that be Orwellian?

The answer actually begins “On top of a pile of money…”

Who does: “Under a blanket made of hundred dollar bills, on a waterbed filled with the blood of innocents?” Is that Burns? Or Karl Rove?
I get those two mixed up…

I reckon that, as the OP, you’re entitled to consider the point of the thread to be anything from who shot Mr. Burns to how to peel a tomato. Hopefully, you can understand how some people might have taken it to be something about Luntz’s role in Republican language choice.

Perhaps sufficient practice will make perfect.

The point is that he’s explicitly advocating the use of Orwellian language, Liberal. It’s not that he’s using it. Or that he thinks it’s defensible for his cause. It’s that he’s saying that it’s a good thing. That’s what’s being pitted. Which you would know if you had even read the title of the thread before jerking your knee.

Luntz cops a well deserved serve, as well as a comprehensive and informative close reading in Steven Poole’s book Unspeak, which I highly recommend if you’re interested in the vagaries of “framing”. Poole pretty much picks up where Orwell left off in Politics and the English Language, though he’s got a few quibbles with EA Blair too (you can get some snippets free at his blog, which is also called Unspeak.

One argument he makes is that guys like Lakoff and Dean are making a mistake by trying to use their own “framing” to counter the other guys - in that such merely creates a war between two Luntzisms. Renaming anti-abortion positions as ‘pro-life’ didn’t stop Roe vs Wade any more than calling pro-abortion arguments pro-choice brought an end to the ‘culture wars’ (more Unspeak there). Insofar as such is achievable, clarity and precise language are more effective than rallying around a buzzword.

And my point, Hawthorne, is that Democrats — Republicans were mentioned twice in the topic sentence of the OP — do the same thing and have their own “Orwellian” language master who was instrumental in their recent victories. He also says it’s a good thing, as do the Democratic winners. And he explicitly advocates using it.

Since the OP explicitly said he was not debating anything, and since he drove home the point that Lintz is a Republican, why can’t I point out that the Democrats have Lakoff as a counterpart? Oh wait, I can! And by golly, I did.

Not in your quote he doesn’t. Now you might argue that what he’s effectively advocating is Orwellian language. He’s certainly advocating framing debates in ways helpful to his cause. But no, he’s not explicitly advocating Orwellian language as far as I can see.

To the best of my knowledge, Lakoff has never made a claim that Orwellian language is a good thing, not has he advocated using Orwellian language, using that word. Do you know something about Lakoff that I don’t?

I think you’re setting up a false equivalence to try to tweak me, so this will be the last time I respond to you here, unless something more substantial comes up.


:smiley: You’re a turtle.