The big lie
Truth is message plus repetition
The big lie
Dick Polman, Inquirer National Political Columnist
Following up on yesterday's piece, varying the format...
"This Friday morning meeting of the Committee to Kill Health Care Reform will now come to order. Let's get a fill from our communications director. How are things going for us?"
"They're going terrific, Mr. Chairman. This 'death panel' BS has really caught on. These people in the town hall meetings really believe that the reform bill gives Obama the power to kill their grannies."
Much laughter around the table. The chairman shakes his head in bemusement: "It's amazing what we have accomplished, given the fact that the bill only talks about voluntary end-of-life counseling."
"Oh, its better than that, Mr. Chairman. Remember the Medicare prescription drug bill of 2003? Take a wild guess what provision more than 280 Republican lawmakers in both chambers voted in favor of: Voluntary end-of-life counseling, for the terminally ill! Yep, the Republicans were for 'death panels' before they were against them!"
"Don't let that one get around, OK? We're fortunate right now that so many people are such gullible sheep."
"The beautiful thing is, people are so fixated on our BS, they have no clue that the voluntary counseling provision in the Senate bill was actually introduced by Johnny Isakson - "
"I know, the Republican senator from Georgia. Never mind that, either. Let's just keep spreading our message. Let's stick with what works, maybe even improve on it. Anybody got any ideas how to improve on 'Obama would kill your granny?' I see that our director of talk radio outreach has his hand up. Whatcha got?"
"How about 'the foreign-born Muslim would kill your granny'?"
"Get Glenn Beck on the phone. Other ideas, folks?"
Suddenly there's a knock on the door. A breathless aide rushes in, brandishing a news story printout. "Mr. Chairman, sorry to interrupt, but I knew you'd want to hear this: The Senate has dropped the voluntary end-of-life counseling provision! It's not in the Senate bill anymore! I got the news right here. The wires are reporting that the provision has been dropped in order to quell the entire furor, to make it go away."
For a long moment, a stunned silence reigns as the strategists ponder the apparent loss of their message. How could they keep morphing "voluntary counseling" into "forced euthanasia" if the voluntary counseling provision was no longer on the table anymore?
"Our communications director seems anxious to say something."
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I see that you're smiling. I'm smiling for the same reason. This new development changes nothing. The senators' decision to kill their voluntary counseling provision is a sign of weakness. In response, we should simply press our advantage. Why should we stop with our message just because they have surrendered? They're such saps. They have the truth on their side, and they don't even have the guts to fight for it."
"But what is 'the truth,' anyway?" scoffs the talk radio outreach director. "The truth is what people come to believe. The truth is message plus repetition."
"Therefore," says the communications director, "we should simply stick with our message, keep talking about the plot to kill granny. What difference does it make if the voluntary counseling provision is still in the Senate bill or not? We just proceed as if it's still in there. Most people won't catch on that it's gone, and we certainly won't tell them. And even if they do catch on, they'll still think that killing granny will be part of Obama's master plan some time down the road. Especially if we help stoke that notion. In other words, we should just work the basic lie that we've had all along - and compound it. Make it bigger. Right, Mr. Chairman?"
"Exactly. You know, there's an old quote I read somewhere, about how easy it can be to persuade the masses. Something about how 'in the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.'"
"Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, didn't Adolf Hitler say that?"
"Well, yes, he did. In Mein Kampf, I think it was. But what he said is true about all societies, wouldn't you agree? Or would you all be more comfortable if I cited an all-American example?"
Everybody nods expectantly.
"Fine, let's go with P. T. Barnum. 'There's a sucker born every minute.' Meeting adjourned, folks. Have a good weekend!"