Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Note on Messaging

Now that Mass. has appointed a temporary replacement for the late Sen. Kennedy, the Dems have 60 votes again. But that might not help them:

One of the toughest Democrats to corral in the Senate confirmed on Thursday that he is not committed to helping his party block a Republican filibuster on health care legislation.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has long been a skeptic of Democratic-led health care reform, specifically the public option for insurance coverage. But in the wake of Paul Kirk's appointment as a temporary replacement for the late Senator Ted Kennedy -- which gives the party 60 caucusing members -- leadership and allied Democratic groups have renewed their hopes that the Nebraskan would commit to voting for cloture, the 60-vote hurdle that would allow health care to be considered by up-or-down vote.
So, the note. Don't use the word "cloture". Using the word "cloture" implies that there the Senate actually requires a super-majority to pass a bill. It doesn't. It's 50 plus the veep, always has been. What "Cloture" does is stop a filibuster. THAT is the word you should be using.

You say "cloture", and people think procedure. They tune out. You use "filibuster", and all of a sudden, it's obstruction. Even better, you can paint those who aren't willing to make the vote happen as supporting the filibuster. On something as vital as health care reform, that makes them sound like asses.

So look at two ways of describing this story:

Ben Nelson won't commit to voting for cloture? "Meh, boring procedure."

Ben Nelson supports a Republican filibuster on health care? "Isn't he a Democrat? Why is he supporting the Republicans? What an ass!"

See? So don't use "vote for cloture". Use "support the filibuster".

(Or, even better, say "He's filibustering", because that's pretty much what you're doing if you won't vote for cloture. But either works.)

No comments:

Post a Comment