Think that title is a joke? If so, then you haven’t read “The Agony of Frank Luntz” in The Atlantic, or you aren’t familiar with how much damage this guy has done to our country. Personally, I first met Luntz back in the late 1970s in Connecticut, when we were both Teenage Republicans (yes, believe it or not, I started off as a Republican, albeit of the progressive, Teddy Roosevelt/Lowell Weicker sort). Unlike Luntz, though, I quickly realized that progressive Republicanism had no future, and that what was rising in its place was an extreme, theocratic (e.g., Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson/”Moral Majority”), anti-environment, anti-science, anti-worker, anti-government, conspiracy-theory-minded, xenophobic, hard-right-wing force in American politics. In other words, the Republican Party was in the process of lurching far off the right-wing deep end, and I was outta there!
But not Frank Luntz. Instead, he’s dedicated the past 30+ years of his life to making s***-tons of money, while making America a much worse place (unless you’re super rich or a big corporation, of course). Here are some “highlights” (actually lowlights) of Luntz’s “notable work and views”:
*”Luntz was Pat Buchanan’s pollster during the 1992 U.S. Republican presidential primary.” Yes, Luntz worked for a white supremacist and anti-Semite (even though Luntz himself is Jewish).
*”Luntz also served as Newt Gingrich’s pollster in mid-1990s for the Contract with America…During that time, he helped Gingrich produce a GOPAC memo that encouraged Republicans to ‘speak like Newt’ by describing Democrats and Democratic policies using words such as ‘corrupt,’ ‘devour,’ ‘greed,’ ‘hypocrisy,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘sick,’ and ‘traitors.‘”
*”Although Luntz later tried to distance himself from the Bush administration policy, it was his idea that administration communications reframe ‘global warming’ as ‘climate change’ since ‘climate change’ was thought to sound less severe.”
*In general, Luntz’s approach is as follows: “Luntz’s description of his job revolves around exploiting the emotional content of language. ‘It’s all emotion. But there’s nothing wrong with emotion. When we are in love, we are not rational; we are emotional…my job is to look for the words that trigger the emotion….We know that words and emotion together are the most powerful force known to mankind..'”
In sum, Luntz has spent his adult life helping to divide America; to demonize Democrats, liberals, and progressives; to promote climate science denialism and to delay or prevent actions aimed at dealing with climate change; to prey on people’s darkest emotions rather than to their better angels of our natures (e.g., compassion, reason). And he’s done all this for two main reasons, as far as I can determine: 1) he’s a right-wing Republican true believer himself; and 2) more importantly, it’s made him gobs of money and gained this self-described “schlub” access to the highest levels of power in our country.
So, given all that, why is Frank Luntz now (supposedly) in “agony?” Other than the fact that his side lost the last presidential election (boo-hoo, Willard and Lyin’ Ryan aren’t President and VP!), and that he personally wasn’t hired by the Romney campaign, Luntz is supposedly experiencing mental anguish because (he says) “America is too divided,” because the American people are increasingly “contentious and argumentative” and aren’t “interested in hearing other points of view,” because they’re “divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor.” In short, the American people, Luntz believes, have become exactly what he’s spent his entire adult life working to make them. And now he’d have us believe he’s in “agony” because of it? Riiiiight.
I was curious to see how people reacted to this pathetic, sniveling whine-fest by this pathetic right-wing troll, so I checked the top-rated comments on The Atlantic article. A few jumped out at me, but none better than the following by commenter “seanmkelley”:
“this has all the sincerity of Lee Atwater’s deathbed confession without the redeeming quality of being on a deathbed“
Hahahahaha – classic, and so true! If you recall, Lee Atwater – as brilliantly depicted in the film Boogie Man, which I can’t recommend more highly if you want to understand the right wing in this country – spent his adult life doing what Luntz does. That is, dividing Americans, preying on people’s worst fears and prejudices, demonizing government, honing to a sharp knife’s edge the politics of personal destruction (see the Willie Horton ads against Michael Dukakis for an example of many of these lovely traits), and generally working 24/7 to move this country in a harsher, nastier direction.
After doing so much damage to our country, Atwater kind-of/sort-of repented on his “deathbed” (he had brain cancer). A month before he passed away, Atwater wrote in Life Magazine: “My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.” He also “apologized to Michael S. Dukakis for the ‘naked cruelty’ of a remark he made about the Democratic Presidential nominee in the 1988 campaign,” and admitted that “while I didn’t invent negative politics…I am one of its most ardent practitioners.”
Today, Lee Atwater is no longer with us, but we’re unfortunately stuck with his political spawn – people like Karl Rove, Chris LaCivita, Scott Howell, and of course Frank Luntz himself. Are any of them in “agony” like Frank Luntz? And what, exactly, is Luntz in “agony” about, anyway, as he certainly doesn’t renounce his harsh right-wing views in The Atlantic article (e.g., Luntz says “When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it. I should have the savings, and if I don’t, my neighbors should pitch in for me” – WTF?!?!?!?).
So who knows, but the bottom line is that Luntz is either actually having a sad or pretending to have one, not for the America he’s worked tirelessly to make harsher, meaner, and more divided, but for…I dunno, apparently that he wasn’t hired by the Romney campaign, that he’s not getting his calls returned by potential Hollywood clients, and he can’t figure out which of his mansions to hang out in. Such agony…
P.S. It’s worth noting that 2013 Republican Lt. Governor candidate (and almost certainly a candidate in 2017) Pete Snyder is a protege of Frank Luntz.