Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman
An office located in a tiny building in Oriskany Falls, New York influences how we think about politics. It's the Polemics Manufacturing Co. which secretly came up with such phrases as "Death panels "¦Just doesn't get it..The Party of No"¦" Politicians, talk show hosts and pundits rely on its scripted material. Production can't keep up with demand.
In a rare interview, CEO Howard Schmidlap revealed his company's role.
"It takes a lot of money to come up with trite political phrases and demonization smears," Schmidlap said. "I need to cut costs, so I started consulting some top CEOs for advice.."
"Have you talked to anyone yet?"
"Sure. I talked with Walmart's CEO. He told me I could get the cheapest polemics by outsourcing further to China. I talked with a top BP official. He told me I could cut corners on product and no one would even notice."
The phone rang.
"Yes, Rush. You need to top yesterday's comment questioning Obama's patriotism? You're going on the air soon? Yes. I know that if you don't get some fresh inflammatory inaccuracies your ratings will sink. I'll get on it right away."
He dialed the phone. "Ramnath in New Delhi? Get me catchy sound bite ASAP that will enrage the mainstream media, delight conservative bloggers, upset liberal bloggers and get centrist bloggers tsk-tsking. It's for Limbaugh. Tie Obama in with Al Qeada, ridicule his golf game and link it to Tiger Wood's affairs. That should be worth three Special Comments on Olbermann. Oh: and make fun of Michelle's hair."
He looked at me.
"Where were we?"
The phone rang again.
"Hello? Yes, Sean. I know you're desperate. Yes, Beck IS getting more attention. No, I do not give him more stuff. He just asks for more and I have to give it to him since he cries if I don't. Hey. Stop crying! OK: I'll send you four minutes of cherry picking, five minutes of near slander, and 10 minutes of craven partisan hackery."
He hung up.
"Hannity is easy. I just rewrite what I wrote for Limbaugh and cut out the style and wit."
The phone rang again. Keith Olbermann.
"Yes. Keith. I'm backlogged. I sent you four pages of partisan bias and snark to use against O'Reilly and Fox News yesterday. I know you want more. No I am NOT giving my best liberal stuff to Ed Schultz.. Look, whose idea was it to have you do those almost-daily "˜Special Comments' anyway?. Consider the quality of my partisan bile. Remember you're talking to the guy who came up with "pre-owned cars" for "˜used cars.' "˜Special Comment' helped re-brand "˜Boring Been There/Done That Partisan Rant.' Or at least for one show."
I asked him where he gets his inspiration.
"I live next to a pre-school. Yesterday there was a drive-by finger painting. One day I heard three kids call each other "˜pooh-pooh heads' and saw how the teachers jumped in and paid the most attention to the loudest kid.Â I simply transplanted infantile, pre-school name-calling to the adult political world -- although since it was for the political world I had to dumb it down a little."
Democrats and Republicans running for Congress were texting him. A frantic Ann Coulter was on hold.
"What's your favorite trite political phrase creation?" I asked.
""˜The Public Option.; I outdid myself on that one. It's chalk scraping a blackboard.. Even now you can hear liberal callers on Schultz say they won't vote for the Democrats unless they get "˜The Public Option.' So grating and bureaucratic."
He apologized and said he had to run.
"I'm overworked and need more staff. So I'm hiring someone who's waiting outside now who'll make me a ton of money when political talkers, political hacks and political bloggers use his inflammatory and inaccuracy-packed phrases perfectly suited for today's debate."
As he showed me the door he buzzed his secretary.
"Now: can you show Mel Gibson in?"
Copyright 2010 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.
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