Thursday, April 07, 2005

Not Clairvoyant ... Just Experienced ...

I made a friend of mine at work laugh the other day. She had just returned from a press conference held by one of the parties to an ongoing debate over a proposed municipal ordinance. At that press conference, they announced the results of a poll taken among local, registered voters, asking them a variety of questions related to one facet or another of the debate.

I'm no Great Carnack, and I don't have his really fine turban ... but I took a stab at predicting what response the poll results had gotten from the opposing parties in the debate.

'One side,' I guessed, 'would say the poll represented a mandate from the people, as to how they wished our local elected representative to act in considering the proposed ordinance.'

'The other side,' I went on, 'will state that the results of this poll are not relevant ... that, really, you can make the numbers say anything you like.'

She laughed ... I was right.

I'm not clairvoyant ... just experienced. One of many revelations that come to anyone in my business - after enough time and enough interviews with enough people - is that there seems to be a finite set of attitudes and comments employed by those who reach out to the public at-large on behalf of a special interest. That doesn't mean that there is a limit to what we can say and think ... only a limit to what your average spokesman wants you to say and think.

I have not identified the proposed ordinance, by the way, and I don't intend to. I suspect that a number of you with contacts in West Texas know EXACTLY what I'm talking about, anyway.

You really hear much the same on just about every topic, at just about every level of society and government.

And the best thing of all ... this finite set of attitudes and statements is truly universal, and completely interchangeable. One example ... six years ago, Democrats labeled the Whitewater investigation as a partisan witchhunt, while Republicans labeled it a righteous probe into one of the greatest moral outrages of the modern era. Now, Republicans label the DeLay ethics investigation as a partisan witchhunt, while Democrats label it a righteous probe into one of the greatest moral outrages of the modern era. One can almost imagine in Washington, every four (or eight) years, not just a transfer of power from one political party to the other, but a transfer of dictionaries and style books, as well.

It's happened before ... and it will happen again, and again and again. It's not clairvoyance that has me making that prediction ... just experience.

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