Monday, September 22, 2008

The Power of Slogans: Con Man / Politician Similarities--Part II

--Political Season turns out to be a Great Teacher of Con Man Jargon Power

For those who wonder why "abbreviation" is such a long word, and why a diplomat thinks twice before saying nothing, we hope this will serve as a primer on the con man / politician relationship.

For starters, let's examine a few of the most impact-filled political slogans of history (from past Presidential campaigns):

> In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts. Powerful putdown of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential race.

> Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion. Potent slogan, lifted from a statement by a prominent Democrat, used against George McGovern in the 1972 Presidential campaign.

> A Chicken in Every Pot, a Car in Every Garage. A strong slogan, effectively employed by Herbert Hoover in his 1928 landslide bid.

> Where's the Beef? Popular slogan, catchy phrase ,revered especially by late night talk show comedians.--but one that did not do Walter Mondale any good in his 1984 campaign against Ronald Reagan, who won 49 states. Probably because these 3 simple words were too vague, did not ring any particular bells.

> Ma, Ma, who's my Pa? When James Blaine used this slogan in his 1884 campaign--referring to his rival, Grover Cleveland's 1874 cotribution of an illegitimate child--it backfired. This was, perhaps, the first major attempt at "gutter politics" in U.S. history. Cleveland became the next President that year.

> Better Dead than Red. Powerful slogan which sprung up during the Eisenhower Presidency of the 1950s. "Left-wingers" and Communism were super-taboo in those days Lead to 2 Eisenhower landslides.

> Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids did you Kill Today? This bottom-of-the-deck slogan is said to have influenced Lyndon Johnson to pull out of his 1968 Presidential re-election effort altogether.

< Lips that Touch Liquor Must Never Touch Mine. Memorable slogan from the Temperance movement at the turn of the 20th Century

Now, let's examine a few catch phrases that can easily apply to the con man, and see how they might line up, comparably, to juice a political campaign:

> Boldly Going Nowhere. Could be used by any contender against any incumbent.

< You Can't Fall Off the Floor. Meaning, you may as well elect me (contender). Things couldn't get any worse.

> Hermits have no Peer Pressure. For any candidate pushing the isolationist line--get out of the UN, reel in all armed forces from around the world, concentrate on "Fortress America," go out in the backyard and eat worms.

> A few Clowns Short of a Circus. For the contender pointing a finger at an incumbent's inept administration.

> Capital Punishment isn't for making examples: It's for Making Bad People Dead.
Obviously, for those favoring cap;ital punishment. (This one is probably too long, though, to make an effective slogan.)

Biggest difference between a politician and an accomplished con man is illustrated by the old principle: Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.. The good con man knows that, at the right time, silence can be golden. The average politician hasn't seemed to have learned this lesson yet

If in doubt, you can always enhance your victimhood and cast your vote for the slimy weasel. When emotion trumps logic in elections--as sadly, it often does--this seems to be the only way out.

Or, if you can't figure a logical way out of the vote-choice dilemma, follow the Yogi Berra advice: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

19 comments:

Terry said...

Right off the top of the box it's Ma, Ma, Who's my Pa? that gets me.

Gene Kranik said...

I know sloganeering has always been big in politics, but all these stupid slogans are never so funny as when you see tham all together. I like In Your Guts You Know He's Nuts the best.

Reylene Hughes said...

I always thought Better Dead than Red was real morbid. But my dad said it was effective.

Lynn said...

This seems to be turning into a contest as to who can name the most effective slogan. I don't know about effective, but the one that always turned me off the most was "Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today"?

I thought that one was completely sickening.

Ione Hesber said...

You would think that grown adults would have better things to do than run around yelling Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. I do think the con experts are better at slogans than politicians. They seem so much more sophisticated about it.

Warmer said...

I'll have to remember that, when in doubt about my victimhood, cast my vote for the slimy weasel.

Jack Payne said...

Oh, gosh, come on, guys. We're getting into nothing but word games here. I thought this piece would stoke up some observations and / or opinions on the subject of slogans as being effective, or ineffective, parts of political campaigns. Let's see some real deep thoughts and laser-like depiction.

Dolcett said...

This financial crisis we are in now is so bad that its hard to imagine anybody coming up with an effective slogan on this one. When the name calling is so bad, do you see any hope for some chatty phrase to correct things?

Jane Turley said...

Oh let's face it your average guy on the street loves a slogan. Why else do companies spend a fortune on advertising? Any of these slogans could just as easily be "Beans mean Heinz." It's all about manipulating the mind and digging into the subconcious. The sad thing is that actually a lot of people fall for it....

Now I'm off to stock up on my beans...

Dogboy said...

Oh but this is such a delicious word game. How could you ever beat, When you come to a fork in the road, take it?

Warren M said...

You point out one thing for sure is that the politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are good at running off at the mouth. They seem to never shut up, even at the appropriate time.

Gabrielle Faust said...

"In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts."
Hmm...this would be a good one to use in reference to McCain. ;)

Ariel J said...

It seems I've heard A few clowns short of a circus used in conjunction with a political campaign but can't remember where.

Varun said...

Slogans are a big part of marketing,and sadly these days politics is also nothing but marketing.
It's the same everywhere...I really don't like it though,these people need to focus on the real issues.
Then again who am I kidding,real issues are boring for most voters..

K.M. George said...

Funny thing- a friend and I were just discussing this very thing today!

"A Chicken in Every Pot, a Car in Every Garage. A strong slogan, effectively employed by Herbert Hoover in his 1928 landslide bid."

He was stating he wished Hoover was running right now!

K.M. George
Hodge Podge Blog

Sherin - IInternals said...

Nice word game. You are rocking... very interesting to read your blog.. appreciated

Sherin
http://investinternals.blogspot.com

Robin Easton said...

I am laughing my guts out!!!

"Ma, Ma, who's my Pa?" LOLOLOL

And:"Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids did you Kill Today? This bottom-of-the-deck slogan is said to have influenced Lyndon Johnson to pull out of his 1968 Presidential re-election effort altogether."

Oh my gawd!!! I had not heard these. They are great they are so hysterical. That you know all of these is quite remarkable.

"> Boldly Going Nowhere. Could be used by any contender against any incumbent."

LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!

I think this is my favorite line here. I am howling!!!

Oh Jack this post has to be your absolute TOPS!!!! I cannot get over your wit and sharp mind. I don't know how you do it!! I feel like I've got a brain full of marshmallows. LOL

GREAT post Jack.
Stupendous!!!
Hugs, Robin

Anonymous said...

This is my first post I'd love to congratulate you for such a great made forum!
Was thinking this would be a perfect way to make my first post!

Sincerely,
Edwyn Sammy
if you're ever bored check out my site!
[url=http://www.partyopedia.com/articles/hot-wheels-party-supplies.html]hot wheels Party Supplies[/url].

Anonymous said...

Hi guys, my names Eva and im completely new to this forum.

I hope that I'll learn and share a lot of interesting things.

Thanks,
Eva