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Framing the debate.

Kenneth Baer's critique of Don't Think Of An Elephant is ultimately unconvincing because it argues against Lakoff's politics instead of taking on Lakoff's theory ("Word Games," January/February).

What Lakoff claims is that the manipulative power of language framing is ultimately more important to a successful political message than the ideas behind it. This new insight resonates with Democratic populists, like me, who are frustrated by conservatives' use of deceptive language to malign Democratic ideas and erode American values while Democratic leaders appear powerless to defend them.

I don't care if Baer agrees with Lakoff politically. What I care about is Lakoff's argument that language framing is relevant to create a more successful progressive message that will help Democrats win back the political advantage. Apparently, Baer agrees with that part of Lakoff's book by taking credit for it. Then, he slams him as a "left-wing liberal" which is exactly the language flaming Republicans use to malign good ideas with irrelevant ideological bashing.

When will the New Democrats and DLC get it? The grassroots uprising in the. Democratic Party is not about extremist ideology, as bombastic DLC egomaniac DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) such as Baer keep arguing, along with right-wing talk-show hosts. It is the natural insurrection of average patriotic Americans who can't sit around anymore and watch the country we love fall apart.

By the way, you may dismiss what I have to say by assuming that I am one of those "Birken-stock" liberals that Baer claims are pulling the Democrats too far to the left. Wrong again. I am, in fact, a Christian, stay-at-home morn, and "recovering" Republican red-starer, who can't stomach what the GOP is doing to this country. If a former Republican like me is part of the lefty fringe as Baer defines it, then Baer is the one who is misleading Democrats, not Lakoff.

Wendy Foster Dickson

Manchester, Mo.
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Author:Dickson, Wendy Foster
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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