Monday, August 07, 2006

Framing Issues

Froomkin's latest column quotes Bush and some others from his administration on the proposed Israel-Hezbullah resolution:

Responding to specific questions about the resolution and the conflict, Bush tirelessly dipped into his small store of stock answers, repeatedly extolling the universal appeal of liberty and asserting the importance of addressing the "root cause" of the violence -- terrorists in general, Hezbollah in particular -- as part of "the great challenge of the 21st century."
A Trap?

In their press briefings yesterday, Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley not coincidentally used the exact same phrase to describe what they expect will happen after the resolution is approved: "We'll see who is for peace and who isn't."

Of course, if you believe Lebanese officials, that's because the resolution is a trap.

Note all the framing issues in that short quote? Talking about "root cause" without actually saying anything about it, mentioning "the great challenge", without actually telling how we are going to face it. He's punching emotional buttons without adding any new information at all.

But the "We'll see who is for peace and who isn't" piece is new and very clever. The framing reduces the available options to two: Either you accept the U.S. view and are for peace, or you are not for peace. No other options exist.

This is how issues are framed by the Bush administration, and in a short while we are all talking about people "being for peace or not", as if the verity of the framing was in no doubt at all.