Saturday, October 02, 2004

Lakoff is Everywhere!

Not since the anti-Lakoff, Noam Chomsky, has a linguist gotten this much attention outside of linguistics and related fields. At first I thought that Lakoff's name had become like an ex-girlfriend whose face you see in everything, but now there's no denying it. Lakoff really is everywhere. He's become omnipresent in the liberal media, and even the mainstream media. You know someone has officially become a nationally-known political pundit when his analysis of a presidential debate is published in a major publication (the fact that Salon has ads on national television makes it a major publication in my mind). As you might imagine, his post-debate message is the same as the message in his books, articles, and other interviews. The Democrats have the right message, but they don't play the game very well. Here is what he had to say about Kerry's performance in the Salon interview:

Kerry's language looked promising at times. For example, during the debate, Kerry mentioned peril and crises in North Korea, Iran and the Sudan in a critique of Bush's leadership, and after all three examples he repeated the phrase "And the world is more dangerous." That's the right idea, Lakoff said, "but he never came back to it."

In the end, Democrats are stuck playing defense for the time being no matter who claims victory in the battles of the presidential debates, because Republicans have taken the lead in the larger war. They've captured the political language.
He's definitely getting the message out, and for that reason, I'm glad he's doing it. I'm still not sure why people are suddenly open to old ideas, or why they've accepted Lakoff as their spokesperson. There are better frame theorists, and God knows, there are better linguists and political theorists. But the message needed to get out, and someone needed to do the gruntwork. Better Lakoff than someone less capable. I wonder if he has political aspirations himself.

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