Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mike Littwin Shows "How It's Done."

This site is dedicated to the documentation of our anti-Republican culture. It highlights instances where Americans readily accept the demeaning of Republican points of view as “right and natural.”

In Colorado, we got a dose of that last week with Mike Littwin’s “Morning Brew” in the Denver Post. His column was titled, “A snow job on global warming.”

The article was timely. A major storm had hit the East coast of the United States and records were set for the amount of snow accumulation. The storm caused people to wonder whether record snowfall was possible in a world beset by global warming. Mr. Littwin wrote his column with that context in mind.

The anthropogenic global warming debate is contentious. Not only in America, but around the world, people take one side or the other. In Great Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is concerned. He sees imminent catastrophe.

President Obama sides with Mr. Brown, but others are more sanguine. The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) bills itself as being “dedicated to sound public policy based on sound science.” It finds that climate change is not the most serious issue facing humankind.

In America, the anthropogenic global warming / climate change debate is used to promote the theme that Republicans are destroying the environment. It doesn’t make much difference whether the earth is going through a warming or cooling period. Republicans take the blame.

I have used my blog profile as an illustration of how theme-based characterizations can color political debate. However, if you want to see a true master at work, take a look at Mike Littwin’s article.

Better yet, let me walk you through it. Mr. Littwin uses a three-step process, where he sets the stage, characterizes the opposing viewpoints, and then sums everything up with the appropriate anti-Republican theme. Watch and learn…

* * *
Setting the Stage
Mr. Littwin starts out by characterizing Republicans as inferior people.

He first describes them as willfully uninformed. They are “skeptics/deniers/flat-earthers."

He then illustrates how they lack analytic skills. He depicts them as troglodytes, drawing incorrect inferences from a single data point. Republicans see that “Snow is cold. Lots of snow produces lots of cold. And when there’s that much cold, it must prove, therefore, that global warming is a ruse.”

Characterizing the Viewpoints
Mr. Littwin next introduces the opposing viewpoints and their champions, characterizing the Republican as - wait for it - LOSERS.

He shows us Republican intolerance and defiance. Former Republican Representative Scott McInnis (now running for Governor) makes a critical remark on Mayor John Hickenlooper’s recent trip to Copenhagen, saying “I will not determine Colorado energy policy from Copenhagen.” That statement is described as being representative of America’s political “silly season” and Mr. Littwin follows up with a characterization of Mr. McInnis as being mean-spirited and evasive, citing the former Congressman’s questioning of the validity of global warming science.

In direct contrast, the champion on the anti-Republican side is portrayed as thoughtful and deserving of the benefit of doubt. Mr. Hickenlooper (also running for Governor) is described as one who “knows the science…” and doesn’t “change his views with each audience.” Mr. Hickenlooper himself laments that “the extremes are trying to polarize the issue….” If we are trying to connect the dots, we now know into which category Mr. McInnis is to be placed.

Summing Up
The final act is the summation of the proceedings and reinforcement of the anti-Republican themes.

Republicans are clearly political beasts who will never change their stripes. Mr. Littwin warns us, “Don’t expect the political climate to get any better.” The implication is that Republicans do not operate in good faith.

Meanwhile, the Denver Mayor is recalibrating his global warming message so that his campaign for Governor casts him as a mediator, rather than an advocate. Mayor Hickenlooper tells us, “I’ve said many times before, many of the smartest scientists in the world think this is happening. It would be very short-sighted not to pay attention.” He goes on to say, “there are probably going to be dramatic consequences. We’d be fools not to begin prioritizing and mitigating.”

The posturing moves Mayor Hickenlooper “above the fray.” Republicans attempt the “flip flop” characterization, but it is overworked and stale.

* * *

So there you have it. A story on page two of the Denver Post teaches us that Republicans are bad people bent on destroying the environment, while their political opponents are thoughtful, credible, fair-minded and tolerant.

You may not be aware of the themes being used, or the role being played by Mr. Littwin, but what is definitely true is that you come away from the article with a vague sense that there is something about Scott McInnis you don’t like.

Somewhere, Mike Littwin is smiling and thinking, “Mission accomplished.”

UPDATE 1/4/2011:
As of today, the Denver Post has modified its format so that Mr. Littwin is no longer on page two.  He is now (correctly) on the op-ed page.  Gregory L. Moore, Editor of the Denver Post, appears to have come to the understanding that newspapers with structural bias are losing their readership.

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