Take it away Ezra Klein….
You can’t pass what you can’t say:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”
One of my rules in politics is that whichever side is resorting to framing devices is losing. In 2004, when Democrats became obsessed with George Lakoff, it’s because they felt unpopular and looking for a quick fix. And in 2006, when they took the Congress back, it wasn’t because they found a new slogan. It was because the Iraq War and Jack Abramoff had made the Republicans toxic. In 2008, it was exhaustion with George W. Bush and a cratering economy. Post-9/11 frame theory wouldn’t have said run the black guy with the name “Hussein.”
If cap-and-trade is so unpopular that its primary legislative advocates can’t mention it, then it’s dead. The BP oil spill offered a chance to change the fundamentals on the issue and Democrats decided against trying to use the disaster as a galvanizing moment for climate legislation. Word games don’t offer a similar opportunity.
Photo credit: Drew Angerer/AP.