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Political Chicanery

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, June 9th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: humour, spin - Tags:

The Irascible Curmudgeon writes some really good posts. So without apology we republish this little gem on spin and the art of re-writing history. John Key follows the same style – as evidenced by his shifty stories on when he knew about complaints against Richard Worth last week.

The sort of political spin we can expect from the Beehive under the present Government. After all their PR machine has had experience in the USA political campaigning so a lesson learnt there will be used in New Zealand.

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Congressman Harry Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory. On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: ‘Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.’ So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle. Believe it or not, Harry Reid’s staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.

That’s real POLITICAL SPIN

THAT’s how it’s done, Folks!
That’s real POLITICAL SPIN

update: see also this link

11 comments on “Political Chicanery”

    • felix 1.1

      In what way does the fictional vs factual dimension of the story impact on it’s ability to demonstrate an example of brilliant spin?

      Really, when you guys don’t understand a post you should just move on and read something else.

      • Mr Magoo 1.1.1

        Apart from the fact that it unecessarily slanders a current US politician, it is not that good a joke.

        But nice to see the standard and other left leaning blogs republishing right wing viral campaign trash?

        ??

        • felix 1.1.1.1

          So your answer, if I interpret that correctly, is “in no way at all”.

          • Mr Magoo 1.1.1.1.1

            My answer is that if all this post was was a joke then you would be right.

            It is not. In fact, it is doubtful that it was even the orginal author’s primary goal.

            In any regard.

            Political spin is a subset of lying that covers plausible deniability and shreds of truth interspersed with lies to make a message acceptable when the truth would not be. I guess the above is somewhat like that.

            The joke’s main hook is that it is REAL. That is why these viral nuisances always hook themselves onto real people and events. They simply are not very funny otherwise.

            Ooohh look. You can play with words to make something seem like something else when you take it out of context. Hardly Oscar Wilde?

            But that is just one man’s opinion. Some people laugh at all sorts of stuff.

            Or perhaps the Wilde-esk portion of this joke was from the right winger who wrote it?

            You all fell for it after all and would be none the wiser if someone had not checked it!

          • felix 1.1.1.1.2

            Sigh. You’ve missed it again. It’s got nothing to do with whether you think it’s supposed to be funny.

            This is a textbook example of how to turn unpleasant truths into something more palatable. That’s what (positive) spin is. If you do it right you can even make a villain into a hero.

            The story itself isn’t true. So what? It’s an example and a pretty good one.

            If you disagree, then please explain why it would be a better example if it were true.

          • Mr Magoo 1.1.1.1.3

            I think my main point was, several times now, that this particular story was listed as truth and is actually a right wing lie about a current politician.

            sigh…

            see, I can be emoo also.

            Without the harry reid part, it really is not worth commenting on. The post goes to great length and effort (2/4 paragraphs) to explain the harry reid connection, so don’t pretend it is not an important of the story!

            Mostly just annoying.

          • felix 1.1.1.1.4

            I think my main point was, several times now, that this particular story was listed as truth and is actually a right wing lie about a current politician.”

            Ah, no. To recap.

            First you said the crucial point of the story was it’s truthiness. When you couldn’t defend that stance you decided that the crucial matter was:

            a) that it was slanderous.

            b) that you didn’t think it was a very good joke.

            c) that it wasn’t even meant to be a joke.

            d) that it was meant to be a joke, but only if it was a true story.

            And now, the crucial matter is the truthiness again, but you can’t explain why.

            Of course, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. The fact that snopes lists a variety of versions of the story, each involving real-life figures is a testament to the robustness of the story regardless of its factuality.

            My question remains completely unaddressed: In what way does the fictional vs factual dimension of the story impact on it’s ability to demonstrate an example of brilliant spin?

            If you can’t answer it (which you would’ve if you could’ve), get over it. You missed the point of the post. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, just get on with your life.

          • Mr Magoo 1.1.1.1.5

            Obviously you just don’t get what I am saying so I am going to just step out of this one. Yes you restated my argument, no you still don’t seem to get what the point of my argument was.
            I can answer your question and to be honest you are being quite patronising about it all and that is somewhat annoying. My choosing to answer a question or not of YOUR choosing has nothing to do with the validity if my statement.
            You don’t get to assign the key question upon which my statements are validated anywhere else except inside your own head.
            My answer to your question would be what I wrote above and implied in all my previous posts, even in your restatement of my argument. The post was poorly chosen and unnecessarily slanderous. Thus is was a rubbish post.
            YOUR original point was that it was just a joke and thus any other statement must simply be “not getting it”. What rubbish.

            I guess that was my long winded point was that the post was trash from all angles. It was slanderous, it was fake and it was not that funny once that was known. Now the last part of that is a subjective call on my part, the first two are not.
            I think that is where you are missing my argument. I don’t care about the last one – you do. You seem to think that because a slanderous and false story has an element/veneer of humour then it is thus a great example of “it does not actually matter what” and no further discussion can be entered into.
            I call BS on that point. Just because a thinly veiled attempt at (old) humour is used, does not remove the core of the post.
            Therefore we beg to differ.

            Also, saying “you just don’t get it” is not an automatic win from either side, so this debate is pointless.

            I can’t believe I wasted this many posts on it to be honest.

            Meh.

    • lprent 1.2

      Amusing. I figured that it would be one of those stories. Quite interesting how many times this one has actually been used.

      However I found it really funny. It also felt exactly like John Key trying to spin the Richard Worth stuff last week.

      I suppose I should have put the humour tag on this morning. But it was at 6am, a lousy hour for writing.

  1. Irascible 2

    It is really interesting to see the reaction of the right wing bloggers when their comedy routines are used against them. While the story might be a viral one the point is simply Key and his worthy mates are practising the same sort of spin in order to escape scrutiny by the wider public. The scandals around this six month government have all, like John Key, been dressed in misrepresentations throughout 2008 and in to this year. These will come home to roost eventually much to the Engkeylish disquiet.

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