Focus Group Phrases

“Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”
“Taking the war to the terrorists.”
“He gased his own people.”
“Social Security is going broke.”
“The media is liberal.”
“They dumped babies out of incubators.”
“Environmentalists care more about trees than jobs.”
“The science on global warming is inconclusive.”
Children trapped in failing public schools.”
Out-of-control lawsuits.”
These are all phrases that have a “ring” to them. They all evoke in the mind an image that leads to certain conclusions. They all are (or were) repeated endlessly until everyone was repeating them in their sleep.
Phrases like these come out of focus groups. Focus groups probe people’s feelings and beliefs. The way this kind of focus group works is you bring together small groups of people who belong to “target demographics,” and run through several catchy groups of words and ideas, and asking “If you were told so-and-so, what would you then believe about such-and-such?”

In the 90’s it was “If you learned that Bill Clinton had done so-and-so would it make you more likely to vote for a Republican for Congress (Senate, etc.)?” If the focus groups concluded that when the right people learned that Bill Clinton secretly dyed his pubic hair green then they would be more likely to vote Republican, the next day stories would start circulating that Clinton dyed his pubic hair green. Rush Limbaugh would pass it along. Columnists would hint at it. E-mails would be forwarded with a joke, a joke, a line about Clinton’s green pubic hair, and a couple more jokes. Rock DJs would slip it in with a snicker between tunes. The story would be everywhere.
Think about the phrase, “Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” What is it supposed to mean? It sounds good, but does it really make any sense as a strategy for protecting the country?
The main premise is that there is this unspecified number of mysterious “they” who “want to attack us.” Another premise is that the people fighting in Iraq are the same people as these people who attacked us on 9/11. Another is that these people are somehow swarming to Iraq instead of pursuing any plans they might have to launch attacks against us here.
Like I said, maybe it sounds good, maybe it tricks the mind into relaxing and not thinking this through, but it certainly is not a realistic plan for protecting the country. The phrase is meaningless, but you are hearing it repeated everywhere.

2 thoughts on “Focus Group Phrases

  1. Bush is a dumb ass
    Bush is the worst President ever
    Bush Administration is stealing us blind
    Bush Administration is incompetent
    Republicans should learn to read

  2. “Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”
    One word: Madrid

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