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writing for godot

Romney's Pig in the Poke Trick

Written by Todd Miller, Ph.D.   
Saturday, 06 October 2012 07:29 suggested that in the past Romney has used a Pig in the Poke tactic on health care issues. I’ll elaborate on that idea. A Pig in the Poke is a dishonest tactic used by grifters, politicians and cult leaders. The trickester presents an appealing but incomplete story, partial position or policy. In the case of politics, using an incomplete story gives the politician many advantages. First, the politician can adjust the story to make it more appealing to different audiences. This can be accomplished because the politician never gives enough details to let anyone fully understand what being proposed. The tactic hides from your audience what the politician's true intentions are. The Pig in the Poke tactic also gives the politician another advantage. It’s difficult to attack a position or policy that you don’t understand. When analysts or an opponent criticize the politician’s story, the politician can simply change the story and claim that critics are casting false aspersions. Similarly, when individuals attempt to investigate how the politician stands on an issue and finds a flaw in it, the politician can shift positions. The politician gains these advantages because the story is like an inkblot. It’s essentially meaningless and open to a wide variety of interpretations. Given that the story is incomplete, a Pig in the Poke story can be designed to be very appealing. That is, it can tell voters that they can have their cake and eat it to. The only problem is the politician can’t explain exactly how the magic is going to work. Therefore, the Pig in the Poke politician must be constantly vigilant against those who would expose the trick. In order to keep the trick from being let out of the bag, the politician accuses those who challenge the vagueness of the plan as people who just don’t get it or counters with personal attacks that specifically claim the other person is unqualified to judge the plan or is biased. The politician may engage in fear-mongering to misdirect the audience toward their opponent's plan or engage in pre-emptive personal attacks against those who are likely to credibly challenge the story.The evidence to support an incomplete policy by it’s very nature has to be phony because the plan is incomplete and therefore can’t be supported by any kind of logical analysis unless it’s filled in and this is something the politician can’t do. This presents a problem because people often ask for evidence that a policy works. Therefore, the politician cites complex or appealing false evidence to add to the confusion. However, the evidence may be like the story: incomplete or misleading. One way to identify this sort of political trick is to examine whether the policies almost seem too good to be true. The story may even seem to rely on magic. However,like most things that are to good to be true, a thoughtful analysis will find the story is promising too much and leaves out important details. However, amidst the confusion caused by the vagueness of the policy, the phony evidence, shifting positions, fear-mongering, the complexity of the issue and the constant personal attacks against one's critics, confused supporters take the flimsy evidence on faith without checking and others may become convinced because they hope that all that is promised will come true.Another way to identify this trick is to examine the nature of the personal attacks. Since the weak link in such a political strategy is being found out, personal attacks will consistently focus on undermining other's credibility about judging the politicians plans. That is, instead of clarifying one's positions, the politician engages in a never ending battle against those who would do that through misdirection and hyperbole and carefully targeted personal that shift the audience's attention away from the details of the story. Another way to detect a pig in the poker is that as they are forced to shift their position to deflect criticism they become self-contradictory and appear as if they don't understand their own plans. The public is told this is simply a charming human fraility and that the candidate isn't a detail person but a big picture kind of person. A more accurate description would but a big incomplete picture sort of person So does Mr. Romney fit the profile? During the debate did he spend time clarifying his own positions or did he engage in the behavior described above.? Has he presented complete policy plan for the public,journalists, political opponents and experts so they may carefully examine his plans on major issues? Has he allowed others to subject his plan to rigorous independent analysis? For example, has he allowed his health care plan to be examined by the independent CBO? Even Paul Ryan does that. When asked as he provided additional details about his plans or has he claimed he working out a few details that actually are actually crucial for understanding what he really wants to do? Does he have more Pants on Fire lies at Politifact than other politician? Do his plans have any magical elements in it (e.g., do they rely on the magic of the free market)? Instead of explaining his position, does Mr. Romney engage in personal attacks that specifically attempt to undermine his critics credibility and bolster his own? Has he shifted positions on issue or offered phony evidence to support his own incomplete plans? Has he engaged in fear-mongering? Has the press consistently found that his statements about his policies are shifting and self-contradictory?I would argue that Mr. Romney is a pig in poke candidate your social media marketing partner


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+1 # RMDC 2012-10-10 04:51
Yes, good. All political candidates are pigs in pokes these days. You never really know what you will get after they are elected. No one tells the truth.

I would only expect the very worst from a Romney/Ryan presidency. I'm no longer a supporter of Obama but he is a much more decent guy than Romney or Ryan -- at least that is how things appear.
0 # Susan1989 2012-10-22 15:24
If Romney gets elected I fear that he and Ryan...and their friends will be the death knell for this country. I hae never felt this way before about a candidate...exc ept possibly George Bush...whose adninistration was most possibly the beginning of a very dark age. He, Bush, Cheney, and Ryan are all of the same ilk...cruel, sadistic, misogenistic little boys....most with "daddy problems" unleashing their pathology on this country and world. It is most likely that many of the people who are their ardent supporters are much the same...and probably very much resemble those people in history who burned women at the stake, tortured slaves, or destroyed the Native American culture...using God as their excuse. Cruelty and evil always return unless people wake up and become enlightened. I am sure that any survivors of the holocaust could remind us of this. I pray I am wrong.

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