Sunday, November 11, 2007

Karen Hughes And the Marketing War

I ranted and squawked about the decision to give Karen Hughes the job of "Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy." Now that she's resigned, maybe people will get sensible about this.

This is not a marketing problem, despite what our "first CEO president" might think.

It is largely a war of ideas--but pitting ideas against each other is not mere marketing, not mere propaganda. For all their virtues, this is something business men don't understand: that ideas have a value beyond their ability to win you friends, money, and converts. Some ideas are true and some are false. Some are reasonable and some are not. Some are good and some are bad. Our ideas are, in the main (though almost certainly not entirely) better than those of Muslim fundamentalists. This is a matter for inquiry, not salesmanship. There's no reason to stoop to marketing and propaganda when you hold the bulk of the intellectual and moral cards--even if you are motivated only by what's in your interest.

This is the approach typical of people like Bush et. al., however: everything is a sale. The facts and the principles are to be invoked only if it's in your interest to do so. It's all about getting what you want. It is, as others have noted, the postmodern presidency. Want to go to war even if the facts don't support it? Don't knuckle under to those pesky facts! Manage public opinion by "managing" the evidence.

But here in the reality-based community, some of us still think that our ideas can change the world honestly. They have a power to appeal to the inquiring mind--and only those who have lost the faith (or who never really had it) don't realize this.

So let's get serious about the "war" of ideas. Our ideas are better. Let's stop treating this like a marketing campaign. We're not trying to trick people into buying Yugos instead of Toyotas here.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'd expected to find, quite honestly, that Hughes was a complete failure, or at least incompetent. Not so, it seems.

But this insider thinks it's policy, not argument.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Somebody kinda suggests that she's not 100% failure!

This may be the administration's biggest success...

Hughes I intensely dislike. But it's the very idea of this position that's ill-conceived.

Rational persuasion: yes. Propaganda and "marketing": no.

8:20 PM  

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