OK, now, quickly and with no deliberation, tell me what word first pops into your head when you hear the word "Nixon"?
Really? Are you sure? Can't be! The word is "crook"?
Nixon has been in the very highest levels of American political establishment for a long time. He gave a lot of speaches. He participated in debates. Most Americans heard him speak on numerous occasions. Yet, his most famous sentence is "I am not a crook".
A lot of time passed since then, and you may think that it is, perhaps, historical perspective that brought "crook" into your head at the mention of "Nixon". But, he spoke that sentence when he was already resigning. People who heard him say that sentence immediately recognized what it meant. The word "crook" elicited in all listeners' minds an image - a frame in Lakoff's sense - of a crook, perhaps Captain Hook from the original Disney production of Peter Pan, with his crooked nose, and crooked feather on a crooked hat, a crooked hook in place of his hand and a crooked piece of wood in place of his leg, and a crooked heart....
What Nixon did is put the word "I" and the word "crook" right up next to each other. The word "not" is a feeble pleading, not registering in your unconsciousness. For all practical purposes, Nixon said "I am a crook" and he will forever be remebered as one.
As Lakoff teaches, negating a frame invokes that same frame - a big no-no in politics. If you say "X is not true" you are reminding the audience of X.
Compared to the current GOP mafia in charge of the country, Nixon was a little wayward lamb. These guys are REAL crooks. They got their training in Nixon's Administration and they are ruling the world with absolutely no scruples. And these guys are really good at framing. They have Luntz, they have Gingrich, they have Norquist - all masters of Orwellian language use.
This is why I think they are in deep trouble. Their Talking Points defending Rove are ridiculously bad. They are incapable of doing anything better than NEGATING the charges.
Whenever they say that Rove did not lie, they put together words "Rove" and "lie" next to each other, connecting them, building a frame within the minds of the audience that Rove has something to do with lying.
Whenever they say that Rove is not a traitor, audience remembers "Rove" and "traitor", not "not".
Whenever they say that Rove is not a spy for Islamist terrorists, ....see above.
Whenever they say that Rove did not put the security of the USA in jeopardy, ....see above.
This is why we have to force them to repeat those talking points over and over again. Make them dig themselves deeper. Keep repeating that Rove is a liar, a traitor, a spy, a scumbag, and force them to feebly deny it. Every time they say that Rove is not a liar, the American people will get a little more persuaded that he is a liar.
The least we can do is force Bush to ditch Rove in order to save himself and his Administration from investigation and possible impeachment. But if they dump him, Rove is scumbag enough to exert revenge and tell all. A lose-lose situation for Bush. Keep hammerin'!