JEFFREY FELDMAN'S FRAMESHOP
For this morning's Washington Post, Glenn Kessler has penned a dispassionate, point-for-point debunking of Bush's State of the Union Address.
I know it's hard to believe, but...just about every single point in Bush's speech was false. Education? False (quack!). Jobs? False (quack!). Foreign policy? False (quaaaaack!). Budget deficit? False (quack, quack!).
We all knew he was going to lie, he lied, then the press reported the lies as lies. All of it adds up to a crispy plate of irrelevance. Today's special: Lame Duck of President, with a side of George W. Bush dipping sauce.
But still, I wondered how exactly this "duck" frame was taking shape around Bush in the press?
So...I woke up this morning and fired off a quick Google search of "Bush+duck." The following is a framing chronicle of Bush's final descent into the plum sauce of political irrelevance...
Dead, Lame and Other Ducks
A little over 900 returns came back today my Google search of "Bush+duck."
None of the top returns were from first tier sources, meaning only that Big Media is still a bit reluctant to admit that Bush is now swimming in duck sauce.
What we see from the "duck" metaphor in most cases is an extended discussion of political irrelevance--but we get some delicious writing as well, including some crispy comparisons to other items on the historic menu of Republican poultry.
Has he gone soft? Chucked his tax-slashing, right-wing philosophy and become a big-government liberal? Hardly.
What has happened is that Mr. Bush is facing the political reality of a lame-duck presidency with an approval rating vying for the bargain-basement lows of Richard Nixon in the midst of the Watergate scandal.
Here the idea of a "duck" is equated with the "lows" of approval ratings. A lamed duck, in other words, is a duck that flies no more.
Beyond not flying, Freeman describes Bush as a "bargain-basement low"--suggesting that he is more akin to an old duck that fell off the cart in the stock room of a grocery store, and now sits all moldy and disgusting floor.
Muted applause welcomed the lame duck as he waddled to the podium. He looked scared, his home field for six years was no more. A skeptical American audience waited for his grand vision of America to roll across the teleprompter; but once again, he did not disappoint in being disappointing.
Wisnewski's image of the waddler-in-chief defines Bush as weak, instantly deboning all the White House spin about "boldness" from the President. "Waddling" in this case is a metaphor for disappointment, irrelevance, side-dish.
Bush: Despite the talk of "big things," there are definite signs of lowered aspirations as the lameness of his duckhood quacks. Cuba, Belarus and Burma? What's that, the Axis of Pretty Bad? What are the consequences of failure in Burma?
Sir lame of duckhood, indeed. Here the vagueness of Bush's so-called proposals are compared to a winged duck to drive home the point that Bush's once cripsy jingoism has gone limp and greasy.
Writing before the speech in the Christian Science Monitor, Linda Feldmann enters the frame of Bush as a "duck" by talking about a lower-fat version of the President's agenda ("For State of the Union 2007, A Leaner Agenda"):
After all, a president who sets his sights modestly risks the dreaded label "lame duck." But after six years in office, most two-term presidents have already rolled out their biggest initiatives. The second half of second terms are more about completing unfinished business rather than starting something new. And it is debatable whether the bully pulpit is all it's cracked up to be, especially for an unpopular president.
Here the idea of a "lean" duck is used to describe Bush's attempt to put forward a diet version of his policies--Neo-Con lunatic lite, perhaps. Unpopularity requires of Bush, apparently, that he be easier on the national liver.
Summing up some reactions from sitting lawmakers, the Desert Sun (Palm Springs) landed this quote from Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), cautiously speculating on Bush's quackaliciousness ("What Local Lawmakers had to Say"):
This is a president who has lost a lot of credibility. The speech was about one-half foreign policy - namely Iraq - and the other half on domestic issues...
Bottom line: I found that this was a very limited speech and that perhaps for the first time, that maybe this president is becoming a lame duck president. I found it very disappointing."
Hmm. "Maybe," Senator? Oh, he's gone all ducky, alright. Last night we saw duck become the House special. Today, it's popular with home delivery.
Dead, lame, limp, waddling, weak, lean--and limited. The frame defining Bush as a "duck" is quickly becoming a lunchtime, snack time--anytime favorite.JEFFREY FELDMAN'S FRAMESHOP
Jeffrey Feldman's new book on framing and progressive politics is available for pre-order: Framing the Debate (in stores April 1, 2007). Support progressive publishing: reserve your copy right now online.
© 2007 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop.