Who’s Your Daddy?

Want to understand how Republicans frame themselves with voters to win elections in the post-9/11 environment? Well, come to papa.

Linguist George Lakoff explains that Republicans are very disciplined about framing themselves as “strict fathers” of the national family, the kind of figure you want to protect you in a dangerous neighborhood and stop the children from getting soft and dependent. “Wait until your father comes home!”

Meanwhile the Democrats frame themselves as the nurturing mommies. Voters like that the mama Dems have big hearts and mean well, but worry they overindulge the national family and are too soft to protect us from the cold, cruel world.

Yesterday on Meet the Press, there was an interesting example of how disciplined Republicans are about maintaining this tough guy framing. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was being grilled by host Tim Russert about the hypocrisy of cracking down on undocumented workers while employing such workers to do landscaping around, as the Boston Globe put it, “his pink colonial house.”

Naturally, Romney sprung into action to defend his honor. And what was the first thing out of his mouth? A spirited recitation of his 9-point immigration plan? A description of his work as Governor to deal with the problem? An explanation about how difficult it is in the current environment to determine which workers are “legal?”

No, the strict father sat up tall, pulled his shoulders back and responded, “I have to clear up the most egregious error in that article. It said my house was pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you.”

Oh daddy!

– Loveland