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From the Frey playbook

Everyone I'm sure has already heard the story of James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces". The book was touted as being a memoir of Frey's life and his struggle with alcohol, drugs, and crime. The book gained even more fame when it was featured on Oprah Winfrey's book club list, skyrocketing it to best seller status. Then the ugly truth came to light.

Thanks to The Smoking Gun, we now know some of what Frey recounted in the book to be either exaggerated (in the case of his time in jail for example) or merely embellishments (such as the method in which his girlfriend committed suicide). To try to defend his claim, Frey went on Larry King Live, at which point Oprah called in defending the 'emotional truth' of the tale. Oprah later apologized to her viewers, saying she regrets making the statement that made it sound as if the truth did not matter.

The aspect I find most intriguing is the idea of 'emotional truth', maybe because this idea sits well with the way the Bush admin has been running their PR campaign on a variety of topics. Bush, or rather his speechwriters, are adept at using 'feel good terminology' to cloud the issues. This is particularly true when describing events in Iraq (Spreading Democracy, Fighting the enemies of freedom, etc). And yet news comes out on almost a daily basis that seems to reveal a different version of Iraq then the one the President speaks of. Facts on the ground are obscured by the 'emotional truth' of Bush's rhetoric.

Bush also uses another prevailing emotion in the American psyche to gain support: fear. Mentioning 9/11, and the fear and anxiety it invokes, has become the trump card Bush has used to defend many a questionable decision, from invading Iraq to domestic wiretapping without a warrant. Bush and his GOP allies have politicized the 'emotional' aspect of 9/11 quite well and are preparing to do so again as we head into the 2006 midterm elections.

Whether it be 'feel good terminology' or 'fear-mongering', both tactics are designed for one purpose: to quell dissent. Making people feel good or scaring the bejesus out of them makes it less likely they will complain or show dissent on the truly important issues.

But sometimes that 'emotional truth' just needs a good dose of reality.

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