The “Big Lie” theory is a well-known propaganda technique. Its basic operating assumption is simple: the bigger and more preposterous a lie, and the more often it is told, the more likely it will be believed. Or, Richard Belzer much less delicately defined the principle:
“If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.”
Bob Cesca posted a great piece last night in the Huffington Post attributing Rick Perry’s success in the polls to his uncanny ability to spew “total crap” with “thunderous gusto.” Cesca notes that Perry’s biggest lie of all is that President Obama’s stimulus package has created “zero” jobs. This is “total crap” because it is a total lie:
“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA, also known as ‘the stimulus’) saved or created 1.3 million to 3.6 million jobs. IHS/Global Insight reported 2.45 million jobs were saved or created. The Macroeconomic Advisers reported 2.3 million jobs were saved or created. And Moody’s Economy reported 2.5 million jobs were saved or created.”
These inconvenient facts are, however, completely irrelevant to Perry. 1 million, 2 million, 3.6 million jobs? So what? Perry will repeat with gusto his “total crap” that “zero” jobs have been created under the Obama Administration because it is a perfect “big lie” that many voters will believe.
And, they will believe it precisely because it is “total crap.” They have been told repeatedly that the Obama Administration is a total economic failure, and that job creation has been non-existent. So, when Perry says over-and-over again that the Administration has created “zero” jobs, they will take it to be true. “It must be true. I have heard it so many times.”
This fits nicely with other “total crap” that defines the debate in the GOP. Even Olympia Snowe (R-Me), often considered a reasonable GOP senator, responded to President Obama’s deficit reduction plan by blaming the national debt solely on supposedly out-0f-control spending:
“we have witnessed not only a large growth in debt over the past decade but a massive acceleration of debt most recently, with $2 trillion in new debt added just in the last two years. Clearly, spending is the problem, so why would more taxes be the solution?”
Political Correction countered Snowe’s assertion by publishing this simple, elegant chart that it called “reality”:
Although “reality” shows that the “massive acceleration” of debt us due substantially to decreased government collections — particularly during the recession of 2008 and 2009 — the GOP’s mantra will be the “total crap” that “out-of-control” spending is the cause of spiraling debt. The basic point being, of course, that increasing “collections” — “more taxes — must be avoided. Large swaths of voters will believe it because they have heard it so many times. The Big Lie becomes the Big Truth.
More than 80 years ago, Edward Bernays, the “father” of public relations, wrote a book called Propaganda, whose main thesis is that:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”
Bernays believed that this “manipulation . . . of the masses” was a good thing because it was the only way to organize “vast numbers of human beings” and ensure the smooth operation of society. He later wrote that “[t]he engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process.”
The GOP seeks to engineer consent by repeating “total crap” about the economy over-and-over again until enough voters believe it to be “total truth.” They wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. They wouldn’t say it over-and-over again it wasn’t totally true.