Friday night on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” host Bill Maher interviewed Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz, author of Words that Work: It’s Not what You Say, but What People Hear, a book that details how winning in politics increasingly depends upon how your frame your argument and what words you use.
Welcoming Luntz to the show, Maher said, “Okay, Frank, it’s widely known that you’re evil. You’re evil because you think of words to get stupid people to vote against their interests.”
Maher then ran some words from Wednesday’s debate past Luntz to see if they were his inventions, “middle income” voters instead of “middle class” and one of Romney’s key phrases, “trickle down government.”
Luntz said that regardless of party leaning, it should be clear to anyone that there’s a problem in this country and that people are under a great deal of economic strain. He described people surveyed by his polling company as sometimes breaking down in tears during interviews, “whether they’re Democrats or Americans, Bill.”
On the subject of whether recent job numbers are a boon to President Barack Obama, Luntz countered that there are still “23 million people out of work.”
“Children and retired people,” said Maher.
“There are 23 million people who are unemployed, underemployed or who have given up work,” insisted Luntz.
If you’re going to accept that the unemployment rate is at 7.8 percent, Luntz said, then you have to also factor in the 400,000 people he said have given up on working in that month.
The conversation heated up, however, when Romney’s comments about cutting funding to PBS came up.
“The moderator did ask him (Romney) one good question when he said, ‘What are you going to cut?’ and Romney said, ‘You know, I’d cut Big Bird. I’d cut PBS,” said Maher, trying to get Luntz to admit that the suggestion on Romney’s part was specious.
Luntz cut in, saying that Maher “did a good weed joke before. You need some right now.”
Maher pressed on, asking if Luntz would agree that with an informed voting population, Romney would never be able to make such ridiculous assertions, it’s low-information voters “who think all our money goes to PBS, Solyndra, foreign aid and birth control pills.”
PBS, Maher pointed out, is a minuscule amount of the federal budget. Luntz agreed, but said that there are two kinds of undecided voters in the U.S., ones that reject both parties. The second set are “low-information, unaffiliated” voters. He said that what the American people want is for the two sides to stop bickering and get things done.
Luntz then posited that the reason nothing gets done in Washington is because the President refuses to work with Congress, a notion that Maher scoffed at and dismissed out of hand, saying there’s no way that the president hates the Republicans in Congress more than they have shown that they hate him.
Watch the video, embedded below via Meidaite: