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Letters to the Editor

Saturday September 16, 2000

George W. Bush should be held accountable  



Just because George W. Bush cannot pronounce “subliminal” (he says “sumbliminable”) does not relieve him of the ultimate responsibility for advertisements supporting his candidacy. Indeed, what are we to conclude about a candidate’s ability to run the federal government if he can’t even run his campaign organization? 

The use of psycho-mechanical techniques to manipulate people violates Federal Communication Commission regulations. When such manipulations are used in the political process it is worse than a simple crime, it is an attack on our democracy. 

Subliminal advertising is intended to convey messages without the receiver’s awareness. This is not constitutionally-protected free speech. This is election fraud. 

This outrage must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This type of political advertising is not just a smirky game. If the reception of candidates’ messages forces one to accept the risk of subliminal manipulation, then the public has lost the unfettered access to information upon which our democracy depends. 

The argument that the effectiveness of subliminal ads is uncertain, does not mitigate this heinous offense. 

The fact is the Republican National Committee spent $ 2.5 million to run the ads. That amount of money says they believed the ads would be effective.  

Their intention was clear: it was to mess with people’s minds. They spent the money to try to control the viewer’s attitude about Bush, not on the basis of his ideas, achievements, or even emotional appeal, but through sinister, subconscious manipulation, undetectable by the viewer.  

Not only does this undermine democracy, it subverts the integrity of each individual’s human rights. 

Bush’s response that, “one frame out of 900 hardly makes a conspiracy” reeks of denial and obfuscation, the personal characteristics that we don’t need in a president.  

This is a man who will not, or can not, take responsibility for his actions. His statement may also indicate that he is too dull-witted to understand the concept. Subliminal messages are a few, quick zingers designed to be received without one’s conscious awareness.  

If there were many such frames, they wouldn’t be subliminal, would they? Is Bush that stupid? Or, is he trying to cover up as his father did during the Iran Contra scandal when the senior Bush said, “I was out of the loop.”? 

Government bureaucrats are ultimately accountable to the public, through oversight of the President and the U.S. Congress. Corporate bureaucrats are accountable only to the accountants. 


Bruce Joffe