Monday, May 08, 2006

Al Kamen: USDA's talking points on Iraq

Washington Post columnist Al Kamen this morning:
Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.
The funniest part of the column is an attachment that USDA officials are supposed to use as a template, showing how easy it is to change any speech topic to a commentary on our success in Iraq.

Here is a general all-purpose transition:
Several topics I'd like to talk about today -- Farm Bill, trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu, animal ID -- but before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask about... progress in Iraq.
Here is an example for use by a USDA official who might be giving a talk about civil rights in the administration of U.S. agricultural programs:
So, before I begin talking about the civil rights climate at USDA, I'd like to address the situation in another nation that is just now forging the path to democracy.
Or, what if an official needs to give a speech about the productivity of American agriculture? No problem:
But, before I begin discussing the productivity of American agriculture, I'd like to take a moment to talk about a nation that is just beginning to build its own agricultural production.

Iraq is part of the 'fertile crescent' of Mesopotamia. It is there, in around 8,500 to 8,000 B.C., that mankind first domesticated wheat....
Here is the transition for a speech on U.S. food aid overseas (links added):
Thanks to the work of [Private Voluntary Organizations] like Visions in Action, Techno Serve, and the World Council of Credit Unions, the program is helping farmers in Liberia, Honduras, and Sri Lanka. And USDA-donated corn and soybean meal is helping to revitalize the Iraqi poultry industry. This is the kind of work that rebuilds livelihoods, lives, and nations. And it contributes to the Global War on Terror.
I am sure these organizations will be proud of the credit they get in these speeches. Let us know in the comments if you witness any of this public communication strategy in action.

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