Frank Luntz is depressed. It isn't easy being a conservative messaging guru in an era where Obamacanism has brainwashed the electorate into a vicious cycle of government dependency. It's so disheartening, in fact, that Luntz can't even console himself with all the doodads in his $6 million L.A. mansion.
If American conservativsm were Slytherin, Frank Luntz would be its tenured professor of the dark arts. His specialty is turning bullshit into gold. He invented Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America." He made the estate tax a "death tax." He made global warming sound more benign as "climate change." He taught Republicans to use the words "safer, cleaner, and healthier" when referring to environment-killing oil drilling (or "energy exploration," as he calls it). He's so fucking Orwellian that he once redefined Orwellian-speak, live on the radio, as a positive "without any pejorative whatsoever."
But in a hilarious, deep profile for The Atlantic this week, Molly Ball explains that Luntz is burned out on politics and wondering what to do with his life. Is it because he's realized the moral poverty of his semantical manipulations? How his cultural marionette show has turned conservatism into a flat-earth, tea-party simulacrum of itself? No, dammit! It's because those dirty Democratic mind-melders are so damned good:
"You should not expect a handout," he tells me. "You should not even expect a safety net..."We have now created a sense of dependency and a sense of entitlement that is so great that you had, on the day that he was elected, women thinking that Obama was going to pay their mortgage payment, and that's why they voted for him," he says. "And that, to me, is the end of what made this country so great."
"Luntz's work has always been predicated on a sort of populism," Ball writes of the Oxford PhD in politics and Capitol Hill Club fixture who "has talking-head contracts with both CBS and Fox News" and "boasts that he speaks to at least one Fortune 500 CEO every day." Sadly, he can't seem to find the right environment in which to tap his populist-bone these days, even after four solid tries:
Before moving to Las Vegas this month, he spent most of his free time in a $6 million mansion in Los Angeles crammed with American political artifacts and politically themed decor. It also has a bowling alley. Luntz's house in Northern Virginia is similarly crammed, but with pop-culture collectibles. (He also keeps an apartment in New York City.)...
When he's at home in Los Angeles, The Newsroom is the high point of Luntz's week. He turns off his phone and gets a plate of spaghetti bolognese and a Coke Zero and sits in front of his 85-inch television, alone in his 14,000-square-foot palace. "That's as good as it gets for me," he says.
Deep and dark and dark and deep is the soul of a man struggling to find meaning in his life at one of his four manses in major metropolises. Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies picked up by the deluxe dish package feeding his 85-inch television, Frank Luntz speaks for you?
But Ball is determined to bring Luntz out of his dark, contemplative ennui:
I tell him it sounds like he's going through something very real, very human. "I am nothing if not human," he says, breaking into a grin. "I'm super-human. I'm a human-and-one-fifth. My God, if I'm not careful, I'll have to go not to the big and tall but the big and bigger store!"
This is a man on the brink. A man with a tenuous Kierkegaardian hold on his sense of self, of purpose, of who will provide him with his NFL playoff skybox seats. This is what you have wrought, Entitled America! Where will we be when all of our amoral political tacticians have liberalism-fueled existential crises? I fear we will know soon enough. When you look into the asshole, the asshole also looks into you.
[Photo credit: AP]