Obama’s “I Am Not a Crook” Moment

Obama Says America Is Not a Banana Republic and We Have to Pay Our Bills …  What Do Experts Say?

America’s top liberal communications expert is George Lakoff.  Professor Lakoff (who we’ve previously interviewed) points out that when a politician says “Not X”, people usually think of X:

I wrote a book called, Don’t Think of an Elephant! The title made a basic point: Negating a frame activates that frame. If you activate the other side’s frame, you just help the other side, as Nixon found out when he said, “I am not a crook,” which made people think of him as a crook.

President Obama just said:

This is the United States of America — we’re not some banana republic, this is not a deadbeat nation, we don’t run out on our tab.


We can’t just not pay our bills.”

What Lakoff and other political psychologists explain is that what most Americans – and people all over the world – will hear is:

America is a banana republic, a deadbeat nation, which can’t pay its bills.

Of course, there is some basis for accusing the U.S. of becoming a banana republic … a deadbeat which can’t pay its bills.

But the focus of this post is on Obama’s Nixon moment … invoking the exact image which he is trying to avoid.

Obama has failed to learn the most basic concept from the psychology of politics.

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  • wunsacon

    – Corruption as far as the eye can see.
    – Immense wealth in 400 families.
    – People “disappear” without trial.
    – Bread for the peasants but they’re trying to reduce that!
    – Import labor after charging usurious rates to “educate” the locals.

    In other words: “you have got to be kidding me!”

    • Honest Harry’s Used Cars

      “- Bread for the peasants but they’re trying to reduce that!”

      OMG! Have you lost your humanitarian marbles? Just what the hell are you talking about???? BREAD FOR THE PEASANTS????

      There should be a WEIGHT test for food stamps! The federal government is giving food stamps to people that weigh over 300 lbs! No one who is getting food stamps is starving. These food stamp people are sitting around in front of their flat panel TV’s guzzling Mountain Dew and eating pepperoni pizza delivered from the local pizza parlor seven days a week! It’s a scam. 50 million Americans are playing the welfare game SO THEY DON’T HAVE TO GO OUT AND WORK!

      And you and I are paying for it with food stamp induced inflation.

      • wunsacon

        >> And you and I are paying for it with food stamp induced inflation.

        The humanitarian “food-stamp induced” inflation is orders of magnitude smaller than:
        – FIRE-induced inflation;
        – MIC-induced inflation;
        – Big-Ed-induced inflation;
        – lack of antitrust enforcement in telecom (hello ma bell again?) and other industries, which gives you “less value for your money”.
        >> There should be a WEIGHT test for food stamps! The federal government
        is giving food stamps to people that weigh over 300 lbs!

        Because protein is too expensive, they eat carbs / crap.

        Want to cut their weight? Cut subsidies for growing corn!

  • joblo

    thats assuming him saying this is accidental. that he made a mistake. …doubtful.

  • jadan

    These Republicans are collectively insane. What the world hears is: “The US government is dysfunctional.” The comparison with Nixon is not apt.

    • blebs

      jadan you have to realize that there isn’t Rep/Dem or even parties for that matter. They are all one in the same. They simply play good cop/bad cop.

    • Keri Green

      No Jadan your the one insane because you be leave a man that has lied to the Americans since he took office. GET OFF THE COOL AIDE OBAMABOT GIRL!

  • Washington76

    Canadian billionaire businessman Ned Goodman predicts the end of the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency. He predicts the transition out of the U.S. Dollar will become, “…quite ugly.” He delivered the lecture at Cambridge House’s Toronto Resource Investment Conference 2013 on Thursday, September 12, 2013


    Please clink this link instead of picture of Bush!

  • Sooriamoorthy

    Obama would make anybody think Nixon was a Saint.

  • Drdetroitdanchap

    Now that he has stated “I am not a CROOK” —- he can RESIGN !!!!

    YEAH !!!!!!!! Don’t let the door hit ya in the ass …… MORON.

  • Goat_on_a_rope

    Yeah, I have to agree that your headline, and the comparison it makes, is incredibly inappropriate and misleading. Anyone hearing “Nixon I am not a crook moment” is likely to assume the president has just significantly denied some serious individual crime personally attributed to him. That’s not what happened here, at all, but the title of this article is inviting people to have that idea stuck in their head.

    So, well, I think most of your articles are great, but this one is irresponsibly-named and almost ironic in that it violates basic psychological-political savvy just as much as it accuses the president of doing so.

  • Don Robertson

    Obama’s not a crook. He’s a politician, just like Nixon and Huey Long too.

    Here’s a brand-new YouTube music-presentation describing the sort of person who becomes a politician. Do it for me -by yours truly. Enjoy-


  • Voice of Reason

    I have another problem with this post. Reality is not
    what we would like people to think it is. Reality is what is – and the United
    States IS a deadbeat nation! Arguably this situation developed by historical
    accident – a combination of the nations of Old Europe snatching defeat from the
    jaws of a possible victory in the struggle for subsistence following more
    than a century of Industrial Revolution and incompetence and arrogance of the
    U.S.ruling class in presiding over the economic and political ruble left in the
    wake World Wars I and II.

    But if the United States
    became a deadbeat nation by ‘accident’, it continues to improve upon its status
    of hopeless indebtedness by design; specifically by the design of an
    monetary which permits the nation with the biggest markets AND
    military to insure the rest of the world will continue to accept the debt it is
    creating. Read all about it in Dr. Michael Hudson’s “Super Imperialism”. What
    is destroying the US economy is the same thing that
    brought the British and before them the Spanish empires low – mistaking money,
    which is really debt, for wealth.

    The Spanish apparently presumed
    there would always be New World natives to
    plunder and never really attempted to build the means to provide for
    themselves. The British started down the right path but lost sight of what
    constitutes wealth in a post-feudal industrial civilization. (Industry – go
    figure!) They assumed it was their money which their bankers and financiers
    could multiply endlessly through the miracles of fractional reserve banking and
    ‘financial innovation’.

    So to bring this story up to date, we
    have a country which beat the British at their own game by developing its
    industrial and public infrastructure deciding that making things is too much
    work. Instead, it has decided to revert to the Spanish model of empire with one
    important twist: instead of sending armies to take other nations’ money, it
    occasionally finds it necessary to send its armies to insure that other nations
    will accept it’s, i.e. US, money.

    P.S. If you have been reading
    carefully, you may have been left wondering ‘if money isn’t wealth,
    what is?’
    Take a look at Frederick Soddy’s “Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt”, second
    edition if you can find it. Or there is the redoubtable Dr. Hudson’s
    “America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815
    – 1914: The Neglected American School of Political Economy”. If you are one of
    those people who like to go directly to the section of books that reveals how
    things end – or in this case, i.e. the once mighty U.S. economy,

  • bendyball

    Remember when he said “I am not Dick Cheney”?