Candidate Mitt Romney found out the other day that whatever you say may be turned into a Micro-Script, whether you want it to or not. The people who hear it decide if it has that magic, repeatable quality that makes it a Micro-Script. You don’t. All of a sudden, you’re looking down the barrel of this weapon from the wrong end. Case in point: Romney says “Corporations are people, too.” His enemies couldn’t have been handed a more compact, concise little package to illustrate how they think Mr. Romney thinks if it had been written by a Hollywood scriptwriter. I not only saw it on every news channel, I started hearing my Democrat friends saying it within hours. That’s a Micro-Script all right.
I know he didn’t mean it that way. He meant corporate money is ultimately distributed to people who own it. But the hecklers in the audience heard an entire negative story in that short sentence. To them, it triggered a tale about corporate greed and the attitude of a candidate who got wealthy buying companies and down-sizing their employees to enrich a very few people–all in just four words. Once the Script is out there, it has the power to get away and to take on a power all its own. Remember when John Kerry foolishly said, “I was before it before I was against it?” He became “The flip flopper” and lost the election for that. And when George Bush I said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Same thing.
Remember our definition: It’s a Micro-Script if it tells a story or a piece or one in a few short words that people like to repeat. The politicians who win today, understand the flip-side, flash fire danger of Micro-Scripts and do everything they can to create story bites that control of their message, and re-frame the other guy so he or she loses control of his or hers. It’s a scary game of fighting fire with fire. But there’s no other choice in today’s incendiary political game.