You have convince the Iranians to give up the bomb. Make North Korea make nice with the South. Convince Assad to go quietly. Diplomacy is like that–tough negotiations with even tougher nations and diplomats. One key to winning the negotiation is framing.
For example, one key question that both Dems and Repubs are messaging in their own ways is a particular answer to the following question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Framing entails setting the terms of the debate by using the message or response that best elicits a more favorable response from the audience. Think of it as manipulation-lite, a way to lead the audience to your already determined conclusion.
It doesn’t always work, and can be tricky to claim to master. But it is an essential skill–and something that William Saletan advises as a key for Obama to win.
As Republicans press that question, Democrats are fumbling for answers. The Democrats want to say yes, but they don’t want to offend voters who are unhappy or angry about the economy. The trick is to frame the question and answer it in a way that fits public opinion. Here’s a guide to what the polls say.