A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 08, 2010
“He who frames the issue wins the debate”

"He who defines/frames the issue/argument/question/debate wins the argument/debate” means that the side that strikes first and defines the issue usually wins. The other side is left to playing defense. The political saying is of unknown authorship; pro-life activist Randall Terry is sometimes given credit, but there is no evidence that he was the first to use it.

Forms of the saying date to at least the 1980s.


Brainy Quote
He who frames the question wins the debate.
Randall Terry

New York (NY) Times
How Dukakis Can Overcome Bush’s ‘Slur du Jour’
By Mark Green; Mark Green is president of the Democracy Project, a public policy institute in New York City, and a political commentator on CNN.
Published: September 17, 1988
(...)
In the era of sound-bite politics, there is a Gresham’s Law of News: The candidate who initiates the debate wins the debate.

Google News Archive
16 October 1988, Mohave Daily Miner (Kingman, AZ), “Voters ‘solidified’ following debate, McCain says” by brian Johnson, pg. A1, col. 5:
“He who frames the debate, wins the debate,” McCain said.

20 October 1991, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Male role models appear in anti-porn billboards,” pg. B3:
“You’ve heard the saying, ‘He who frames the debate wins the debate.’ Well, we have let the sex shops frame the debate,” Cooper said.

Google Books
Social Welfare Policy:
A research and action strategy

By W. J. Heffernan
New York, NY: Longman
1992
Pg. 15:
He who defines the debate wins the debate.

Google Groups: rec.games.chess
Newsgroups: rec.games.chess
From: (Will Bralick)
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1992 15:27:02 GMT
Local: Wed, Sep 2 1992 10:27 am
Subject: Re: Boycott

He who frames the question wins the debate.

Google Groups: talk.politics.misc
Newsgroups: talk.politics.misc
From: (Matt Brown)
Date: 25 Sep 92 19:20:15 GMT
Local: Fri, Sep 25 1992 2:20 pm
Subject: Issues and Non-Issues in a Debate

Ted Kreuger writes:
>Please allow me to explain why “non-issues” may in fact be issues.
>Someone famous said that he who defines the issues wins the debate.
>I was taught this in high school debate class.
>This is why conservatives do not allow liberals to get away with
>this “non-issue” thing.  Obviously draft-dodging is an issue,
>else it would have dissolved by now.

Google Groups: biz.clarinet.sample
Newsgroups: clari.usa.hot.election.dole, clari.usa.gov.politics, clari.news.issues.reproduction, biz.clarinet.sample
Followup-To: biz.clarinet.sample
From: (UPI / MICHAEL KIRKLAND)
Date: 1996/08/07
Subject: Coalition attacks Republicans on abortion

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spoke at Wednesday’s news conference from Phoenix via closed circuit TV.
(...)
“Whoever defines the issue wins the debate,” Feldt said.

Google Books
Political Correctness:
A response from the cultural Left

By Richard Feldstein
University of Minnesota Press
1997
Pg. 188:
The one who frames the issue usually wins the debate, and neoconservatives have been particularly successful at framing the issues.

14 February 2001, Hartford (CT) Courant, “State’s spending cap becomes grist for political mill” by Dan Haar, pg. A4:
“I’ve been around long enough to know that he who defines the issue wins the debate,” Rowland said.

Google Books
Issuesmanagement : anticiperen op de publieke opinie
By Eliaan Schoonman
Alphen aan den Rijn [etc.] : Kluwer
2003
Pg. 134:
Public Affairs: he who defines the issue, wins the debate

Boston (MA) Globe
Abortion foes won by framing debate
By Joan Vennochi, 10/23/2003
(...)
That is just another way of saying, whatever side frames the issue, wins the debate.

Along the Grey Path
Thursday, November 15, 2007
He who asks the questions … answers the questions.
Libdrone and MadameX asked the question: What’s the biggest obstacle to electing the right presidential candidate? In this age of quick mass media, I believe it’s a lazy and sensationalistic press, eager to be led. Whoever frames an issue wins the debate.

Smart Girl Politics
Information gathered from the TEA Party Convention
Posted by Kathy Gibson Boatman on February 10, 2010 at 1:27pm
(...)
The leadership institute also taught, “He who defines the issue wins the debate.”

Google Groups: Common Ground NYC
From: “Jeffery J. Smith”
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2010 10:21:47 -0700
Local: Fri, Jun 25 2010 12:21 pm
Subject: Re: on their turf of ours?

Like Confucius said, “he who defines the terms, wins the debate.”

Florida Baptist Witness
Point of View: Back-pedaling on Equal Access
CLS case ‘serious setback for freedom of expression’

by MICHAEL K. WHITEHEAD
Article Date: Jul 7, 2010
(...)
As the old saying goes, he who frames the issue wins the debate.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, July 08, 2010 • Permalink