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Best Political Narratives?

shootemwonshootemwon Members Posts: 4,635 ✭✭
edited August 2010 in The Social Lounge
Political narratives are the blend of facts, perceptions, misconceptions, misunderstanding, distortions, exaggerations, as well as some lies, into a simple, easy to follow belief, or set of beliefs, about what's happening in politics recently.

I'll give you a good example of a recent political narrative. This is the narrative that the Obama campaign pushed in the 2007/2008 election:
Barack Obama came from a lower-middle class upbringing and spent much of his early adult years as a community organizer helping depressed and broken inner-city neighborhoods get back on the right track. Obama was elected to the United States Senate in the 2004 election after years of local public service in Chicago. After spending a few years in DC, Obama sees that the need for real change is very serious. Obama has the temperament and leadership needed to put an end to the old way of doing politics. Time and time again, Obama has stood up for the interests of the country, rather than himself. When all major candidates in both parties were supporting the Iraq war, Obama preferred to speak out about what was right, even if that costs political points. 4 years ago, when Barack was just a member of the Illinois General assembly, he never imagined he's be running for President in 2008, but he's a truly fresh face in a while his opponents in both parties seem to just be more of the same.

Of course, narratives need not be true. If you read the example I gave, most of it actually is at least sort of true, but, a trademark of the political narrative is misrepresentation and exaggeration. Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate before being elected to the US senate, and calling his time as a state senatir "public service" is an intentional skim over his his earlier politicial career at a time when he was scoring big points as the "outsider guy". Also, Obama DID oppose the Iraq, but that was also as a State Senator in Illinois. This narratives, and others like it, keep those details vague, as opposing the war as member of congress would have been a much more difficult move at the time.

Narratives can also be negative: In 2008, the GOP (pre-palin dementia) promoted this narrative of Obama: Barack Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, is an impressive addition to the Senate's Democratic office. He's obviously a charismatic, energizing, intelligent young man, however, the office of President is no place for a new up-and-comer to get his feet wet. It would be unwise to make Senator Obama the chief executive of the world's most powerful country, considering he has no executive experience in government or in the private sector. Senator Obama may very well have a bright future ahead of him, but now is not the time to take a gamble on an untested candidate.

But Narratives need not be so comprehensive. While these narratives sound like talking points (because a political candidates' own narrative basically is just that) there are other ones we hear all the time that are very different.

One extremely famous narrative in American politics is "George W. Bush is stupid". While I would not argue that Bush is a great intellectual, I would say that after a few foolish soundbites surfaced from Bush, the media became fixated on finding him saying anything sounding remotely stupid and then hyping the hell out of it. Everyone says dumb things from time to time. We just forge about it cause it's not getting played back all night on national TV. So it's not fair, but because of this narrative, Bush had to deal with every little slip of his tongue being scrutinized as evidence of low intelligence. These type of narratives build upon themselves, because once they're established, everyone is eager to see more of it. People were reaching pretty hard at times to declare a little stutter or mispeak as a Bushism.

Anyway, I picked those narratives as explanations because they're recent and also not that great, but what are you favorites from modern History?

One of my favorites has to be the job Rove did on Kerry in 2004. That was brutal, but impressive. Kerry was a decorated Vietnam vet, yet no one cared because Rove had us all lookin at how he came back home and joined a bunch of 🤬 -hippies, plus he threw away his medals. Then you remember "I voted for it before I voted against it"? Kerry said those ill-fated words during a speech explaining that he supported funding for the troops in Iraq, but had to vote against the bill on final passage as an amendment siphoning funds from Social Security was added to the bill. Though Kerry did switch up his stances on a few matters, in this particular case, he really didn't flip flop at all. But hey, FlipFlopMania '04 was under way.


  • earth two supermanearth two superman ladies please dont fight. E2S is here all night! Members Posts: 17,149 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2010
    the screw job rove did on Kerry was tame compared to the one he did on John McCain back in 2000.
  • shootemwonshootemwon Members Posts: 4,635 ✭✭
    edited August 2010
    the screw job rove did on Kerry was tame compared to the one he did on John McCain back in 2000.

    True, but that was just a sleezy attack, not a narrative. But here's my narrative on John McCain.

    This is a guy who was a mainstream conservative his whole career. Then he ran for President in 2000 and lost to a guy who was more conservative than him, and at that very moment, he decided he was really more of a moderate. Then in 2008 he ran for President again lost to a guy who was more liberal than him, and at that very moment, he decided he was a far right winger.
    John McCain: Portrait of a sore loser
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