Remember the summer of 2011, when the left seemed to be losing its patience with Barack Obama? Weakened by his politically inept handling of the debt-ceiling confrontation, the president seemed lost. The criticism of him, as we noted at the time, was that he had failed to tell “a story the American people were waiting to hear–and needed to hear,” as one Drew Westen put it. The word “narrative” got bandied about a lot.
Well, plus ça change. Once again Obama is floundering about, this time trying to divert attention from a series of scandals, including one that calls into question the legitimacy of his re-election. The president is so lost that, as PJMedia’s Bridget Johnson notes, press secretary Jay Carney admits his boss has been forced to resort to celestial navigation: “Carney said Obama will focus on ‘what the North Star is when it comes to moving our economy forward.’ ”
Wow, talk about polarizing.
One thing that was weird about the 2011 demands for “stories” and “narratives” is that they came largely from journalists or other professional writers–that is, from people who make a living by telling stories. You would think a journalist who sees the need for a narrative would do his job and write one instead of leaving it to the politicians.
This time around, Obama seems to have taken a cue from his 2011 critics. Whereas in 2011 he waited until August and September to start giving dreadful, overhyped speeches “on the economy,” this time he started in July. Accordingly, this time he and his 2011 critics are on the same page. What’s striking is how boring that page is to read–or, to put it another way, how bad most contemporary journalists are at telling a story.
“President Obama said reporters praise his economic proposals as ‘great’ and tell him they are ‘all good ideas,’ ” TheHill.com notes in a report on yesterday’s speech. No doubt the guys at the Korean Central News Agency say similar things about Kim Jong-un’s ideas, although one is more inclined to question the latter’s sincerity as opposed to their intelligence.