The Narrative

Controlling the Narrative:

Or, not.

The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.

Majority supports Arizona on immigration law -- actually, in spite of the President personally attacking the state and its citizens, 51% think the law "is about right" and another 9% thinks it "doesn't go far enough." That's 60% in support of these or stronger measures. 36% think it goes too far.

Meanwhile, the Post has "storylines to watch" from today's elections. That's an interesting concept, but it's true: we all craft stories all the time. Storytelling is one of the arts, and arts are what makes us human: the fact that we make art wherever we go, and use it to define meaning and answer questions for ourselves that other kinds of creatures never ask.

Sometimes that gets missed; but it's true all the same. So of course we have "narratives" and "storylines" in politics -- even in things as disconnected as an oil rig here, and a special election there. To some degree these things all converge in the White House, but only because we have decided to tell the story that way. If we had made a different decision, an age ago, the White House would not now be in a position to consolidate so much power. They can because we have come to tell stories that make them the reflex point for all these disconnected things; and if they are to be held responsible, isn't it easy to argue that they obviously therefore must be allotted the power to control whatever events for which they're being held responsible?

That's worth thinking about. We should tell a different kind of story: about how this or that event should be considered on its own terms; and if we mention the White House, it should be to underline the fact that the affair is none of their business. Unless, of course, it's a delegated Article II power -- in which case, it certainly is.

No comments: