me begin by saying I have no money. I am not famous,
I do not belong to a political party and I have never
held public office. My platform will be, quite simply,
about telling stories. You see, I'm convinced that
politicians have a lot in common with novelists. They
just love telling stories.
Hemingway said something about fiction writers being
good liars. Perhaps apropos, but politicians usually
do not write books like "The Sun Also Rises."
They tell stories not just to entertain us but also
to make sure that we will know how to think and behave
after 9/11, George W. Bush began telling the American
people stories. He said that in a faraway land lived
an evil ogre who was plotting to destroy the United
States. This ogre was just like Hitler, Stalin, Castro,
Mao and a few others all rolled into one. He had something
to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center,
he was a psychotic terrorist, he partied with other
terrorists, he plotted attacks on America with terrorists,
he bought terrorists new sneakers, he even allowed
them to swim in his pool.
to Mr. Bush, I recalled waking in the night when I
was a child. I could feel the bogey man. He was in
the closet, he was under my bed, he was about to sink
his fangs into my neck and suck the life out of me.
G.W. started telling stories, I knew that, once upon
a time, Saddam Hussein had lurked in the dark in my
room, waiting to rip out my heart just because I was
day, Mr. Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
He was dressed up like a jet pilot. The war in Iraq,
he told the world, was over. The United States had
prevailed. Democracy would soon rise from the ashes
of bombed out Iraqi homes, Iraqis would soon shower
their liberators with love, the Middle East would
soon see the Bush-light, all of the world's terrorists
would soon be smoked out of their holes, all of evil
outlaws would soon bite the dust.
course George W. did not say all this while he was
pretending to be a fighter pilot. His story that day
was rather short. America invaded, America fought,
America prevailed and America would always prevail.
often asked why so many people seem to adore George
W. Bush. Simple, I say. It's because he's a good storyteller.
He doesn't just stand there like John Kerry, blinking
as though he's trying to remember his lines. No, George
gets into the narrative.
shouts, he points, he scoffs, he ridicules. When he
says that the United States is safer now that Saddam
is behind bars, he leans over the podium and crams
those words right into the adoring crowd's face. When
he says that his party stands for values, he belts
it out like a rap singer.
go wild when Mr. Bush starts telling stories because,
let's face it, he's a natural-born entertainer. G.W.
tells a yarn the way a kid lies about stealing from
the cookie jar. He puts his heart and soul into the
tale. He chomps, hisses, growls, moans and laughs.
The crowd gets hopping to the sound of the tale and
George rides right along with them, straight to the
John Kerry and his new sidekick, Senator John Edwards,
are doing their best to become better storytellers.
They like to tell a story about having been duped
by Mr. Bush, the CIA and possibly the evil ogre in
job, they insist, was to listen to storytellers who
had heard stories about the most horrible, wicked,
evil man who ever lived on Earth. They listened to
these stories, and they apparently talked with other
men and women who, prominent politicians themselves,
appreciated the art of story telling. And so, tricked
into believing Mr. Bush and friends' narrative, John
and John voted for the war.
voted to send young men and women to kill and die
in Iraq because, they keep telling us, they believed
that Saddam Hussein was about to develop terrible
weapons that he would then drop on American towns
and cities, killing millions of innocent people.
to G.W., Kerry and Edwards are amateurs. Like the
resident in the White House, they tell the same stories
over and over. But they lack what psychologists call
"effect." They need to put more feeling
into their claims that they represent the common man
because, truth be told, they were wooed by Mr. Bush's
stories that hundreds of thousands of common men and
women urgently needed to be sent to the killing fields
I was a boy, my mother used to tell me stories. Then,
when I had children of my own I read them stories
and sometimes made up stories of my own.
I lying? Of course not. My children knew that Jack
really didn't climb the bean stalk, gather a basket
of golden eggs and then chop the bean stalk down,
killing the evil giant that wanted his eggs back.
They didn't care whether my stories were true because
they liked living in their imaginations.
wasn't running for office when my children were young;
therefore, I didn't have to be concerned about things
such as real-life ogres.
I wish that I could just appear on the Larry King
show and tell entertaining yarns, but I have a responsibility
now to do more than amuse my loyal supporters. I must
persuade them to believe that when I say, "war
is peace; ignorance is strength; freedom is slavery."
am telling the truth. Trust me, I say. Because when
I lie it's for the nation's -- no excuse me -- it's
for the world's own good.
happens if at some point I am unable to sort fact
to worry. My job is to tell stories.
all, that's what successful politicians do here, there
and everywhere. Otherwise, why on Earth would people
bother to listen for more than two minutes?
teaches writing at Ithaca College. He is also an anti-war
activist who wrote a book about effects of Agent Orange
on GIs serving in the Vietnam war.
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