Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Three Stories

The First Story is the one you want to tell, the idea, the intent that you wish to express. The Second Story is the story the details tell. The Third Story is the one between the two, the hardest to tell, the one people actually take in. It’s easy for folks to fall into the trap of thinking the first story is the only one that counts. After all, communication is just about messages, right? Control the messages, and you control the story. But as those of you who have witness the last few years of this administration can testify, nothing is quite so simple.

I write fiction on my own, and have done so for quite some time. I'm a big fan of the world-building works of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and long ago decided to work out some principles for how to construct such worlds. It's no small task to make these original, no small task on top of that to write authoritatively and eloquently about it, so people feel it in their bones. That is my ambition. From the response here, I'm sure I need to do some work!

So do many in the Bush administration. I don't envy them the fact that they don't have the luxury I do of assembling places, people, and things inside my own imagination. They have to assemble their second story from the fact themselves. No amount of image control or good intentions can save an administration that fails to handle that challenge. The details tell their own story. It's a running joke in films for somebody to walk in on a person in a compromised position, and have a character say "This isn't what you think!" Oh, the difficulties of talking your way out of those situations!

It only gets worse if you're in that compromised position because you were actually doing something wrong. Damage control is best practiced before the fact, by good judgment the alternative is to tell a fictional story that competes with the truth- a lie.

Lies have their own problems. The truth comes with a ready-made supply of other truths to back it up. Lies have to be told cleverly, to line up the outward logic of the facts with the non-fact you're trying to fool people into accepting. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that those who murder truths, like those who murder people, will make twenty-five mistakes before they leave the scene of the crime.

The first mistake is lying at all. As Mulder said in The X-Files, The Truth Is Out There. In fact it may be part of an unfolding truth, one whose concealment is a disaster waiting to happen. How many years did cigarette makers conceal their knowledge of the risks of their product before the lawsuit hit them? How long did Enron's executives conceal the truth of their business's true health before the lies cost the company everything it had?

The truth is stranger, and more creative than fiction. There will be any number of truths you didn't know yourself that will get thrust on you as you try and maintain your defense. God is a much more thorough writer. The details will start to convince people of a different story than your own. A defense in words and not in facts sends a message of its own, one that will begin to pre-empt the tales you tell; once people are convinced you're lying to them, things will only get worse. Confession, that lethal cup of hemlock, will be your only way to get people to believe you once more.

In the end, results are the best backing for one's words. If you tell people you'll shrink government, shrink it, or tell them you've changed your mind. If you tell people you'll cut spend it, cut it, and don't make a liar out of yourself. That, or again, tell them you've changed your mind. People, given enough time and experience of your actions will be able to tell the difference between you telling them what they want to hear, and you telling the truth. Lie to them often enough, and the best you'll be able to hope for is that they don't really care about the issue at hand. It's a pathetic, sorry thing to wish for, really.

It's not just a Republican problem. Politicians across the board have adopted this twisted sort of realism about message control, and have gained themselves a great deal of work to simply sit around and spin all day. The other day I saw a poll that said that support for Democrats to take over has dropped. The people there suggested that part of the problem was that they didn't see us coming up with alternatives. I think its a valid criticism, even if we do have alternative plans. remember the second story, the one the details tell: if people don't see us out there, putting our plans forward for what we will do with the power they give us, the story that gets told will be that we are no different than our opponents, that the preference for our policies is a matter of taste rather than of rational self interest. Our majority cannot simply be sold as the absence of Republicans in those seats. There has to be a presences there that is uniquely us in fact, not just in words. Don't worry about what the consultants say- people want substantial change, and if that's the story that our actions tell with our words, then winning elections will be far easier.

If we do get that power, we should learn the lesson that the Republicans failed to for so long: we cannot govern badly in fact and expect the story the voters tell themselves to remain a postive one forever. The story we tell must be one written in good policy, not just clever, eloquent language.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2006 12:16 PM
Comments
Comment #144839

mystified,

“The democrat party has this lying thing down to an art.They think if you tell a lie often enough it will become truth to the followers of the lying liars that tell the lies.”

Now that is truely a fantasy story.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 3:02 PM
Comment #144849

mystified-
So what lie did I tell? Why make that kind of comment here, where I’ve advised my people not to make liars of themselves?

A great many people, especially politicians, have lying down to an art. It’s juvenile to state that one party lies and the other doesn’t. Our real relationship with the political parties who represent us is much more complicated and problematic than that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #144851

“The democrat party has this lying thing down to an art.They think if you tell a lie often enough it will become truth to the followers of the lying liars that tell the lies.”

Seems much more like the pot calling the kettle black. Except, in this case it’s like the pot calling the window black…??? Sort of an amazingly brazen statement given the events of the past 5 years.

It all started with “I don’t think America should be in the business of national building” and went from there.

Posted by: tony at May 2, 2006 3:38 PM
Comment #144852

mystified,

“Rocky about like you having the name Rocky”

Given to me by my Godmother in 1955 when I was baptized, I was three years old.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #144856

tony,

“It all started with “I don’t think America should be in the business of national building” and went from there.”

That quote from George was from the campaign in 2000 so technically……

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 3:56 PM
Comment #144857

Saying… What are you saying… Ted Kennedy never killed anyone while driving sober.

Posted by: nathan at May 2, 2006 3:59 PM
Comment #144858

saying,

“Rocky its hard to beleive that you are one year older than i but still fall for the lefts bull shit.I”m guessing you are from boston?

Nowhere close.

And, there is plenty of shoveling going on from both sides.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #144859

Tony…how about this… You know i actually voted for the 87 billion before i voted against it. Or i never had sexual relations with that women.

Posted by: nathan at May 2, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #144862

saying,

“the right will always be better than the left…get over it. we are better because God is on our side, and God hates lefties….thats why all lefties are gay”

I guess ignorance is bliss.

Never heard about the “Log Cabin” conservitives?

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #144864

Stephen When you tell 25% of the story That leaves 75% of the story untold.You and yours refuse to tell the whole story.You and yours refuse to even talk about the 75% that is good.So you and yours LIE ABOUT 75% OF THE TIME.You are aiding those who would like to cut your throat.This would be just fine if it only hurt you and yours but in reality your rambling hurts me and mine.So defend the enemy if you like but expect to be called out every time you aid the enemies of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Posted by: mystified at May 2, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #144866

Who opened the door to these YAHOO trolls? Watchblog editor, can we screen some of this trash?

Posted by: Marysdude at May 2, 2006 4:19 PM
Comment #144870

Do Not Feed The Trolls.

Posted by: tony at May 2, 2006 4:23 PM
Comment #144873

mystified,
Al Franken and a team of researchers documented in a book who the lying liars were that were repeating lies. The facts stood up to scrutiny.

What do you have?

Posted by: Schwamp at May 2, 2006 4:28 PM
Comment #144875

Shhhh… we all know facts have a liberal bias.

Posted by: tony at May 2, 2006 4:30 PM
Comment #144874

I suspect that “saying” and “mystified” are the same flamebaiting troll — and who now seems to be answering himself. Now, I know one should “never feed a troll”, but since some half-assed statistics are suddenly being floated, I feel the need to float one of my own:
About eighty percent of Republicans are in actuality Democrats, who don’t know what the hell is going on.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 2, 2006 4:30 PM
Comment #144879

saying,

“Rocky you are a coward.”
“Lets see wheredemballs!”

Wow, that’s mighty strong stuff.
Just for the record, I know exactly where my balls are, and I don’t feel the need to show them to the likes of you.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 4:42 PM
Comment #144881

If you ignore the trolls - they will go away.

Posted by: tony at May 2, 2006 4:49 PM
Comment #144883

Users “mystified” and “saying” are the same person. The IP numbers this individual is posting from have been added to the ban list.

Posted by: WatchBlog Publisher at May 2, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #144884

Thank you, thank you.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #144885

Good work, Publisher. Thank you.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 2, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #144891

Thanks… the trolls were going schizophrenic.

Posted by: tony at May 2, 2006 5:12 PM
Comment #144897

Speaking about the truth;

Did any of you see or hear about Steven Colbert at the White house correspondents dinner?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lcIRXur61II&search=colbert%20bush%20cspan

And here’s a review from Editor and Publisher;

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002425363

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 5:34 PM
Comment #144899

Rocky, I did! Scathing and brilliant! Kind of amazing isn’t it — that the host of a fake news show would become Edward R. Murrow of 2006?!
I posted the Crooks and Liars link to a shorter version of Colbert’s routine the other night. In that post I also gave a link to Neil Young’s latest release. You can listen to it for free, so here it is again: Living With War

Posted by: Adrienne at May 2, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #144902

Talk about a high-wire act.

On editor and publisher the comments are at least 80/20% for.

The interview on 60 minutes was worth watching as well.

Posted by: Rocky at May 2, 2006 6:25 PM
Comment #144909

re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg from Colbert at the aforementioned dinner.

David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and now Stephen Colbert report the news better than the news media, which feels obliged to be fair to lying liars and hating haters. I still say the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS is the only news program that reports anything in depth. They allow some bloviating, but keep it in check.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 2, 2006 7:20 PM
Comment #144916

>>The IP numbers this individual is posting from have been added to the ban list.

Posted by: WatchBlog Publisher at May 2, 2006 04:51 PM

You are too good for mere words…

Posted by: Marysdude at May 2, 2006 7:50 PM
Comment #144920

mystified-
What’s good and what’s not doesn’t run in percentages. There are problems that you would lump in the 25% that can undermine the other 75%. My concern has always been that this president has gotten us into a strategic mess of the first order. My concern has always been about getting out of it, in a way we can be proud of. I was convinced then, and am still convinced now, that Bush’s mishandling of the war has put us at a disadvantage in our fight against the terrorists, and the longer we persist in this, the worse it gets.

You call it lying that I don’t echo your supposed majority of good news. Truth is, most of that news seems to be what people in the news business would call human interest stories- the small puff pieces squeezed in behind the real news. If you’re looking to convince people that those who have substantive disagreements with the planning, justification and execution of this war, then you have to tackle things on that level, because otherwise people will rightly believe that you’re avoiding the big, important issues of the war.

But more importantly, you have to tell the second story well. With this war, that was royally screwed up. False or unreliable information was used in the reports that made war a political inevitability, and which bought the war it’s public support. In terms of the strategy, people have been using a common sense measurement of the war’s progress. This administration let a basically victorious army get entangled into a very avoidable insurgency, and from there, we’ve seen unrelenting bloodshed where peace was supposed to be. The inability to stop that has convinced many people of our inability to win. I maintain hope even now that things will get better, that Bush will stumble on to a manageable path out of this war, one that leaves us some of our dignity. But I don’t have faith that we will find this way without persistent pressure on him to do so.

As for cutting my own throat?
Read my entries, for crying out loud. My aim is greater security. Your liberal-phobic perspective might draw you to believe that my efforts are doomed to leave America vulnerable to its enemies, but my agenda is quite the opposite. The strategic mistake of Iraq has left us vulnerable. I’ve only wanted Bush to finish the war well, and get us out so we can do more to secure our borders and our interests, and so we can have our big stick back to threaten the countries we have to speak softly with.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 2, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #144951


Stephen: I love science fiction. My favorite is Andre Norton. Although she is not heavy on the science side, she tells a great story (Star Mans Son, The Space Patrol)-I would love it if Edgar’s family would sell the movie rights to the Barsoom story.

Lying has become a science in the political arena, and not a very good one at that. Politians are always being caught up in their lies. Except, the republicans of course, they have God on their side and cannot tell a lie.

Posted by: jlw at May 2, 2006 10:50 PM
Comment #145036

jlw-
We have to be careful, too. We are not invulnerable to the temptations. Both sides lie, and both sides rationalize it to a certain extent. The difference between us and them is that we are less likely to associate our patriotic love for our country with the protection of our leaders

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 3, 2006 10:09 AM
Comment #145058


Stephen: If I understand you correctly, then I agree with you. We democrats will critize our own leaders if we think they are screwing up. Yes, we are harder on the republicans but they deserve it.

On the other hand, the republicans seem to have an almost worshipful attitude towards their politicians. But, after six years of republican mumbo jumbo rule that repub egg is beginning to get a lot of cracks in it. These low poll numbers would not be possible without many of the republican faithful becoming disillusioned with their leaders and the direction that our country is headed. I was beginning to think it was impossible for a republican to critize Bush.

Posted by: jlw at May 3, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #145072

>>I was beginning to think it was impossible for a republican to critize Bush.

Posted by: jlw at May 3, 2006 11:57 AM

Some are starting to equivocate a little, i. e., Cheney/Bush hasn’t done everything right, and mistakes have been made, but…

I hope I’m no conspiracy nut, but why does it seem, to me, less likely that mistakes have been made, than that mistakes have been calculated? Most Repubs haven’t come this far yet, but equivocation is moving in the right (pun intended) direction.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 3, 2006 12:54 PM
Post a comment