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Thursday, November 04, 2004

EVERYBODY LIKES A GOOD STORY

Everyone I know (all Democrats) is wondering how Bush could win when (according to us) the facts were against him.

I think he told a better story. To be honest, he was the one telling a story; Kerry didn't tell a coherent story.

Bush kept his message simple. The terrorists attacked. I attacked them back. I will keep them on the run.

Never mind all the quibbles. It's a good story. It's easy to follow.

For the greatest part of the campaign, Kerry's story seems to have been: When I was a young man, I volunteered for Vietnam.

Then he stopped telling that story, because people were tired of it, and it was a story about events that happened thirty years ago.

After that, there were several stories he could have told. But he tried to tell all of them. Very few people can get wrapped up in more than one story at a time.

It's hard to win an election if you're not telling a story. Carter won in 1976 with "I will never lie to you." Nixon won with "I have a secret plan to end the war." Reagan won with "It's morning in America." Clinton won with "working people just want a fair shake." Kennedy won with "missile gap" (which wasn't a true story, but a good story). Johnson won with "Goldwater will get us into a nuclear war."

Kerry had a lot of story points which I won't bother to recite again here. But they did not add up to a story. They added up to poking holes in Bush's story. In other words, Kerry was a critic, not a story teller. I think Kerry could have won with "America needs to be united, not divided." But he never settled on a story to tell.

The Republicans have always been good at telling a story, because they tend to see the world in moral terms, and moral terms are a good basis for story telling. When Democrats tell a good story, though, they win.

Moral for the Democrats: pick someone next time who can tell a story.

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