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Shecky Blue

Lear and Oedipus had great stories, too, but I don't want 'em running the joint.

blue girl

That Republicans make better stories - I agreed at first -- but then again --

Is that because they've somehow convinced us over the years that they really do stand for and live up to *personal responsibility* -- and all the other stuff they say they stand for? Where we -- the liberal heathens -- are just expected to be "flawed, weak, sinful, and vice-ridden people?"

No surprises there -- no *twist* to the story.

Rush Limbaugh being a drug addict is shocking! A liberal being a drug addict is...typical.

(Jesus forgives Rush, though.)

They're proving every day that the perception of most people to think they are more responsible than we are is a joke. It's what I was trying to convey in my Cheney post yesterday. For a man of Cheney's stature and supposed *character* - not to immediately step up and do the right thing was appalling to me.

So, if they stay in power long enough -- if they keep failing and ducking responsiblity -- maybe after, oh I don't know -- 20, 30 years -- we can start using the "we are more responsible" angle -- might help us win.

Exiled in NJ

You hit it on the head, BG. I often use Tony Soprano for comparison. Tony beats up the bartender at 'da Bing' or sees his latest mistress accidentally set herself on fire, and after the initial incident, we see on his face the creeping realization that people should not act that way. The usual result is that he forks over a wad of cash to Paulie, telling him to go to the hospital and make sure the victim has the best of treatment. It's his way of saying 'I screwed up.'

Then again, Mr. W probably has all the health insurance money can buy, and doesn't need the crocodile forking over cash, though I find it odd that Mr. W did not shop around for the best rates, as our leaders want us to do.

blue girl

I know it's twisted, but I love Tony Soprano. And I love when that part of him that comes through as you describe, Exiled.

You know a lot of people are comparing Cheney not taking responsibility for this to all the other fiascos where Bush&Co. haven't taken responsibility. And although I haven't thought it through completely -- this situation is different.

When people were harping on Bush to apologize for being wrong on WMD -- it seemed like a cheap political ploy. "Get him to say he was wrong! And then we can shove his apology down his throat for years!!"

Cheney *saying* he accepted responsibility is not the point. He didn't follow the ambulance to the hospital! That's what gets me.

He didn't do the right thing. He did not do the decent thing that most good people would have done. If he would've acted appropriately, he wouldn't have had to *accept* responsibility. Saying it and doing it are two different things.

It just shows he's a hollow shell. Much like when Bush joked about not being able to find WMD at that one dinner. True colors.


I suddenly have magical linking abilities! (Thanks, Lance.)


The comparison to the Lewinsky story makes a lot of sense. I do think the shooting has a lot of rhetorical power, if only because it represents Cheney's sense of entitlement, his lack of regard for others, even his violent tendencies. I think you could make a case that Cheney's flaws, especially when combined with an office of such enormous power, might give more pause than Clinton's excessive libido. Maybe.

But I think you're right that, among other things, Dems need to craft better narratives. It's one of the flaws that I encountered in the George Butler doc about John Kerry last year. Kerry's story basicaly "ends" in 1972 or 1973 when Vietnam ends. There was no footage of a heroic, crusading Senator. Nothing to humanize him after the Winter Soldier moment, and I think it made it more difficult for people to identify with him.

Interesting point.


we're talking about cultural templates here.
as such, it doesn't matter how awful cheney
is. he comes from the nativist strain of america. therefore he loves america. even if he is a flawed vessel, he's on the inside.
progressives have been on the outside in the cities since the great immigration waves of the 1880s, and in the prairie states since wjbryan fell short at the turn of the century. therfore, we hate america.
at best,we are ambivalent.

unknot this template even a little and they lose.
ignore it and we are ceding so much ground to the right that we can never catch up.

running on competence didn't do it for dukakis; running against corruption barely
scratches the surface (plus it's a double-edged sword). the theme of treason has been an undercurrent of rightwing mania since mccarthy. vietnam and 9/11 has reinforced it. that's why the dnc motto "together, we can do better" is so laughable.
corruption and incompetence is a start, but the key to beating bush/cheney/rove/delay is dereliction of duty.

Kevin Wolf

Yeah, Lance, in the simplest terms possible: Who is more compelling? Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader? (I can't believe I referenced Star Wars. I hate Star Wars.)

Love the finish of this piece.

harry near indy

yeh, you could say cheney is the devil incarnate, and it makes it easier to write off his evils.

people have done that with hitler -- to compare a great evil with a lesser one.

i'd emphasize human qualities of both cheney and hitler. it still proves that each man has one foott on earth and one foot on the path to hell.

to me, that makes them scarier and more of a warning.


What a terrific analysis! But I don't think either party has a monopoly on resonant stories; Clinton has the best personal story of any candidate in decades, from either party. Until now, Cheney has been a perfect example of a story-less guy; like Kerry, he was all resume. Unlike all his relatively bloodless skullduggery, though, this incident is violent and immediate. It makes his evil more tangible.


Tony Soprano is Hollywood's version of what a mobster looks and acts like. The kind of thing the 50 somethings, wanna be Frat boys, dream up and talk about on Imus because they want to impress the rubes out there who don't personally know better. Try running a legit business and having to interact with them to simply avoid having your legs broke. From Cary Grant's version of Mr. Lucky to Soprano...and inbetween....all bullshit for the rubes.

Lance you are wrong, I suggest,about Kerry. His service (the Senate Hearings) on the CIA-Iran-Contra drug smuggling connections was a real service to the country. THEN his career turned into a great resume. Its long forgotten now because Kerry made sure its forgotten. Why did he do that? Crucial question...I guess you can't get into certain 'clubs' if in the past you have asked too many questions. But that was it...that was the last 'anti-establishment' move the guy ever made.


How about this as a metaphor for this administration's unique ability to muck up every single thing it undertakes. Cheney as the quintessential bungler.


Machiavelli spent a great deal of time thinking about precisely this issue.

"But flawed, weak, sinful, and vice-ridden people are more interesting characters."

Not really - they're more interesting to people who have deeply ingrained the Christian narrative structures. These types of narratives were not more interesting to ancient Greeks or ancient Chinese. This is the ultimate reason why Machiavelli describes the politics of medieval Europe as so absurd, while the politics of ancient Greece and Rome were much more admirable to him (as well as the political regime of the Ottoman Turks).

Fall through sin and salvation through faith is a specifically Christian narrative.

Anne Laurie

Actually, from what I can tell, Democrats like Kerry and Dukakis have MUCH more interesting life stories than Republicans like Cheney or any of the Bushes. But the Democratic stories are novels, and the Republican stories are comic books or action movies -- brightly colored, speedy, easy to translate, things you can absorb with half your attention on something else. Perhaps what the Democratic Party "needs" is not better biographies, but artists who can better script the available biographies for an age of sound-bites and video-clips.

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