Saturday, July 10, 2004

No nuance, no detail - just cut to the chase 

Billmon is back with a lengthy and complicated piece on the Enron scandal Play It As It Lays
One problem with this story is the complexity of the narrative -- people prefer simpler tales of good and evil. Just look at Billmon's last sentence: "Right now [the Republicans are] desperately trying to sell the proposition that because Kenny Boy ate dinner at Teresa Heinz Kerry's house two years ago (along with the other members of the board of the Heinz Center for Science, Economy and the Environment) the Democrats are just as tainted by the Enron embrace as the [Republican] party, and the [Bush] family, that accepted millions of dollars in soft and hard dollar contributions from Enron insiders, that placed Enron-recommended appointees in critical state and federal jobs, that pushed through legislative and regulatory changes worth billions to Enron, and that dutifully adopted the policies that allowed Lay and his crew to amass huge personal fortunes while systematically robbing Enron's customers, shareholders and employees."
How unlikely it is that most journalists will understand this complexity and be able to construct this into a narrative which can be covered on the evening news.
Its one of the biggest problems that the left-wing and the democrats have to deal with -- the complexity of the problems are hard to explain in a few words. But it is important that Kerry try to construct narratives about the Republican record and his own vision that are easier for the public to grasp.
My advice - discard nuance, reject detail, just cut to the chase. Let the RNC be on the defensive for a change. So what if they attack these constructions as simplistic, which they may be, as long as there is truth at their core?
Lay cheated the American public, and his Republican friends helped him do it.
Bush and Cheney used false evidence to start a war that killed a thousand Americans.
Republican tax cuts for the rich, if maintained, will mortgage America's future.
When faced with recession and job losses, the Republicans did nothing.

And Kerry has to develop a simple narrative for his own policies:
America must throw off the shackles of dependence on middle-east oil.
The American people deserve decent health care.
Terrorism must be fought strategically and decisively.
10 million new jobs for Americans.

You get the idea.

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