I think it is true, as someone said recently, that as brilliant as Obama is as a communicator, the administration has too often lost control of the narrative in this first year, or ceded control of the narrative to others.
It’s been distressing to see the most lunatic narratives gaining power in these fearful and anxious and economically desparate times. And to see the right wing’s rabid sway over the corporate mainstream media. Right-wing fearmongers have had far too much control of the narrative, from health care, to climate change, to Van Jones, to ACORN, and on down the line. All to the detriment of our discourse and democracy.
The concluding paragraph to this piece by Robert Reich illustrates the president’s struggle to sculpt the story:
"But our President is not comfortable wielding blame. He will not give the public the larger narrative of private-sector greed, its nefarious effect on the American public at this dangerous juncture, and the private sector’s corruption of the democratic process. He has so far eschewed any major plan to get corporate and Wall Street money out of politics. He can be indignant- as when he lashed out at the "fat cats" on Wall Street – but his indignance is fleeting, and it is no match for the faux indignance of the right that blames government for all that ails us."
Obama, following his often noble, sometimes futile, instinct toward reconcilliation, has thus far failed to craft a compelling narrative with the emotional, rhetorical and spiritual power that animated the campaign and electrified the world.
The success of his policies and his presidency, as well as the hopes of so many struggling people, depend on Obama’s ability to wield the power story and activate a narrative that will motivate the nation.