The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Now here's a political platform


Fred A Wilcox • 30 July 2004 (The Ithaca Journal)

Let me begin by saying I have no money. I am not famous, I do not belong to a political party and I have never held public office. My platform will be, quite simply, about telling stories. You see, I'm convinced that politicians have a lot in common with novelists. They just love telling stories.

Ernest Hemingway said something about fiction writers being good liars. Perhaps apropos, but politicians usually do not write books like "The Sun Also Rises." They tell stories not just to entertain us but also to make sure that we will know how to think and behave properly.

Shortly after 9/11, George W. Bush began telling the American people stories. He said that in a faraway land lived an evil ogre who was plotting to destroy the United States. This ogre was just like Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Mao and a few others all rolled into one. He had something to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center, he was a psychotic terrorist, he partied with other terrorists, he plotted attacks on America with terrorists, he bought terrorists new sneakers, he even allowed them to swim in his pool.

Listening to Mr. Bush, I recalled waking in the night when I was a child. I could feel the bogey man. He was in the closet, he was under my bed, he was about to sink his fangs into my neck and suck the life out of me.

When G.W. started telling stories, I knew that, once upon a time, Saddam Hussein had lurked in the dark in my room, waiting to rip out my heart just because I was an American.

One day, Mr. Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier. He was dressed up like a jet pilot. The war in Iraq, he told the world, was over. The United States had prevailed. Democracy would soon rise from the ashes of bombed out Iraqi homes, Iraqis would soon shower their liberators with love, the Middle East would soon see the Bush-light, all of the world's terrorists would soon be smoked out of their holes, all of evil outlaws would soon bite the dust.

Of course George W. did not say all this while he was pretending to be a fighter pilot. His story that day was rather short. America invaded, America fought, America prevailed and America would always prevail.

I'm often asked why so many people seem to adore George W. Bush. Simple, I say. It's because he's a good storyteller. He doesn't just stand there like John Kerry, blinking as though he's trying to remember his lines. No, George gets into the narrative.

He shouts, he points, he scoffs, he ridicules. When he says that the United States is safer now that Saddam is behind bars, he leans over the podium and crams those words right into the adoring crowd's face. When he says that his party stands for values, he belts it out like a rap singer.

Crowds go wild when Mr. Bush starts telling stories because, let's face it, he's a natural-born entertainer. G.W. tells a yarn the way a kid lies about stealing from the cookie jar. He puts his heart and soul into the tale. He chomps, hisses, growls, moans and laughs. The crowd gets hopping to the sound of the tale and George rides right along with them, straight to the fictitious climax.

Now, John Kerry and his new sidekick, Senator John Edwards, are doing their best to become better storytellers. They like to tell a story about having been duped by Mr. Bush, the CIA and possibly the evil ogre in Baghdad himself.

Their job, they insist, was to listen to storytellers who had heard stories about the most horrible, wicked, evil man who ever lived on Earth. They listened to these stories, and they apparently talked with other men and women who, prominent politicians themselves, appreciated the art of story telling. And so, tricked into believing Mr. Bush and friends' narrative, John and John voted for the war.

They voted to send young men and women to kill and die in Iraq because, they keep telling us, they believed that Saddam Hussein was about to develop terrible weapons that he would then drop on American towns and cities, killing millions of innocent people.

Compared to G.W., Kerry and Edwards are amateurs. Like the resident in the White House, they tell the same stories over and over. But they lack what psychologists call "effect." They need to put more feeling into their claims that they represent the common man because, truth be told, they were wooed by Mr. Bush's stories that hundreds of thousands of common men and women urgently needed to be sent to the killing fields in Iraq.

When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me stories. Then, when I had children of my own I read them stories and sometimes made up stories of my own.

Was I lying? Of course not. My children knew that Jack really didn't climb the bean stalk, gather a basket of golden eggs and then chop the bean stalk down, killing the evil giant that wanted his eggs back. They didn't care whether my stories were true because they liked living in their imaginations.

I wasn't running for office when my children were young; therefore, I didn't have to be concerned about things such as real-life ogres.

Sometimes I wish that I could just appear on the Larry King show and tell entertaining yarns, but I have a responsibility now to do more than amuse my loyal supporters. I must persuade them to believe that when I say, "war is peace; ignorance is strength; freedom is slavery."

I am telling the truth. Trust me, I say. Because when I lie it's for the nation's -- no excuse me -- it's for the world's own good.

What happens if at some point I am unable to sort fact from fiction?

Not to worry. My job is to tell stories.

After all, that's what successful politicians do here, there and everywhere. Otherwise, why on Earth would people bother to listen for more than two minutes?


Wilcox teaches writing at Ithaca College. He is also an anti-war activist who wrote a book about effects of Agent Orange on GIs serving in the Vietnam war.






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

4 August 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Tommy Gorman, Radical Thought
Anthony McIntyre

The UnHung Hero
Dolours Price

State Republicans and Totalitarian States
Kathleen O Halloran

Informers Everywhere
Mick Hall

Now Here's A Political Platform
Fred A Wilcox

Political Theatre
Danielle Ni Dhighe

Energy Crisis in Argentina, FTAA Goes One Game Up
Víctor Ego Ducrot and Martín Waserman
translated by Toni Solo

30 July 2004

Summertime and the living is easy...
Eamon Sweeney

The Strip
Anthony McIntyre

The Provisionals: A Repeat of History
Liam O Comain

Free Seamus Doherty
Martin Mulholland, IRPWA

Sartre Review
Liam O Ruairc

Bollix: Barriers and Borders
Matthew Kavanah



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices