Friday, November 03, 2006

The battle over political narrative

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I just wanted to let you know this Friday afternoon that I've had an article published at The National Interest online: "The Battle over Narrative, Post-Midterms". The direct link to the article is here.

I may post it in full before next Tuesday's midterms, but here's how it opens:

Let’s assume that the Democrats win back the House but not the Senate. Let’s also assume that the situation in Iraq continues to worsen or remain poor, at least in terms of American public and political perception.

The realities on the ground in Iraq and in other global hotspots like Iran and North Korea aside, the American political landscape over the next two years is likely to be dominated by a battle for control of the dominant political narrative in preparation for the presidential election in 2008. Even the races within both parties for the 2008 nomination will be battles for narrative control.

This battle will challenge what has been an enduring political status-quo in the GOP’s favor. Since the 9/11 attacks, the White House and the Republican Congress that has rubber-stamped its policies have controlled the narrative of American politics. Republican success in both 2002 and 2004 only confirmed that voters in large numbers bought the spin that the dangerous post-9/11 environment required Republican, and specifically Bush’s, leadership. Bush came into office as a self-declared "uniter", and he had an opportunity to lead a bipartisan political climate after 9/11, but instead both the War on Terror and the war in Iraq have been used as wedges to establish a clear divide between strong, loyal Republicans and weak, disloyal Democrats.

And the narrative stuck, for a time, until it started to unravel. With Iraq looking more and more like a failure of historic proportions and with the disaster that was Katrina exposing devastating flaws at the top, the Republican narrative collapsed.

Needless to say, I hope you read the whole thing.

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