Posts Tagged ‘narrative arc’

Barack Obama may finally be defining himself as president. The question is: What took him so long to seize the narrative and find his character as “leader.”

Obama now has strong public support in the fiscal crisis faceoff. Even as the House Republicans scramble to find a way into the argument, the president has a tight grip on the storyline.

This is a big change from the fierce healthcare reform fight and the 2011 debt limit crisis. The chattering class then continually asserted that Obama had “lost control of the narrative.”

But now the president has a strong narrative arc: He is the protagonist who will stand up for what he believes in, battling the odds.

A dramatic character holds our attention based on what he wants—the “spine of a character” in a play is defined by a clear through-line of intention. For much of Obama’s first term, the American public — his audience — felt that he had lost his way.

The problem was that Obama, as president, had cast himself as consensus seeker or conciliator. This role took him out of the action of his own narrative.”

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☞ Obama certainly believed in narrative. In his second Presidential bid, he claimed that one of the faults of his first term was his inability to tell the appropriate stories effectively enough. This was a contrast to his challenger, Mitt Romney, who, until the later stages of his campaign, was less interested in narrative. The Obama team’s consistent interest in narrative was one of the likely factors that led to his victory at the polls. This article points to Obama’s increased use of narrative (in the more traditional sense) to project his public image.