gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

poetry, not prose

Tom Friedman says that we need poetry, not prose,
to get this country into better shape.
Although we surely know a rose would be a rose
if called by any other name, a grape
becomes much more when sublimated into wine,
and politics don’t matter till its message
becomes poetic. Prose won’t help to make it shine,
and all predications politicians presage
won’t come to pass unless they’re elevated with
poetic language that shifts paradigms,
and brings into reality what seemed mere myth,
promoting the prosaic with its rhymes.
We need a narrative that we can memorize,
not complicated data on a chart,
and yearn for tuneful songs that we can harmonize,
and poems we love learning off by heart.

Inspired by an Op-Ed article by Thomas Friedman in the NYT, November 1,2009, exhorting President Obama to be more poetic (“More Poetry Please”) :
More and more lately, I find people asking me: What do you think President Obama really believes about this or that issue? I find that odd. How is it that a president who has taken on so many big issues, with very specific policies — and has even been awarded a Nobel Prize for all the hopes he has kindled — still has so many people asking what he really believes? I don’t think that President Obama has a communications problem, per se. He has given many speeches and interviews broadly explaining his policies and justifying their necessity. Rather, he has a “narrative” problem….
“Obama’s election marked a shift — from a politics that celebrated privatized concerns to a politics that recognized the need for effective government and larger public purposes. Across the political spectrum, people understood that national renewal requires big ambition, and a better kind of politics, ” said the Harvard political theorist Michael Sandel, author of the new best seller — “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? ” — that calls for elevating our public discourse. But to deliver on that promise, Sandel added, Obama needs to carry the civic idealism of his campaign into his presidency. He needs a narrative that will get the same voters who elected him to push through his ambitious agenda — against all the forces of inertia and private greed. “You can’t get nation-building without shared sacrifice, ” said Sandel, “and you cannot inspire shared sacrifice without a narrative that appeals to the common good — a narrative that challenges us to be citizens engaged in a common endeavor, not just consumers seeking the best deal for ourselves. Obama needs to energize the prose of his presidency by recapturing the poetry of his campaign.”


Submitted: Sunday, November 01, 2009

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  • Esop Sloane (11/3/2009 10:26:00 PM)

    John Tantillo just published a piece on his marketing blog that cites Friedman's piece. He's not an Obama fan and comes at it from an angle that's more critical of the president (of whom he says his presidential brand has diverged from his candidate brand, to disastrous results...) -but it's interesting that the two do agree that there's a lack of coherence and consistency that's hurting Obama.
    - Here's Tantillo's post on the two Obama brands. (Report) Reply

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