Prez Candidates Write Their Own Stories and Ours, in Very Personal Books

20 04 2007

UPDATE – story link live now.

Don’t miss the Sunday book section of the New York Times! Favorite Daughter and I just read the select subscriber release of “The Politics of Prose” — a long piece analyzing the power of story revealed in books authored by all the various presidential candidates. (I hadn’t stopped to think that virtually all of them across the political spectrum have penned books already.)

Her honors English seminar chose Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father” as one of the term’s reading selections and they just discussed it yesterday. (She and her professor commiserated about their general disappointment with politicians writing literature.)

So this is timely for us.

But it’s timely for all Thinking Parents too.
For example, one thing that struck me is the lack of diversity in the types of brains that we’ve let politics narrow down to. We’re dominated by linear wonkish male-pattern lawyer brains (even in the female frontrunner!) although perhaps surprisingly Obama who is also a lawyer, deviates from that mold into a more whole-brained style of writing, you know, the kind of mind traditionally dismissed as “female?” 😉

Daniel Pink of course, says that linear left-brain, info obsessed thinking is so last century!

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.

This book describes a seismic – though as yet undetected – shift now underway in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer-like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. A Whole New Mind is for anyone who wants to survive and thrive in this emerging world . . .

This swells in significance when you remember all these lawyer-brained folks pass all the education laws and set all the standards. That linear lawyer brain, much less the braggart super-CEO motivational speaker showboat (also described in this Sunday piece) don’t fit the minds we want our kids to develop for the future a la Howard Gardner, right? Thus it suggests we could start by electing different kinds of minds to lawmaking, if we’re really serious about systemic change for kids on campus.

All much more interesting to me at least, than the usual “horse-race-sex-party” analysis. (See how cool that sounds when I run the cliches together and combine meanings in jarring juxtaposition, horse race with race, sex with party, etc? The power of prose!)

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5 responses

23 04 2007
JJ

They’re not QUITE prez candidates but here are two more books you can practice on to see what kinds of mindsets are revealed within, by Chuck Schumer and Charlie Rangel.

Or I should say, here’s a wonderful story ABOUT their books by real-live professional writer Eric Alterman, who’s presently working on a “history of American liberalism.”

Of Schumer’s book he writes:

Schumer has compiled one of those laundry lists of problems facing middle-class voters, problems that he believes call for “a 50 percent solution.” He thinks we should be 50 percent safer from terrorist attacks, our children should be exposed to 50 percent less pornography on the Internet, and our students’ reading and math scores should be 50 percent higher. This may work as a slogan, but it is not, to put it mildly, an interesting philosophical argument. Who, to begin with, would oppose any of this? And why 50 percent? Why not 67 or 72?

Obviously, it’s a gimmick, and the real problem with poll-tested positions of this kind lies in agreeing on the means to address such issues and the likely trade-offs to be made along the way. Time and again, Schumer ignores these complications. Thus, he simply explains away the problem of raising students’ scores without “teaching to the test,” which is inherent in the No Child Left Behind program. (What’s more, he gives reviewers too-easy targets by offering solutions like — I kid you not — “a Schumer box,” to be put on all cellphone and electronic media player contracts, warning parents against porn.)

So maybe I’ll just read the good writing about the bad writing, instead of the actual writing, and wind up knowing and understanding a lot more that way? 🙂

12 07 2007
JJ

Faith Intertwines With Political Life for Clinton

The intersection of faith and politics can be perilous for candidates. One of Mrs. Clinton’s chief rivals, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, talks often of embracing Christianity as an adult and the power of faith to transform lives. But Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential contender, has struggled to overcome concerns among many Americans about his Mormon faith.

Long portrayed by critics as out of touch with religious voters, Mrs. Clinton is clearly intent on trying win some of them over. Her campaign, for example, has brought in Burns Strider, an evangelical Christian who headed religious outreach for Democrats in the House.

Mr. Strider and other supporters point to what they say is Mrs. Clinton’s long record in bringing religious values to the public arena — her support for religion-based social programs, co-sponsorship of a law prohibiting religious discrimination and efforts on behalf of children, the poor and those needing health care.

And while she supports abortion rights, she has made overtures to religious conservatives by expressing respect for opponents of abortion and calling for both sides to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

29 12 2007
Writing Our Own Political Power of Story « Cocking A Snook!

[…] campaign in different ways without changing the substance of what he was saying. He learned to use rhythms, analogies, “quotes that resonate better.” . . . skating nimbly among factions. . […]

7 05 2008
Vote Now! Top Five Thinkers for Our Times « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Parents think for themselves and help their children learn to do the same. But here are JJ’s power of mind (education) and power of story […]

18 05 2008
Obama Elected First Black President! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] blogged our politicians writing books about themselves, as power of story about power of story. Here and here for example. Today’s New York Times adds even more power of story to Obama’s […]

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