Setting Straight a Confused Narrative Emerging from the RNC


by Michael Dennin

On the second night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was scheduled to deliver the keynote address for the evening, so naturally the correspondents covering the RNC spent their time before the speech reporting the day’s events, conducting interviews and wondering what the rising star in the GOP would say. One of these correspondents, Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel, stated in an interview with Ohio Governor John Kasich that he had an inside preview of Governor Christie’s speech and that he would say “that the American people are ready to hear that we’ve got problems and that they can handle, quote, the truth.” Later on in his address, Governor Christie appeared to confirm what Hannity had paraphrased earlier by stating “If you’re willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that the truth will bear, I’m here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.” Judging from Governor’s Christie’s remarks and the interpretations of reporters and pundits such as Mr. Hannity, one might reach the conclusion that the narrative was that the American people were suddenly ready and willing to hear about the problems confronting our nation and our government. This sends a potentially confused message to the American people and our public officials that, lest we be misunderstood, requires clarification on our part.

The notion that the American people are now suddenly ready to hear about the problems confronting our nation and government is profoundly mistaken. The American people have been expressing their dissatisfaction with our government and its conduct for years. Today, it is not a matter of whether or not the American people are ready to hear the truth from government, it is a matter of whether or not government is ready to hear the truth from the American people.

Earlier this summer, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan touched on this point in an article titled “A Remedial Communication Class”:

We’ve written of this before but it needs repeating. The American people will not listen to a narrative, they will not sit still for a story. They do not listen passively as seemingly eloquent people in Washington spin tales of their own derring-do.

The American people tell you the narrative. They look at the facts produced by your leadership, make a judgment and sum it up. The summation is spoken—the story told—at a million barbecues in a million back yards.

Listening to Governor Christie’s speech and the interpretations of pundits such as Mr. Hannity, one is left with the impression that they have gotten the narrative and the source of the narrative completely backwards. In all fairness to Governor Christie, his choice of words were probably directed at the people who haven’t been willing to face up to the challenges facing our country and need to hear these things from straight-shooting public officials such as himself, but it’s important to set the record and the narrative straight.

Lest our representatives and officials in government misunderstand us, let this point be made crystal clear: the American people are not “ready to hear” anything. We are sick and tired of of government officials insulting our intelligence and telling us what to think, from the serial offender in the White House on down. It is time for our public officials to shut up and listen up, and if they are not ready and willing to do so, we are ready and willing to find people who are ready to hear the truth – the narrative – from us.


Posted August 31, 2012 by Candidus in Politics

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