Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz stopped by The Wall Street Journal this week to discuss his coming story collection, “This Is How You Lose Her,” and a slate of topics ranging from apocalypses in the Caribbean to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”
They’ll publish the video interview soon, but in light of the political conventions this week and last, and President Obama’s speech tonight, they asked Diaz to assess the two campaigns with respect to a piece he wrote for the New Yorker in January 2010, one year into Obama’s presidency. “A President can have all the vision in the world, be an extraordinary orator and a superb politician, have courage and foresight and a willingness to make painful choices, have a bold progressive plan for his nation—but none of these things will matter a wit if the President cannot couch his vision, his policies, his courage, his will, his plan in the idiom of story,” Diaz wrote at the time.
They asked Diaz this week about the current election year, and how the two campaigns are sizing up at the level of narrative. How are Obama and Romney doing as storytellers in the race for the presidency? Here’s his response.
“I mean, look, we’re living in a country where you can’t have a non-denominational response. If you’re slightly critical of either party, all of the partisans jump on you like you’re a lunatic. So, that’s an interesting climate with which to observe this stuff. I actually think it’s strange because this should have been cakewalk for the Republicans, really. Honestly, I’m sorry. This should have been a cakewalk, and they’re doing a terrible job, just at the level of narrative. They’re just not connecting in any way possible. They seem to be trotting out all their old story protocols and none of them are really working. Think about how close this darn race is, and that doesn’t seem likely. Strangely enough, Obama is doing well. It’s hard to wrap your brain around because it doesn’t feel like he’s doing much. Yet he’s doing well. For some reason this guy, when he campaigns, seems to connect with people the way he doesn’t seem to connect when he’s running the damn country. You know, it’s still a split decision, it’s still incredibly close and it will be close until the last vote is cast. But as far as the level of storyteller is concerned, I have a far clearer sense of who Obama is during this election, than I do at all of Romney.”
For the original report go to http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/09/06/junot-diaz-on-2012-election-this-should-have-been-a-cakewalk/