Barack Obama, the Not-So-Great American Storyteller

A dog walks into a bar...


President Obama said today that the biggest mistake of his first term was not being a good enough storyteller…

- ABC News 

* * * *

A dog walks into a bar and orders a beer. I don't remember what kind of dog it was. Maybe it was a Portuguese water dog like our dog, Bo. But it doesn't have to be. It could be a collie, or a German shepherd, or even a greyhound I guess. Anybody here have a greyhound? No? Okay. It's not really important to the story. 

Anyway, the dog orders a beer, and the man on the next stool says, "I don't want to drink in a place that serves dogs." And you can't blame him, am I right? Unless it's a seeing-eye dog or other type of service animal, most states have pretty strict health regulations about the presence of live animals in food establishments – and for good reason, I might add. Take it from me, dogs are not the most sanitary animals.

Even so, the dog takes offense and they get into a fight. The man pulls a gun and shoots the dog in the foot – this was probably in Virginia, where they let you take your gun into the bar instead of securing it safely in the trunk of your vehicle –  and the dog runs off. 

The next week the dog goes into the bar again. This time he's wearing a black hat, a black vest, black boots, and a pair of Colt .45s. The dog goes up to the bartender and says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my left forefoot." No, wait – that's not it. . . . How does it go again?

- Barack Obama: Speech to the National Education Association.

 * * * *

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. We've all heard that before, haven't we? You always hear these arguments that somehow, you know, some are thin, and some are fat – there are even those who say the fat one has a yellow hat. We've heard it from the spin masters and the negative-ad peddlers who practice the politics of division, the pundits who like to slice and dice our country into red fish and blue fish: red fish for Republicans, blue fish for Democrats. But I've got news for them: There's not a red aquarium and a blue aquarium, there is a United States of Aquarium. And I say to you tonight that at the end of the day, we are all one fish. And in the end, that's what this election is all about.

Speech to the Democratic National Convention.

* * * *

Once upon a time there was a grasshopper jumping around in the summer sun in a field, somewhere or other.Probably Kansas. They have fields in Kansas, right? Or maybe it was Iowa. One of those states in the Midwest, anyway. So this grasshopper, he's just jumping and chirping and singing to his heart's content when this ant comes along, sweating and huffing and puffing and carrying an ear of corn. 

So the grasshopper says, "Hey, Mr. Ant – what are you doing with that ear of corn?" And the ant says: "I'm going to take it home and store it for the winter, and I suggest you do the same." But the grasshopper doesn't pay any attention, and when winter comes the grasshopper doesn't have anything to eat, so he dies. 

Now there are those who say – and my opponent is one of them – there are those who say this story shows the need to be fiscally conservative. And you can believe that if you want to. But I'm always struck by those insects who think they are so smart, who think they work harder than everybody else. Well, let me tell you something: There are a whole lot of hardworking bugs out there. 

Where do you think that ear of corn came from that that ant was carrying? Somebody else planted that ear of corn. Somebody else tilled the field and laid the irrigation pipes and planted the seeds and put up scarecrows and all of that. And they probably did it with some help from the local extension agent and maybe a start-up grant from the Department of Agriculture. So if you've got an ear of corn, just remember you didn't grow that – somebody else did. So what I think what we need to do is, we need to sort of spread the corn around. And that's what I've been trying to do these past four years: spread the corn around. 

-- Campaign speech, Dothan, Ala.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

NEXT: Idle Hands

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  1. Once upon a time, there was a special little boy who became president. He said, give me all your goddam money because you don't deserve it and will probably spend it on fatty foods, dope, and monacles to keep in your Swiss bank accounts. So we did. And he built a bunch of clever little drones and bombed brown people. The end.

    1. HE didn't build those drones! Somebody else made them happen... (probably George Bush....)

  2. Once upon a time, there was a country full of poor people and a few rich people who hid their money in big vaults. Well, there was this one guy who promised if the poor people all voted for him, he'd take a bunch of the money the rich people had earned and would take it from them out of fairness. Well the poor people all voted for the guy and then he took all of the money from the rich people, who in turn had to let a bunch of the poor people working for him go because they could no longer afford to pay them.
    Well, that guy told the poor people they only did it because they were greedy and said if they voted for him a second time, he would take even more money from the rich people. To be continued...

    1. Poor people get very little in this country. The big three - military, SS, and Medicare/caid is where the money goes. That is why the Teabag set is so goddamn angry. They don't want their gravy train prorated.

      1. When did I imply that the poor were gonna get any of the money? This war on wealth by Obama is not for redistribution. It's strictly punitive.

        1. What is important is that they intend to give poor people the money (or at least pretend).

          That makes it moral. It just feels right in your guts, ya know? Hell, the fat-cats will just give it to the robber barruns anyway.

          1. Honestly, I'm not even sure the intention is important. The impression that I get is that if you made money (obligatory you didn't earn that!), a lot of it should be confiscated for no particular purpose. On the other hand, if you are the son or daughter of a billionaire and inherit money and start an NGO and fight for "human rights" by allying yourself with a dictator, you should live in a palace.

        2. As are Republican attempts to gut the social safety net? Or is that just fiscal responsibility?

          1. No, fiscal responsibility is actually spending LESS than you TAKE IN. It is really not a difficult concept, but I know it is still above your head. I am glad that you will NOT have a gun when your commitment to the inviolable (and nebulously-defined but EVER-GROWING) "social safety net" leads to the collapse of the American economy and - hopefully- the looting of your domicile.

            1. I am glad that you will NOT have a gun when your commitment to the inviolable (and nebulously-defined but EVER-GROWING) "social safety net" leads to the collapse of the American economy and - hopefully- the looting of your domicile.

              Address, please?

          2. I love how Tony actually thinks Republicans are serious when they talk about cutting spending

        3. It's worse than punitive.

          It'll be given to his lackies in unions, favored donors to line their pockets, and, perhaps worst of all, to government bureaucrats in order to run the goliath.

      2. "Poor people get very little in this country. The big three - military, SS, and Medicare/caid is where the money goes."

        Fine, let's cut the military to 1/4 its current budget. Means-test Social Security and Medicare (enroute to ending them altogether), and leave Medicaid entirely to the states.


        BTW... how can you argue in one sentence that poor people get very little, and then in the very next sentence claim that Medicaid is a major part of where the money's going?

        1. I like your remedy.

          Medicaid is aimed at the elderly poor for sure. The TP still wants it.

          Only 12% of benefits go to non-elderly adults.

      3. "Poor people get very little in this country. "

        And yet, since LBJ and before, they've been the biggest justification for raised taxes.

        Funny how that works out.

    2. You know, if rich people (and specifically low taxes on rich people) actually created jobs like Republicans always say, there would have been more jobs at the end of the Bush Presidency than anytime since before the Great Depression.

      1. Daily Kos is but a click away, Josh.

      2. And if the gov't actually created jobs like Democrats and Leftists have insisted since time imemorial, and if any of those entitlement programs actually worked, well . . .

  3. You didn't tell that story!

  4. Correct. Voters like platitudes like "Morning in America" and "Hope and Change". Obviously the former was the better storytelling.

    Obama should have put on a flightsuit and staged a military reenactment story after he killed bin Laden. Or bought a fake ranch in Texas where he could clear brush on vacations.

    Voters eat the shit up.

    1. Wow you sure got us, shrike. Our devotion to Team Red sloganeering and grandstanding is exposed!

      Protip: next time you burn us all this bad, you ought to end the post with "PWNED!!!!!!" or something equally fucking badass to make sure we're put in our place.

      1. I noticed all the Bush love coming back in yesterday's thread "Where are the Jobs?".

        John and Brutus (among others) were on their knees in fealty.

        1. Notice that most of us are neither John nor Brutus.

          1. As long as there's someone to feed him, he's not going to stop coming back for more.

            1. Speaking of being on ones' knees... shrike...

    2. He is a collectivist Turdpolisher. Your attempt at turd polishing amounts to completely ignoring valid critisizm of the turd and going straight to 'Bush!' . Very few around here give a shit about Bush, so what is your point?

      It is embarrassing really.

      Hey Reason, can we get better trolls please?

      1. The topic was storytelling and I noted that Obama is pretty bad at such. Then I noted how good the GOP is.

        GOP turds polish with a little flag-waving and Gawd references.

    3. Voters like platitudes like "Morning in America" and "Hope and Change"

      Wait, shrike. You voted for Obama, and you'll do it again, and yet here you are bitching about his catchphrase.

      I am amaze.

    4. Obama should stop talking and do like that guy on 'America's Got Talent' and just get kicked in the balls over and over during the campaign.

  5. Alt text: Forked fingers, forked tongue.

  6. 'I believe the person to best explain the loser's agenda isn't Barack Obama but rather Romney, because it's the extreme right-wing agenda that borders on the fascism of the United States,'Chavez told tens of thousands of supporters in the western city of Maracaibo."
    "'In the end, it's the same project,' Chavez said, referring to Obama as "a good guy."

    1. What does Chavez expect to get out of this? Is he just trying to stay in Obama's (presumable) favor?

      1. Team BLUE supporters, in an attempt to have them dictate the American narrative concerning Venezuela.

  7. OT: Charles Shamblin Jr.: Living Stereotype.

    1. Ugh. Thanks for that.

      Used to work closely with one of those guys. I always knew there was something creepy about him but I could never put my finger on what it was. ( I know, I know, thank god I didnt put my finger on it.)

      One day the cops showed up and away he went in cuffs. 157 counts of incest and sexual assault with his grand daughter. Holland Ferrell McMorris, look him up.

      *skin crawling*

  8. I am calling bullshit Hinkle. You made those speeches up to make him sound like a moron. He isnt as bad as all that.

    Oh, wait...never mind.

  9. So if you've got an ear of corn, just remember you didn't grow that

    This meme is still funny.

  10. Once upon a time there was a captious woman who didn't think she could make it to November 6, 2012 without putting bullets through her TV and computer. End of story.

  11. These guys jsut dont seem to have a clue an. WOw.

  12. Note to Taylor Swift,

    you're looking thirty plus there, so do us all a favor, share your cocaine with you're good buddy Selena because she just turned nineteen and she looks closer to twelve.

    Also, the side boob emphasizing wardrobe meets with my approval. Just do something about the rapid aging.

  13. The only thing I got out of this was the burning question: what's the real punchline to the dog in the bar joke ?

    1. 'Which one of you shot mah paw!'

    2. Rats, just realized my Taylor Swift complaint is not in the am links where it belongs. Sorry about that. BTW, her face has always interested in that she reminds me of old pictures from the turn of the twentieth century of Ainu villagers with her rounded forehead, deeply sunken eyes and large nose. I know that she grew up in South East Asia, but her parents surnames Swift and Gardener are pretty common Western European names. Wikipedia doesn't say anything about her lineage.

  14. He left out the part where the government takes the ants stored corn away to give it to the grasshopper because it was the only fair thing to do, and both died of starvation.

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  17. President Obama said today that the biggest mistake of his first term was not being a good enough storyteller?

    Because the economy wouldn't be in the shitter were he only better at telling me why I need to give my hard earned money towards projects that I know will fail.

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  20. So the ant story is the precursor to the "you didn't build that" speech last week. This guy just keeps rehashing the same old crap, almost verbatim.

    Once upon a time there was a kid in a far off land who watched Foreign TV shows with his Dad on a Saturday night. He was smart enough to know that the country from which the tv shows came wasn't full of bad guys like those depicted on the show with the bald, lollipop sucking cop or the show with the blond guy and the dark headed guy with the cardigan thing and the car with the stripe. And he knew that all the rich people weren't the same as those on the shows about the oil and the wine.
    He decided that he would live in that great country one day. But he never won a visa in the great visa lotteries. His applications were rejected because he didn't come from a poor enough country or didn't have the necessary qualifications, but he kept trying.
    But then the war came. The war on terror and the chase for the bad man, and he saw that maybe the great country was somewhat misguided. And then the people of that great country elected a different man. One who promised change and a better life for everybody, but the kid, now a man, knew that this new president was the ultimate career politician and felt that nothing good would come from it. And he was right. (continued)

    1. (continued). The great country had changed, and the kid, now a man, saw that the people of the great country were also different. They were now the same as the people in his own country, expecting handouts and freebies from their government. And so the kid, now a man, decided to stay in his country and start his new business. He did, and found some people in his own country who seemed like the people in that other country did when he was a kid. And now he exports almost half of what his business produces to that previously great country. And while he still yearns to live in that once great country, he knows that he's better off in his own with its lower corporate and personal tax rates.

      Living happily ever anyway.

  21. Considering that he's done little but make up stories one would think that with all that experience he'd be a truly great story-teller.

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