Last year he conceded the biggest failure of his first term was his “failure to tell a story to the American people.” That shortcoming is now the central problem in his efforts on Syria. Where is the speech that tells the story of the history of weapons of mass destruction and why this is a pivotal moment in time? No story. No persuasion. No mass support. No understanding the desire for military action. Such is the power and importance of storytelling.


OBAMA’S GREATEST FAILURE. This was the interview in July, 2012 where he conceded his failure to tell a story to the American people. Notice he dives in with a solid “And, But,” but … he gets lost on the “Therefore.” Nice guy, just not good with the narrative dynamics, which is sadly essential to be an effective president.



I heard a commentator on NPR Saturday morning, pinpoint this in the discussion of Obama’s speech on Syria. He noted the failure of Obama to tell any sort of story about the nerve gassing incident in Syria. The result is despite being several days since the horrific story broke, Obama has done nothing to communicate it to the American public in a narrative context that would sway them into supporting military action.

I open our new book talking about his interview with Charlie Rose in July, 2012 where he conceded he’s not good at storytelling. That shortcoming is now proving to be painfully clear and costly.