Many years ago, there was a President so exceedingly fond of hyperbole that he spent all his money on political spin. He cared nothing about preparing a balanced budget or tending to matters of state, except to campaign for his next election. He had a catch-phrase for every hour of the day, and instead of saying as one might about any other ruler, “The King is in council,” here they always said, “The President is on the campaign trail.”
In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. Every day, many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were spin doctors, and they said they could weave the most magnificent excuses for not properly governing the country. Not only were their techniques effective, but the excuses had a wonderful way of clouding the truth about reality. So much so, that anyone challenging the excuses would be considered unfit and unusually stupid.
“Those would be just the excuses for me,” thought the President. “If I use them, I would be able to discover who in my empire can separate fact from fiction and the fools who cannot. Yes, I certainly must have them work for me.” He paid the two spin doctors a large sum of money to start work at once.
They set up offices and pretended to work, though there was nothing special to do as the President himself could not differentiate between fact and fiction.
“I’d like to know how those spin doctors are getting on with the excuses,” the President thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to detect the truth. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself; yet he thought he’d rather send someone else to see how things were going.
“I’ll send my honest old Press Secretary,” the President decided. “He’ll be the best one to tell me how the excuses sound, for he’s a sensible man and no one knows spin better.”
So the honest old Press Secretary went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away. Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to read the excellent excuses they had written, all of which blamed scapegoats for the country’s problems. The poor old Press Secretary stared as hard as he dared, but he couldn’t grasp the excuses. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I know the President is honestly at fault, but not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the Press Secretary? It would never do to let on that I don’t know what catch phrases like ‘Hope and Change’, ‘Pay their Fair Share’ and ‘Forward’ truly mean.”
“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of the excuses,” said one of the spin doctors.
“Oh, it’s brilliant, quite enchanting.” The old Press Secretary peered through his spectacles. “Such a line of BS! I’ll be sure to tell the President how delighted I am with it.”
“We’re pleased to hear that,” the spin doctors said. They proceeded to name all of the scapegoats, including Bush, the GOP, the 1%, whites, capitalism, and, of course, evil American business. The old Press Secretary paid the closest attention so that he could tell it all to the President. And so he did.
The spin doctors at once asked for more money to get on with the deceptions. And it all went into their pockets.
The President presently sent another trustworthy campaign manager to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the Press Secretary. He looked and he looked, but he couldn’t tell fact from fiction.
“Aren’t these good excuses?” the swindlers asked him. But the campaign manager realized the President was to blame, not the scapegoats.
“I know I’m not stupid,” the man thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the excuses. To the President he said, “It held me spellbound.”
The President wanted to see for himself what his two old trusted officials were excited about. Attended by a band of chosen men, he set out to see the two spin doctors. He found them writing with might and main.
“Magnificent,” said the two officials already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what excuses!” They pointed to the papers that contained a scapegoat for each of the President’s botched policies on economics, energy, immigration, health care, and foreign relations.
“What’s this?” thought the President. “You mean I am innocent of any wrongdoing? This is excellent! What a charade to pull on the people. Oh! They’re marvelous,” he said. “It has my highest approval.” Nothing could make him admit he had made a mistake.
His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the President in exclaiming, “Oh! These are awesome excuses,” and they advised him to tell the excuses to the country. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased.
Before the State of the Union address, the spin doctors sat up all night prepping the teleprompters to show how busy they were.
Then the President himself came with his noblest nobleman, the Vice President, and the spin doctors reviewed the list of excuses with him. “This is the record you should run on, your Excellency.” The President gathered up the papers and turned again for one last look in the mirror. He seemed to regard his looks with the greatest interest.
So off went the President to deliver his State of the Union address. Afterwards, he left proudly in procession through the streets of the capitol. Everyone on the sidewalks and in the windows waved and said, “Oh, how fine the President looks. His speech was so meaningful. It will send the country in the proper direction.”
“But you still haven’t solved our problems,” a little child said. “Do you think we’re all fools? That was some of the worst BS I have ever heard. Although you keep blaming others, it was YOUR fiscal policies that caused our debt to skyrocket, to lower our credit ratings, to cause unemployment to stagnate above 8%, to cause us to be more dependent on foreign energy, and scare business away from our shores. How long are you going to continue to lie to the country?”
“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said the child’s father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t solved our problems. A child says he hasn’t solved our problems.”
“But you haven’t solved our problems!” the whole town cried out in unison.
The President shivered, for he knew they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, followed by his czars and cronies with his head held high and reading from his teleprompters that it was still all Bush’s fault.
Keep the Faith!
(With Apologies to Hans Christian Anderson)
(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
For Tim’s columns, see:
Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
Please share this post with your friends and comment below. If you haven’t already, take a moment to sign up for our free newsletter above and friend us on Twitter and Facebook to get real time updates.