Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Embarrassed by our president

Jerry Stratton, November 19, 2006

This is a little late for veteran’s day, but I taught a Podcasting 101 tutorial last week and for the example podcast I had the students read from the Gettysburg address:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It seems appropriate for veteran’s day this year. However, that’s not why I’m posting it. I chose it because it was a short text that many people are familiar with. It’s also a relatively non-controversial text, unlike the bill of rights that I used to use as an HTML exercise back in the days when people created HTML by hand. Those of you who have read It Isn’t Murder If They’re Yankees have seen the conversation that ensued. In my case, however, I wasn’t fired, though I continued to use it.

But while taking a few paragraphs from Wikipedia for the commentary section of the podcast, I ran across the following quote from the Chicago Times:

The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.

A little research found a few more such references to our President’s silly remarks. The Harrisburg Pennsylvania Patriot and Union:

We pass over the silly remarks of the President; for the credit of the Nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.

It’s amazing what you hear when you listen through a haze of unreasoning partisanship.

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