Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Speech of All Speeches

Election cycles bring high and noble words written in speeches and spoken from stumps, railcars, and You Tube videos. In every cycle the speeches are different, but somehow the same. Many hear the speeches for the first time or as if it were the first time and swoon in wonder and awe. Others listen hearing only the same tired rhetoric they have heard for a lifetime. It is the same now, but somehow something is different.

Andrew Parker Nevin, Princeton Class of 1895 and Republican nominee to the Supreme Court, wrote a speech to end all speeches published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly 14 August 1936, according to the Mudd Manuscript Library Blog. The speech he wrote didn't stop future speeches, but has been copied and plagiarized in many ways, mundane and inventive. We've all heard variations on the theme written here:

An Address for All Occasions
Subject: The Crisis
(or any other topic)

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is indeed a great and undeserved privilege to address such audience as I see before me. At no previous time in the history of human civilization have greater problems confronted and challenged the integrity of man's intellect than now. Let us look around us. What do we see on the horizon? What forces are at work? Whither are we drifting? Under what mist of clouds does the future stand obscured?

My friends, casting aside the raiments of all human speech, the crucial test for the solution of these intricate problems, to which I have just alluded, is the sheer and forceful application of those immutable laws which, down the corridors of time, have always guided the hand of man, groping, as it were, for some faint beacon-light for his hopes and aspirations. Without these great vital principles, we are but puppets, responding to whim and fancy, failing entirely to grasp the hidden meaning of it all. We must readdress ourselves to these questions which press for answer and solution. The issues cannot be avoided. There they stand. It is upon you - and you - and yes, even upon me, that the yoke of responsibility falls.

What then, is our duty? Shall we continue to drift? No! with all the emphasis of my being I hurl back the message: No! Drifting must stop. We must press onward and upward toward that ultimate goal to which all must aspire.

But I cannot conclude my remarks, dear friends, without touching briefly, on a subject which I know is steeped in your very consciousness. I refer to that spirit that gleams from the eyes of the newborn babe; that animates the toiling masses; that sways all the hosts of humanity, past and present. Without this energizing principle all commerce, trade, and industry are hushed and will perish from this earth as surely as the crimson sunset follows the golden sunrise. Mark you, I do not seek to alarm or distress the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, gathered before me in this assemblage; but I would indeed be recreant to a high resolve, which I made as a youth, if I did not at this time and in this place, and with the full realizing sense of responsibility which I assume, publicly declare and affirm my dedication and my consecration to the eternal principles and precepts of simple, ordinary, commonplace Justice.

For what, in the final analysis, is Justice? Where does it go? Is it tangible? It is not. Is it tactual? It is not. Is it ponderable? It is not. Justice is none of these, and yet, on the other hand, in a sense, it is all of these things combined. While I cannot tell you what justice is, this much I can tell you - that without the encircling arms of justice, without her shield,, without her guardianship, the ship of State will sail uncharted seas, narrowly avoiding rocks and shoals, headed inevitably for the harbor of calamity.

Justice! - Justice!! - Justice!!! - To thee we pay homage. To thee we dedicate our laurels of hope. Before thee we kneel in adoration, mindful of thy great power, mute before thy inscrutable destiny ....

(Secondly, thirdly, and fourthly can be taken up by the speaker at any point in the foregoing.)
We have heard this speech more this election cycle than in the recent past. It is the essential model of the presumptive Democrat Party nominee, Barack Obama. The words sound nice, they're lofty, pretty, dangerous, and as inviting as the Siren's song was to Odysseus. To borrow from Carl Reiner and the writers of "The Dick Van Dyke Show", Obama's words "seem vague, but in reality are totally meaningless."

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Gayle said...

Exactly, Indigo! He talks a lot but says absolutely nothing! I don't see how so many people can be so absolutely clueless, but they are. We have to have a president that can do more than just talk without saying anything. Sheesh!

Mike's America said...

Indigo. I thought for SURE you would have answered the quiz question correctly:

Mike's America said...

Half right Indigo. Right person, wrong scandal. But I figured you would at least get the person right.

No one else even had a clue even though the title of the post was:

"First Ladies for a Hundred Please Alex."

Really! How much easier could I make it?

dcat said...

He has the political bullshit down pat Indigo :D :D :D