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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eloquence

All I heard of Obama's speech to the kids was the maxim, "When you give up on yourself, you give up on your country." A snippet from the news. And I just had to shake my head. It's such a lame and obvious attempt to sound patriotic. Gotta drag country into this somehow, cuz I'm the prez. Giving up on yourself has nothing to do with country, except in a statistical way. Kids who give up on themselves don't have country in their frame of reference. Might as well pick any other abstract and insert it. They're giving up on capitalism, or the environment, or whatever.

And he gets the order wrong. Backwards. People who give up on their country give up on themselves. That's what a patriot would understand. Of course Obama gets it wrong. It's just words put in some order that sounds nice. I did it too, when I was a teenager. It's a phase we go through. Words are important in themselves, for a while. Then, later, when we're mature, principles matter. We learn words. We discover principles, through life experience. Why doesn't the president of the United States understand this.

I don't tend to listen to music anymore. I was a musician in my youth, but nowadays I have peculiar ideas about music. No matter. Talk radio, when I'm in the car. Not a lot right now. But one station has been playing a byte from Obama's Inaugural Address. "America," he says, "in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

The "timeless words" are some reference to the hardships of the Revolutionary War. And I won't be needlessly harsh about the grandiloquent formulations -- it's the conclusion of the speech, and high-flown language is standard. But he calls us America. That seems odd. Is that normal? Sounds a little like "you people" to me. Sort of distant and impersonal and other-directed. There's me, and there's you all. Hm. The hope and virtue and braving of icy waters -- well, he's striking a pose. Children's children? Other presidents have used it. But, like, a hundred years ago.

Still, it's awfully poetical. Whoever wrote this is damn talented. He should write something for Barbra Streisand. Let me see if I can do it. Ahem.

Let us go forth then, into the glorious unknown of the future, firm in our conviction that no terror shall afflict our resolve, no hardship shall quench our virtue, no adversity shall prevail over our steadfast commitment to the path we firmly set for that great dream laid out before us by our fathers and our fathers' fathers, that our children, and our children's children, and our children's children's children, and our children's children's children's children, and our children's children's children's children's children -- or maybe that was one children's too many, let's see, five, so yeah, that was right -- and our children's children's children's children's children's children -- okay, I admit it, I'm just copying and pasting now, but isn't all this repetition poetical and rhetorically powerful? -- anyway, that all these children with their babies' mammas shall attain to that ancient promise handed down to us from of old, that all men, and women, and children, and children's children, and children's children's children, shall go forth into the bright and morning sunlight of tomorrow!

Man, I'm good. All that was just one sentence! I don't know why I'm not rich and famous, writing speeches for influential demagogues and living in sybaritic splendor on the miasmic banks of the Potomac. But I am just now starting a new business. Dog shaving. Global warming will be making the globe very warm, so it's a growth industry, get it? I was going to call it The Hot Dog Chop, then Hot Tofu Dogs, then VeggieBurgerPorium, then Jack H's Sensual Dog Massage and Vegan Taco Stand. But I couldn't get a permit from the city, so now I'm going door to door with a pinking sheers and a tub for housewives and shut-ins to soak their feet in. Like I say, it's a growth industry. And I offer backyard dog doo removal as well -- I've got a stick with a nail in it.

I have five blisters from tonight's workout. Two were just rips, and two are blisters under thick callouses. I thought I was a big dog, but under all this hair I turned out to be a vegan taco.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.


J

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