Friday, January 21, 2005

Inaugural Sound And Fury:
The Stuff Of Captions

Michael Gerson's inaugural address, as read by George W. yesterday, was full of it of sound and fury.

Your scrivener now presents highlights from Mr. Gerson's speech, accompanied by corresponding images from yesterday's American Coronation:

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

Poor Michael Gerson!

Michael Gerson, President Bush's 40-year-old speechwriter, had a mild heart attack in mid-December that put him in intensive care for two days. The timing could not have been worse for Mr. Gerson: it was the height of speechwriting season, and Mr. Bush's second Inaugural Address and 2005 State of the Union address were menacingly close.

So two short weeks later, Mr. Gerson was back in the office full time to deal with a boss who has never taken a hands-off approach to his speechwriters' prose.

As recently as late last week, Mr. Gerson said, the president was making significant revisions almost daily to final drafts of the Inaugural Address. Mr. Bush does not write large portions of his speeches himself, but he does like to aggressively prune and to second- and third-guess.
"He reads it in the evening and he'll usually have changes the next day," Mr. Gerson said in an interview on his cellphone on Friday as he paced the halls in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House. "He will take out whole sentences that he thinks are repetitive or interrupt the flow when he's reading it aloud. And then he'll want some explanatory material added." LINK

"Explanatory material," Mr. Gerson?

... a poor player,
That struts and frets upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare
Macbeth, act 5, scene 5

Heavy, heavy sigh.


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