Tag Archives: speeches

on hope

the president elect

“Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.” -Barack Obama, after winning the Iowa Caucus

Four years ago, I cast my very first presidential ballot. I was 19, living in one blue state and voting absentee in another, and there was something vaguely unsatisfying about putting a little X next to John Kerry’s name. I was voting against George W. Bush—who terrified me, a memory that’s hard to reconcile with our 2008 keep-as-low-a-profile-as-possible president. Bush’s first term marked a strange time to grow into a thinking member of the electorate: September 11th, the hyper-patriotism that followed, the lead-up to the war in Iraq, the invasion of Baghdad, the Patriot Act, and Abu Ghraib. I didn’t think we could afford four more years, but a slim majority of the American public disagreed with me. I cried on election night, and when I woke up the next morning, I wrote an editorial for the campus newspaper that basically endorsed resigned disillusionment. There was hope and there was fear, and the latter had prevailed. Reading over the piece now, this passage stands out:

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you’re not helping

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” – Thomas Jefferson 

A few weeks ago – right around the time that he and Nancy Pelosi ordered superdelegates to rally around Barack Obama – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came to speak at the Commonwealth Club. He has a new book out, one that chronicles his journey from a ridiculously impoverished childhood to success on Capitol Hill. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or heard the senate majority leader; he just might be the most unassuming, mild-mannered (meek) politician in Washington. Plugging his book on “The Daily Show” a few days earlier, the senator was weirdly unresponsive; Jon Stewart had to stop short of waving a hand in front of his face and asking if he was still awake. Basically, you wouldn’t expect him to invoke the vitriol of the far Left. You’d think that they’d save that for one of the Club’s (many) conservative speakers. If that’s the case, maybe you’ve never heard of Code Pink.

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six words can tell a story

“Brevity: a good thing in writing. Exploited by texters, gossip columnists, haikuists. Not associated with the biography genre. But then – why shouldn’t it be? Life expectancies rise; attention spans shrink. Six words can tell a story.”   -Lizzie Widdicombe, “Say It All in Six Words,” The New Yorker 

In the spirit of (shameless) cross- and self-promotion, I’d like to direct your attention to this article I wrote for SMITH on Tuesday, Notes from the Master of the Six-Word Meme. Yes, that’s me. The Master of the Meme. I’m thinking of putting that on my business cards. I guess I have to get business cards first. A meme, as I explain in the article, is the internet’s version of a chain letter. The one I’ve been following for the past four months asked people to take our concept – the six-word memoir – and write their own, tagging five other bloggers with the task. It’s easy, it’s fun, and people seem to love it; googling “six word memoir” and “meme” together yields 109,000 results. I’m not saying I’ve read every single one. But I have seen hundreds, thousands – many – and, for better or for worse, I’ve learned a whole lot about the blogosphere along the way. I’m not going to say anymore here, but please click the link if you’re interested. Summing it all up over at SMITH has  helped me to put the entire experience in perspective.

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this ain’t news

“The assumption that it was done to conceal a crime is just that: an assumption … This ain’t news.” -Attorney General Michael Mukasey  

Where have these people been for the past six months?  Tap dancing at John McCain rallies?  Butchering Tom Jones classics?  Or maybe they’ve been reveling in their perceived political irrelevance and slipping in the same old policies under the radar.  At this point, it can’t be all that hard: no one seems to be paying any attention. After all, would you rather hear about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the way Barack Obama likes his eggs?  Some of us have been tired of George W. Bush for seven years; just about everybody’s tired of him now.

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the place to be

Well this is, as you can tell, my first book tour. It’s the first book I’ve ever written, and I can’t tell you how much I love it! I walk around the house hugging it. I love the heft of it and the permanence of it and I even love the fragrance – a fresh book has a fragrance to it. I try to sneak looks at it but my wife catches me every time. She says, “Put the book down!'” -Roger Mudd

I can’t imagine having a conversation with a national news anchor. Wolf Blitzer is too scary, Brian Williams is too polished, and so many of the rest seem to let the teleprompter do all the work. I can imagine meeting Anderson Cooper at a cocktail party and getting really flustered. But their unapproachability gives them this false air of authority, boosted by slick graphics and intense theme music. People wax nostalgic for the old network newscasts and those steady, honest anchors. They probably weren’t particularly accessible, but at least they seemed smart, trustworthy, and genuinely charming. I get frustrated when older journalists rail against our generation and the bleak future of reporting, but when I went to see one of those old anchors a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think that we’re all missing out on something these days.

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a starting point

I’ve been talking about doing this for a while. I’ve been thinking about doing it for like a year and a half. But I couldn’t start a blog just like that; I needed some sort of focus, something to keep it from turning into a laundry list of my daily activities or a whiny rant about the rude people on the bus. There are a million people out there blogging with a focus – moms, joggers, cooks, bird watchers, people who think it’s charming to write from the perspective of their dogs. Maybe it goes without saying, but none of those categories really work for me.

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