Tuesday, January 20, 2015


My fellow Americans. I did not write these words. They were written for me by a team of professional speech-writers. They were tested before small focus groups ahead of time in order to determine their likely impact on the polls. The speech you are about to hear will be devoid of substantive content. Nothing that I will say will be surprising. Ninety percent of what I say could have been said by any of my predecessors in the past forty years. The speech will contain at least two dozen tiresome political cliches. I will pause for just a moment after delivering each of these so that members of Congress and others in attendance will know when to rise and applaud. You will notice that the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Joints Chiefs of Staff seldom will clap. This is their way of maintaining the ridiculous pretense that they are somehow apolitical, when in fact they are some of the most ideologically zealous people you will ever meet, and have been chosen in part precisely because of their ideological zealotry.

I will now insert a word of thanks to the brave men and women of our armed forces. Members of Congress, you will wish to be first on your feet to applaud for them. If you believe that it is not merely absurd but actually insidious and indeed even fascistic to valorize martial virtues over civilian ones, or if you think that it impedes badly needed argument about the conduct of America’s foreign and military policy, you should rise and applaud anyway. To do otherwise would be to commit an immediate act of political suicide, with implications not only for your own career but for your party.

In addition to offering a succession of banal statements written at approximately an eighth-grade reading level, I will also deploy a number of rhetorical cliches. These ring familiar to the ear, like a repetitious hit song, or the formula that drives your favourite Hollywood movies. They have been shown by the marketing and public relations firms that drive so much of our political culture to produce the most statistically favourable poll results. To that end, I will not and shall not just say “will not.”  I can not and will not just say “can not.”  I will also be referring to Americans as “folks” and will never say “taxpayers” without inserting “harding working” in front of it. I promise to make no literary references except to the Bible. My only historical references will be to the Founding Fathers, though I have been advised to downplay Thomas Jefferson.

I have invited guests today to hear the State of the Union Address. They are good people who have done good things for their communities. Some of them have saved peoples’ lives. You will be comforted to know that they have been carefully vetted to ensure that they haven’t done anything in the past that might embarrass me; they have also been selected in a precisely calculated manner so as ensure that their selection plays out favourably in terms of likely and probable voter support.

I wish to stress again that this speech will include no substantive content. For instance, I will not and shall not mention that we borrow money China in order to pay for ridiculously bloated armed forces that irrationally regard China as their greatest foe. And I can not and will not mention that a powerful lobby has somehow convinced millions of Americans that gun crime is unrelated to guns. Or that we alone do not use the metric system. Or that forty percent of you think the world is less than 10,000 years old and that this in turn explains why we are falling behind in scientific achievement relative to the rest of the world. 

Nonetheless, this content-free speech will be analyzed down to the last word by journalists, a very special breed of people paid to write and speak at great length on matters about which they have no professional expertise. They will judge the value of speech – and note once again, that it has none in particular – based on their pre-existing ideological predispositions. They will pay particular attention to the one or two times in this speech when I make a gracious remark about a member of Congress from another political party, like the guy sitting behind me. I can not – and shall not – reveal just how much I hate that guy’s guts. Instead, I will make a point about how great America is by observing that he came from humble origins. You may now applaud.  

Once again I’d like to thank the brave men and women of our armed forces for protecting our freedoms, even if it demonstrably true that our government in the conduct of its foreign and military policy has provided vital political, economic, and military aid to a litany of dictatorships while progressively encroaching on individual liberties at home. I’d also like to thank the hardworking taxpayers who make it possible for us to spend $1.5 trillion on a jet that we don't need and that doesn’t work while our urban infrastructure crumbles.

I do not believe in God but am required by poll evidence to conclude this speech by asking God to bless America, because despite the widely held view amongst the religious that their faith is under attack and in retreat, they constitute an overwhelming majority of the population.  So, God Bless the United States of America. He didn’t stop the Holocaust but maybe he’ll intervene on our behalf in this particular instance, and straighten out a health care system that costs two or three times as much per capita as ones that we deride as being "socialist."  Thank you and goodnight. Especially if you're one of the brave men and women of our armed forces.

1 comment:

Graham Broad said...

This early update brought to you by the brave men and women of our armed forces.