January 11, 2017

I'm not much of a live-blogger anymore. I'm mostly a wait-for-the-transcript blogger.

I watch the Sunday shows and scribble key words to find in the transcript for later blogging. And those are morning shows. I'm so much less willing to write on the fly, doing my own transcriptions, at night, especially in winter. Darkmonth ended a week ago, but winter darkness still sends me to sleep at the time you'd like for your child's bedtime.

Like Sasha, I was a no-show for President Obama's big Farewell Address. I'm not going to complain that it was long. George Washington started the tradition, and his Farewell Address was long — over 6,000 words. It was written on what we today call the 18th grade level, according to the readability tool I use. That tool also says GW used 0 clichés, but that's unimpressive in a way. Since he wrote so long ago, some of his fresh phrasings should have become clichés. 
I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view [my errors] with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Is "mansions of rest" not a cliché? Was it a cliché at the time? I believe it alludes to the words of Jesus:
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Jesus spoke those words out loud, but Washington's Farewell Address was a written letter to the American people, published in the newspaper. That makes the length more tolerable. Jesus kept it short. (Jesus would have tweeted, don't you think?) Washington wrote before the new President was chosen, and indeed, his main point was that he didn't want a third term. Pick somebody else.

Obama — who seems to have wanted a third term — went long. It was about 5,000 words — on the 6th grade level — and spoken out loud. He spoke in the largest convention center in the United States.



That's McCormick Place in Chicago. Jesus spoke to big crowds too — but it was outdoors and with no amplification. He must have shouted lines like "Blessed are the meek." I wonder if the Sermon on the Mount was punctuated with applause like the Sermon in Chicago last night. Another reason I wait for the transcript is that I find all the applause interruptions exasperating. Any fluidity, any intimacy is lost in the cavernous, clamorous space.

I chose to sleep and to wake up to a written Farewell Address, and I will live-blog my reading of it in the next post. I'm well-rested, and I hope Sasha is too. It was a school night, and she shouldn't be flying to Chicago. And she's 15. She doesn't have to like sitting through another lecture from her father.

30 comments:

Unknown said...

To Russia with Love. There is more stuff coming out about Trump's love for all things Russian. Trump will be impeached in time. We are not Trump "haters" but people who know the US public has been conned.

Do continue to sing Trump's praises but you will be the ones with a lot more than egg on your faces.

David Begley said...

1. Alexander Hamilton wrote Washington's Farewell Address.

2. Per Fr. James Martin, S.J., when Jesus addressed the crowd from a boat, his voice was amplified by the water and the cove where his boat was.

Mark said...

My social media feed was about 60% Obama (pro and con) and 40% #GoldenShowers last night.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Jesus didn't wait for applause at the appropriate spots.

PB said...

Obama put on a fine performance. He reads a speech well. After he's gone, the city of Chicago is going to face some very hard times without the extra federal money that has flowed their way.

David Begley said...

I watched about one minute but in that time the audience kept screaming and competing with Obama. This happens all the time today. More than rude.

Luke Lea said...

Jesus would have tweeted, don't you think?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

[Alas, like so much Jesus said, these two tweets got garbled in transmission.]

Earnest Prole said...

Stale allusions are clichés. Fresh allusions are not.

JAORE said...

"She doesn't have to like sitting through another lecture from her father. "

See,Obama has finally found a common cause to bring us together.

MayBee said...

Speaking of Sasha, what is Malia doing this year? She's on a gap year. She's 18. Surely she's doing something.

MayBee said...

Anyway, I think he needed the adoration one more time. The next time he has a cheering crowd like this, it will be at a Democratic National Convention and someone else (who?) will be the big star.

This was his Sally Fields talking a trip to the mall scene from "Soap".

Brando said...

No interest in seeing it--his presidency was mostly about nothing. Certainly his second term was just a bunch of nothing getting done, and left nothing memorable. There was the botched ACA rollout, but that was just the aftermath of what he passed in the first term.

When's the last time a president had a good second term? Reagan's had some foreign policy and tax reform accomplishments, but some scandal too. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Nixon, LBJ--some pretty awful second terms there.

The only "farewell" presidential address I remember seeing was Reagan's, and remember being very impressed particularly since I was a kid and was raised to think Reagan was a bad president. But that speech (as well as his speech after the mass murder in Lebanon) was very well done and made me rethink him.

damikesc said...

Probably best to always wait for a transcript. Gives more of a chance to get a good, intellectual take and make one less likely to get "caught up in the moment"

Darrell said...

Obama fed the whole crowd in Chicago with five baskets of arugula and two dogs. Afterward, ushers collected twelve basketfuls of arugula leaves and dog parts.

Hagar said...

If the name of our next president (after Trump) is Alex Man afraid of his horse, will that also be "a historic breakthrough"?

Danno said...

Blogger Darrell said...Obama fed the whole crowd in Chicago with five baskets of arugula and two dogs. Afterward, ushers collected twelve basketfuls of arugula leaves and dog parts.

Good thing I didn't have my coffee cup in hand or coffee in my mouth. Excellent!

Danno said...

Ann, your analysis and comments simmered over your kettle with a dash of cruel neutrality are much better than an instant concoction. Live blogging is overrated.

David said...

"I'm well-rested, and I hope Sasha is too. It was a school night, and she shouldn't be flying to Chicago. And she's 15. She doesn't have to like sitting through another lecture from her father."

Tired of him, you are. Not sure I agree with you about Sasha. Was she going to get anything done anyway if she stayed home alone? The end of your father's presidency is a big deal, and perhaps she really wanted to go.

The dilemma was created, of course, by her father's decision to make this into an extravaganza rather than make an address on TV from the White House. As you point out in your next post, the most remembered farewell addresses (Washington, Eisenhower) were notable for their humility. Interesting that this humility came from two of our greatest military leaders, neither of them intrinsically humble men.

David said...

"Speaking of Sasha, what is Malia doing this year? She's on a gap year. She's 18. Surely she's doing something."

Whatever it is, the low profile is appropriate. There are (and will continue to be) numerous terrorists who would be very pleased to kill her.

Ann Althouse said...

I assume she's writing a memoir.

Darrell said...

I assume she's writing a memoir.

Yeah, "Dreams of MY Father. And my mother. Whoever They Are."

roesch/voltaire said...

We can snipe if we like, but Obama again demonstrated what a good human being who values democracy is like, and what a contract to the incoming boy.

Darrell said...

Obama was nothing more than a puppet for the small "c" communists that put him in power. Never had a plan or idea of his own. He did a good job of reading what they put in front of him, though. And he is now set for life.

Sebastian said...

"Jesus spoke to big crowds too — but it was outdoors and with no amplification. He must have shouted lines like "Blessed are the meek." I wonder if the Sermon on the Mount was punctuated with applause like the Sermon in Chicago last night." If you're gonna sermonize from a mount, you're gonna need amplification.

mockturtle said...

Another reason I wait for the transcript is that I find all the applause interruptions exasperating. Any fluidity, any intimacy is lost in the cavernous, clamorous space.

Well said, Ann. Maybe farewell 'tweets' or online videos will suffice for future Presidents.

Terry Vance said...

Spectator I: I think it was "Blessed are the cheesemakers".
Mrs. Gregory: Aha, what's so special about the cheesemakers?
Gregory: Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

mockturtle said...

Terry Vance: ;-D

ken in tx said...

About Sasha, I once had a Wing Commander who was notorious for long speeches. He spoke at his daughter's high school graduation and she walked out on it. She is supposed to have said, "I have to listen to his crap at home. I don't have to listen to it here."

mockturtle said...

Bill Clinton's speeches were always much....too.....long.

veni vidi vici said...

Most notable thing about this Farewell Address is that the Goldengate bedwetting story caused Obama to gain no more than a few hours, and far less than even a single news cycle, from the speech. Trump's subsequent presser the next day compounded the erasure.

So, at the end of Obama's time, we are shown by fate that he who lives by the "Words, just words..." dies by them as well.