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.