Remember, a few years back, when a pompous New York Times reporter was asked to give a commencement speech at Rockford College, and wound up delivering a tiresome anti-war harangue instead? The guy’s name was Chris Hedges, and he was literally booed off the stage, partly because his message was so tendentious (opening sentence: “I want to speak to you today about war and empire”), and partly because it was incredibly rude of Hedges to spend somebody else’s graduation day giving them a political diatribe.
For future commencement speakers, that’s how you don’t do it. And as another point of reference, here’s how you do do it, courtesy of Vice President Dick Cheney, who gave the commencement address at Auburn University (my alma mater) yesterday. Read the whole thing, as they say. It’s a really nice speech: short, funny, touching, and enjoyable regardless of your politics.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t quote my favorite section here:
I know you’ll always carry with you the Auburn spirit, and fond memories of your time here. You’ll remember the Cater Hall call-outs; the Tiger Walk; the flight of the Eagle; and the music of the fight song played every day at noon. You’ll remember many challenges as well — hard work in the classroom, long nights in the lab or library, and all those hours spent circling the campus, looking for a place to park. (Laughter.) You’ll remember those special places — Samford Hall, Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Concourse, Toomer’s Corner, the Supper Club. (Applause.) And you’ll remember your senior year, for the many fine achievements in academics, research, and athletics, and for a football record of 13 and 0 which sounds a lot like a national champion to me. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: War Eagle!
I still can’t quite believe the Vice President of the United States actually mentioned the War Eagle Supper Club. My only quibble: I would have noted Auburn alumnus Johnny Mike Spann. But it’s still a terrific speech.