Before the Speech
I wrote in the last comment thread "that one of recent history's greatest buffoons will shortly mount the podium and grandly proclaim his monumental blunders to the world in triumphant tones. His head, tilted slightly upward and to one side, will swivel majestically -- the better to read the ghostwritten speech projected on the teleprompter. He will gesture to the left and right. And it will be taken in the NYT for profundity."
At predetermined points in the great oration he will pause for effect and deliver deliver a focus-group tested punchline. And then he will end, with some meaningless peroration, that neither he nor his adoring audience understand and stand forth from the lectern, not a hair out of place and not a wit in his head.
And we will clap. No ... not everyone. But more than enough will rise to their feet and without quite knowing why, rhythmically bring their hands together like trained seals. You can almost hear Andrew Sullivan shout: "we have a President!!!"
But I soon realized that I had been anticipated in my themes by Peggy Noonan's much smoother piece in the Wall Street Journal in which she describes in great detail what the mighty orator will soon set out to achieve. She writes:
So what will he say? Some guesses.
He will not really be trying to “convince the public.” He will be trying to move the needle a little, which will comfort those who want to say he retains a matchless ability to move the masses. It will make him feel better. And it will send the world the message: Hey, this isn’t a complete disaster. The U.S. president still has some juice, and that juice can still allow him to surprise you, so watch it.
He will attempt to be morally compelling and rhetorically memorable. He will probably, like Susan Rice yesterday, attempt to paint a graphic portrait of what chemical weapons do—the children in their shrouds, the suffering parents, what such deaths look like and are. This is not meaningless: the world must be reminded what weapons of mass destruction are, and what the indifference of the world foretells.
He will claim the moral high ground. He will temporarily reserve the use of force and welcome recent diplomatic efforts. He will suggest it was his threat of force that forced a possible diplomatic solution. His people will be all over the airwaves saying it was his deft leadership and steely-eyed threat to use force that allowed for a diplomatic break.
The real purpose of the speech will be to lay the predicate for a retrospective judgment of journalists and, later, historians. He was the president who warned the world and almost went—but didn’t go—to war to make a point that needed making.
Then comes Noonan's finest line.
"Get ready for a leak war between Kerry’s staff and Hillary Clinton’s".
This says it all, doesn't it? Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat demands a DNA paternity test. Those of you who think the American political establishment has come to the last stage of shamelessness and degradation and who can't top the last act are wrong. We will soon be treated to the showstopper: the spectacle of so-called "statesmen" trying to pin the rap for this debacle on each other.
What form this will take, how many talk shows they will visit, what grimaces they are even now rehearsing before the mirrors, is as yet unknown. One thing's for sure. It will be a doozy. Someone once said that if you elect clowns you will get a circus. Speaking of clowns, one of opera's great scenes is the crying clown, Pagliaccio.
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor, Ah!
I wish the clowns that we are about to witness had a tenth portion of his dignity and dramatic pathos, instead of simply coming across exactly as what they are: second rate grifters. Ha ha ha ha.
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