Sunday, May 08, 2005

Honoring our war dead: Bush versus Lincoln 

I know my Lincoln and, Inerrant Boy, you're no Lincoln.

Lincoln at Gettsysburg:

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
(via National Archives)

Bush Masstricht, the Netherlands:

Today we join them at this hallowed ground. We come first to remember the young Americans who did not live to comb gray hair. Each man or woman buried here is more than a headstone and a serial number; each person here has a name that is precious to some family. And in faded black and white photographs, each one here looks back at us in the full glow of youth: the fresh-faced American in uniform; the newly minted officer with a smiling sweetheart on his or her arm; or the young dad traveling, holding a baby son or daughter on his knee. Every one of these Americans added his own unique contribution to the story of freedom.
(via AP

[Give a minute here; my B.S.S. is spiking, and I've got to go deal with the side effects. OK, I'm back. Thanks.]

A few points of comparison:

1. Where Lincoln is concise, Bush is verbose (246 words versus 1300).

2. Where Lincoln doesn't use one cliche, Bush uses nothing but ("smiling sweetheart," "glow of youth," "newly minted," and, of course, "story of freedom.")

3. Where Lincoln doubts his "poor power" to "hallow" the battlefield, Bush has no doubts at all; He uses "hallowed" as just another cliche.

4. Bush, unlike Lincoln, ends his speech with "May God bless you all," suggesting that he is not only, as the Constitution has it, the nation's Chief Magistrate, but also, in his own mind, its Chief Priest. (This would explain why Bush also has no doubts about whether the battlefield is "hallowed.")

5. Lincoln feels no need to mention the soldier's families; only the sacrifice they made to preserve the Union. Bush's speech is riddled with "family-friendly" cliches.

And finally, unpleasant though this is to say, it has to be mentioned:

6. Lincoln's speech is not riddled with bizarrely unresolved sexual tension; Bush's is. Two examples:

(a) Bush: "The newly minted officer with a smiling sweetheart on his or her arm." Er, what's with that "his or her"? Is Bush talking about a gay officer with "his or her" sweetheart, or not?

(b) Bush: "[T]he young Americans who did not live to comb gray hair." This awkwardly worded sentence makes no sense; for one thing, it leaves out those whose hair was turned grey by the war; it leaves out those with crewcuts, or who retained a military buzzcut; and it leaves out...

Wait for it...

the bald.

Why, I wonder, would that be? Is there a reason that bald is a word that Bush can't bring himself to say?

What a loser.

corrente SBL - New Location
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