I’m Keeping the MuttMarch 20, 2008
This past Tuesday, Barack Obama, facing arguably the most challenging moment of his young political career, tried to explain his long relationship with the bigoted, Pit Bull of a Pastor, Jeremiah Wright, by delivering what I suppose will be known as, “The Race Speech,” carefully chosen for oration in Philadelphia, PA, the “City of Brotherly Love.” In just under 5,000 words* of nuance, we learned the story of Barack’s life and family, a refresher in United States history, the hardship and hope of a young female Obama supporter in South Carolina, and that Jeremiah Wright, sharp teeth and a spiked collar notwithstanding, was a “keeper.”
*(Today’s Trivia FYI: The Declaration of Independence is only 1,324 words in length).
“…I can no more disown him (Pastor Jeremiah Wright) than I can disown the Black community…” ~ Senator Barack Obama
In 1952, another young rapid riser on point for the White House, 38 year old Senator Richard Nixon, found his air brakes after a sensational headline appeared in the New York Post stating, “Secret Rich Men’s Trust Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond His Salary.” The headline appeared just a few days after Eisenhower had chosen him as his running mate. Amid the shock and outrage that followed, many Republicans urged Eisenhower to remove Nixon from the ticket before it was too late.
Nixon, however, in what was seen as a brilliant political coup, just like Obama, threw it back, covered in nuance, to the American people via the new medium of television in a nationwide hookup. As with Obama, in just under 5,000 words, Nixon offered an explanation of his life, family and finances, a refresher in United States politics, the hardship and hope of an unidentified young female Nixon supporter, and that Nixon and the little dog named Checkers given as a present to his young daughters, were “keepers.”
“…I want to say right now that regardless of what they say, we’re going to keep it (Checkers, the dog).” ~ Senator Richard Nixon
This, of course, would forever be known as Nixon’s “Checkers Speech,” and a huge political triumph for Nixon. An ecstatic Eisenhower requested Nixon to come to West Virginia where he was campaigning and greeted Nixon at the airport with, “Dick, you’re my boy.” Ike went on to win the election by a landslide, never realizing a line with the reference to “boy” quite possibly could be a career-ender some 50 plus years into the future, giving pause that perhaps the adage should be changed to; “Old Generals do die, bad memories never fade away.”
In closing, two brilliant maneuverers and public speaking marvels in Barack Obama and Richard Nixon before him, gave us collectively 10,000 words of political rhetoric, roughly saying saying the same thing, “I’m Keeping the Mutt.”