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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/ 3/2008

My Fellow Americans, Hear a REAL Comical Speech

By Michael Cavna

The ability to deliver a brilliant political speech with soaring oratory? It's a rare and awe-inspiring thing.


Soon shall we see a "Cynical Act," a "Cynical Missile" or -- gasp -- the New England Cynics? (Creators) Enlarge Comic


Behind the labels, a true message grows. (UPS) Enlarge Comic


Taking stock of the situation... (KFS) Enlarge Comic

The ability to write a political speech that resonates on the right notes? Ehhh, call me skeptical, but I'm not so convinced it's half as difficult a task.

Yes, my fellow Americans, there is that uncommon, extraordinary address that offers poetic narrative and memorable turns of phrases. Yet many speechwriters seem to be borrow liberally from recycled catchphrases, from found material -- from other writers. For every truly inspired writer, there are many dozens who seem to gild a speech by mining the lines of others.

Put your bullion where your mouth is, you say? YOU try cobbling together talking-point rhetoric, smartypants! Okay, let's see here. If even Barack Obama -- so rightly noted for his charismatic oratory -- can lift a punchline from Post political cartoonist Tom Toles, perhaps we, too, can find inspiration in the cartoons. Our assignment for today: Take every last cartoon from today's Post comics pages and -- weaving in language from ALL 40-plus strips -- cobble together a quasi-credible political speech.

So here goes, an oh-so-lofty stump speech delivered in fine stentorian tones -- with all the filched wording from today's funnypages shown in ITALICS:

RACE FOR THE RHETORIC: THE TRULY COMIC SPEECH

My fellow Americans, tomorrow's the big day. Today, we're setting up voting booths as we march toward a dream. Tomorrow, though, is the day to show what you're made of. It's the day to deliver on a promise -- the promise of a better America!

Now, you know and I know we have challenging times ahead. But as president, I promise to show the world my first lesson. You see, friends, challenging times require strong leadership -- leadership that will face reality. The reality of every town, on every Main Street, where regular hard-working folks say to me: "So what's your plan?" Plumbers and nurses and workers like Frazz the Janitor say: 'If you're so smart, which way is the right way?' [Laughing] Why, some regular folks even come up to me and say: "Oh! My! Gawd! Elections! Elections! Elections! I'm Sick of It!

Well, friends, I say, "Wait -- hold up everyone." I say, "Be strong, because cynicism is undermining America!" Because change, and HOPE for change, is coming!

Of course, friends, we must change politics-as-usual in Washington. Entitled lawmakers fight and bark across the aisle like some sort of Cerberus. It's gridlock as Red and Blue "klang" together but accomplish nothing. They play the blame-game and say: "No, I thought you did!!" But, this is what happens...you get the worst. So as a leader, I say to them: "Can we line up and shake hands?" I appeal to the better angels of their nature and remind them: "We have so much in common."

Now, listen: All the bickering -- well, that doesn't matter. We know who did it. All of them are responsible for this mess. It's in Washington, where the flow of pork can seem like the only stream that is still flowing in the swamp. It's on Wall Street, where the insiders are too hasty to say: "It looks like the market is getting back to basics." It's the anti-science naysayers who insist that global warming won't, one day, cover the planet.

Now, as I travel around this great land of ours, some of you say to me: "Where do you stand on the issues? I have no idea." You say to me in St. Pete, "I'd like to elect 'the' man whom I'm confident can fix all the nation's woes and problems." Well, I say, where does my opponent stand on the issues? And I say to you: "He doesn't, he sits." [Laughing, slightly mocking] Though you have to admit, for him, it's a bold way to test approval ratings. [chuckle] But I assure you, fellow Americans, MY dream of change is along a road to where the lost and abandoned can find rest.

Now my opponent accuses me of having the gift of gab. He says of me and my running mate: "That ticket doesn't run for president because they care!" Why, he even accuses me of spreading the wealth, like it's so much Halloween candy. But I promise you: You can say to the government, thanks to my tax cuts for those who making under $250,000: "Hey, those are my treats!" My economic plan gives you time enough to claim them.

So be not fooled by my opponent, who would take your hard-earned money and say: "We're gonna apply for a huge government bailout." My opponent will tell you: "Don't look on it as a tithe...look on it as a commission." Yet under his fiscal plan, everyone knows it's the middle class who get tagged.

Yes, Americans, my opponent is so gullible, he would even turn to a plumber in the crowd and say: "You seem to have a gift for critical insight! Would you like to run as my veep in tomorrow's election?"

Now, look: My campaign is about YOU. It's about the soldier in Walter Reed who still plays Reveille. It's about the hopeful child who, having no money, sends me your teddy bear, or your new fuzzy slippers. It's the grandmother in Scranton who says to me: "You're such a perfect gentleman."

Because my campaign IS about you, my fellow Americans, I want to encourage you to vote tomorrow. Because when we're marching toward a dream, you don't say: "Well, there's always next year." No, when you're at the summit of a dream, there's nothing like the day after. We have no time to waste. We're in the final days of the election! [pause for wild cheering]

So make no mistake: Do not be distracted by "gotcha" games about ACORN and Ayers. The real "acorn," my friend, is this great but slumbering nation, which is ready to grow again, like when an acorn becomes an oak. Some critics will tell you of our mighty oak of a nation: "Oh, how the mighty have fallen." But thanks to hope for a better tomorrow, you can restore this country's towering strength for a literally better TOMORROW.

Thank you. God bless America. Good night. And adios.

Oh. And I approved this ad.

[EDITOR'S ADDENDUM: Upon reflection, my fellow speechwriters, let me just say: You're doing one heckuva job. And my-oh-MY are today's comic pages littered with campaign colloquialisms.]

(NOTE to those who don't see The Post print edition: Today's quoted cartoons are: "Agnes," "Amazing Spider-Man," "Baby Blues," "Baldo," "Beetle Bailey," "Big Nate," "Blondie," "Brevity," "Brewster Rockit," "Candorville," "Classic Peanuts," "Cul de Sac," "Curtis," "Dennis the Menace," "Family Circus," "Frank and Ernest," "Frazz," "Garfield," "Get Fuzzy," "Hagar the Horrible," "Judge Parker," "Lio" (with different spelling of "Cerberus"), "Little Dog Lost," "Mark Trail," "Mother Goose and Grimm," "Mutts," "Non Sequitur," "On the Fastrack," "Pearls Before Swine," "Pickles," "Piranha Club," "Pooch Cafe," "Prickly City," "Red and Rover," "Rhymes With Orange," "Sally Forth," "Sherman's Lagoon," "Speed Bump," "Tank McNamara," "Watch Your Head," "Zippy the Pinhead," "Zits.")

By Michael Cavna  | November 3, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Next: Calvin or Pogo--Who Should Be Character-in-Chief?

Comments

Re Lio: That's not a "different spelling" of Cerberus. It's a *wrong* spelling of Cerberus. He confused it with Cerebus the Aardvark. How come the cartoon syndicates don't employ copy editors?

And as long as I'm ranting, could we please lob a grenade or two in the general direction of comics.com? Whatever they think they're doing to improve their site, they've destroyed it, and I can't read any of their strips.

Posted by: delfin88 | November 3, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Michael -

Don't know if you're gonna mention it today, but I really loved the last Opus strip.

[AVOIDING SPOILER] was a fine place for Opus to end up.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 3, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

sfe

Posted by: oceanchild | November 3, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, was having issues with the Post's new commenting thing.

I second delfin's rant about comics.com. They have just gone from bad to worse.

Posted by: oceanchild | November 3, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

The good thing about comics.com is that you can now have them email as many strips as you want. I went from one (9 Chickweed Lane) to about 5 that don't appear in the Post and 3 political cartoonists too.

Posted by: Mrhode | November 3, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

You're really treading on the toes of the Style Inivitational with this assignment.

BEWARE: those guys are CrAzY!

Posted by: MSchafer | November 3, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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