It may be raining and pouring but the old man isn’t snoring. I am snoozing soundly when pulsations charge the air. No, it isn’t my bladder calling or a dislodged blanket. The clock says 1:30 A. M. which translates to 4:30 Manhattan time.
Our Twitter-In-Chief is at it again. Birds are not yet chirping but Donald is tweeting his nocturnal emissions. He has the attention of the entire planet which listens or not at their peril. Does he dream these blurts or set the alarm to wake the world with his tantrums and 140-character manifestos?
Past presidents deliberated over their manuscripts, draft after draft, weighing words with scrupulous exactitude. Even then they didn’t always get it quite right. Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg is regarded as the greatest political oration in history. It is more than that. Those three paragraphs rise to the level of poetic-prose in their concision, lyricism and complexity.
Yet one could challenge its opening sentence. Four score and seven (87) years ago our fathers Did Not bring forth a new nation. He was referencing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and we were not yet a nation but a Confederacy of separate states. That happened twelve years later with the ratification of the Constitution. The notion of State’s rights has been used to extend Southern crimes against Blacks up to the present day.
Of course Lincoln knew his history. He also knew about inequality. His words were aspirational. In addition he spoke with humility, something which has almost disappeared from public discourse since our 45th president took office.
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. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here……
Lincoln was a mensch. Tough, resolute and humble at once. He was both visionary and pragmatist. Deliberate and decisive. Folksy shrewd and idealistic. He read. He listened to his rivals. (He even did a great impersonation of Daniel Day Lewis.) In short he was everything Trump is not.
To have come this far in science and technology, this close to an enlightened version of capitalism…. and then to retreat a century is a punch in the gut. I need my rest; a good six or seven hours with dreams of a better world inside my pillow. A good night’s sleep is a many-splendored thing at my age. It’s the final entitlement they better not take away. Let the nightingale trill and gurgle overwhelming any tweets emanating from the tower. May the bird, in full-throated ease, sing its ode answering those nocturnal emissions.