Thursday, September 20, 2012

Memories of the Checkers Speech, 60 Years Later

Early in 1952 I learned American Morse code and after I finished the 11th grade I signed on as a telegraph apprentice on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad at Red Rock, up near Kansas.  I was sixteen.  After hours I helped put up television antennas.  60 feet high got you Oklahoma City, and, if you were lucky, Coffeeville, Kansas.  In late September we had a rush order for an antenna on an isolated farmhouse over in Kansas, a tall gaunt house occupied by darkly dressed people with tall gaunt dogs.  When we finished, the owners invited us to stay for something so important that they had bought a television set and hired us to install the antenna. There among snarling dogs and rabid Republicans I got to sit silent and watch the slimiest politician of that generation damn himself, I was confident, by his transparently manipulative Checkers speech.  Keeping silent was easier because I was sure the more or less straight-shooting Eisenhower would drop him from the slate.  
Today I learn that a politician who had previously trashed 47% of the country really loves 100% of the country.

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