Thursday, September 24, 2015
Memories of the Checkers Speech, 63 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.
That was 2012. So now we have 12 or 14 candidates for the slimiest Republican man or woman of this generation and you have no more or less straight-shooting Eisenhower. And we have Huckabee embracing Kim Davis and a staffer blocking Cruz who desperately wanted to be out there on the stage hugging Kim Davis. And Cruz reminds me every day of Joe McCarthy. I am retreating, right now, to the American Revolution.