10 September 2009

Wilsonian Democracy

Upholder of a Glorious Tradition

In the discussion of Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R–SC) outburst during President Obama’s address to Congress last night, many commentators have observed that such a display is unprecedented. On the contrary, however, the United States boasts a robust history of heckling of its President by a member of its Congress. Consider, for example, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I have recently come into possession of a transcript of that speech, including the various asides and commentary made at the time by one Rep. Josiah Wilson (D–OH). It’s remarkable that so few historians have seen fit to record Wilson’s heckling, much less President Lincoln’s ultimate rejoinder.

Fourscore and seven years ago

Hey, genius! Learn to count!

our fathers

Get that — he doesn’t know which one is his father!

brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived

Your momma’s a slut!

in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Shoot, this is boring! Sure wish they’d let me bring my gun in here!

Now we are engaged in a great civil war,

What plan? What bill?

testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived

[Mocking laughter]

and so dedicated, can long endure.

Change the channel! Will no one invent the television so that I might change the channel?

We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

Flanders! Flaaaaaaanders! Heh-heh. Made you look.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

Death panel! Death panel! Death panel!

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

This speech is longer than you are, Abie!

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…

Is that an envelope, for mercy’s sake?

we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow


…this ground.

Get out of the way, gay-boy, and let a real man do it!

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

Stupid loser can’t even add or detract!

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,

Hey! I forgot it already!

but it can never forget what they did here.

Did what?

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here

Hey, tall guy! How come you’re so tall?

to the unfinished work

Loser! Loooooser!

which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

Go back to Africa!

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…

Tax cuts! More tax cuts!

that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause

Who do you think you are — the President?

for which they gave the last full measure of devotion;


that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;

Illinois sucks!

that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth

Sit down, already!

of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

You lie!

Yeah, I remember my first beer, too.


Alex said...


normadesmond said...

might this all have something to do with the name "wilson"?

(av)Uncle(ular) Peter said...

Hilarious, Great! Further publish and circulate, PLEASE.

William V. Madison said...

Something to do with the name "Wilson"? Just a coincidence, surely. (After all, one would not expect Mary Wilson of the Supremes to behave this way.)

Anonymous said...

If you're not careful, someone is going to do a piece about "Madisonian democracy."

-- Rick

Girl From Texas said...

well done ! mocking humor yet also makes a point

William V. Madison said...

As I recall, "Madisonian Democracy" involves getting needlessly ensnared in the Napoleonic Wars and losing your home in a fire. Personally, I think I'd be pretty good at that.

Anonymous said...

You don't seem to know your Federalist Papers too well then.

-- Rick

William V. Madison said...

Aw, the Federalist Papers are the EASY part of Madisonian Democracy!