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Washington’s Farewell Address Translated into Everyday Speech
February 3, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been president twice now, and I didn’t want to do it either time.
From the "blag" of the wonderful webcomic xkcd.
posted by Anything (29 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of the comments are also interesting
posted by Anything at 10:13 AM on February 3, 2007


Maybe he got tired of killing Indians?
posted by j-urb at 10:23 AM on February 3, 2007


tl;dr
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:25 AM on February 3, 2007


Man, I know like half a crap about who this Washington guy has wasted, just thought it was a good speech, that's all.
posted by Anything at 10:32 AM on February 3, 2007


You done right by me, Anything. This thing is wonderful, and I had no idea the xkcd dude had a weblog, so there's a bonus. Thanks.
posted by cgc373 at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2007


j-urb, on a more serious note: to whatever extent various people were responsible for the genocide in America, fuck them. But so far what I know about Washington is that he's some guy from the history books.

I know I'll be reading more about the subject in the future.
posted by Anything at 11:05 AM on February 3, 2007


Assuming it's a fair translation into modern verbiage, all I can say is: Man. Did we ever fuck that up. I really wish more of the sentiments former president George W. espoused back then were reflected by the current George W.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:08 AM on February 3, 2007


I've just finished reading His Excellency, a relatively recent and very interesting biography of Washington. Here is a better review than I could write... One of the ideas in the book is that Wshington tried to respect treaties with some of the Native Americans, but that folks on the ground really didn't seem to care. Another revelation to me was that Washington's presidency was a 2nd act for hom-- by the time the war was over, he considered himself old & finished and was ready to live out the rest of his life at Mt.Vernon. And Jefferson was something of a twat.
posted by john m at 11:14 AM on February 3, 2007


< and jefferson was something of a twat.>

Was that not yet part of the job description back then? :)
posted by NetizenKen at 11:48 AM on February 3, 2007


I'm very, very tangentially reminded of John M. Ford's Harry of Five Points.
posted by moss at 11:53 AM on February 3, 2007


That's brilliant.

Anything: don't mind the de-railers. It's all they've got.
posted by dhartung at 12:22 PM on February 3, 2007


I find it reassuring that Randall portrayed Washington, a native Virginian, y'alling all over the place.
posted by pax digita at 12:51 PM on February 3, 2007


I found it really interesting too, so thanks. I love it when people try to look at history in a different way to gain new perspective.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:19 PM on February 3, 2007


Oh, and I lurve that Washington started it all with "'Sup." That's hot.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2007


I love it when people try to look at history in a different way to gain new perspective.

Like Holocaust revisionism!
posted by Falconetti at 1:44 PM on February 3, 2007


"Hipsters, Flipsters, and Finger Poppin' Daddies: knock me your lobes."

(Way to Godwin the thread, Falconetti.)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:57 PM on February 3, 2007


i thought about putting this up...thanks for having the sack...
posted by es_de_bah at 3:00 PM on February 3, 2007


Anything: But so far what I know about Washington is that he's some guy from the history books.

Check this out.
posted by russilwvong at 3:32 PM on February 3, 2007


Mmm... I like this. I tried getting through the wikiquote original and while I can understand what he's saying, the older style of speech is just something I ain't used to and it takes a bit of reading over to tease out the meaning. For most people, it wouldn't be worth the effort.

In any case, G. Washington speaks some interesting points on region specific self interest in the United States. He could see that it is ultimately divisive and leads to bickering and squabbling.

But I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. Would a nation that acts completely of one mind be in danger too? Without the sluggishness of the squabbling, bad policy can be implemented much more quickly.

Personally, I think it's somewhere at the middle ground: we are different parts of the nation each with different cohorts and ways we were raised and opinions on politics and that leads to a diversity of views in dealing with political issues, on national issues. Those views, though, should work toward the betterment of everyone in the nation, not just for one group or against another. Compromise. The world is not black and white. It's shouldn't East vs. West, Right vs. Left, Liberal vs. Conservative, everysingledifferentreligionagainst eachother. It should be using different perspectives to build a better United States. We've come a long way from the "of one mind and one religious" background that G. Washington describes as I understand from the translation.

It's always tricky, I guess.
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:37 PM on February 3, 2007


Mister Cheese: He could see that it is ultimately divisive and leads to bickering and squabbling.

It eventually led to civil war. I'd describe that as a bad thing.
posted by russilwvong at 4:08 PM on February 3, 2007


Yeah, I'm caught by that... how to reconcile differences in viewpoint without leading to violent conflict, but still be able to retain your unique identity. I mean, it's something that's happening in the US right now. Think about immigrants: new voices and ideas and ways of living brings up divisiveness. We want immigrants to acculturate to the US, but at the same time I don't think it's reasonable to totally give up one's cultural heritage.

Right now I don't think there's any issue that's divisive enough to espouse anything as terrible as a second civil war here in the US, but I think that it certainly could devolve into terrible arguments and political manipulations that are bad for everyone with what's going on right now.

Oi, I should quite grumbling. I can't wrap my head around it. There's just so much going on, it's no wonder people are only interested in their own shit. I mean, to keep up with how everyone is getting screwed over in the multitude of ways that they are getting screwed over is a real headache.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:47 PM on February 3, 2007


Very cool link, thanks Anything.
posted by event at 5:03 PM on February 3, 2007


Reminds me of the Eisenhower version of the Gettysburg Address.
posted by Ranucci at 5:24 PM on February 3, 2007


Here's H.L. Mencken's "translation" of the U.S. Declaration of Independence into vulgarian English.
posted by John of Michigan at 6:51 PM on February 3, 2007


The origional isn't exactly hard to read. It does have some strangely constructed sentences, which sound pompous today, but it's not hard to read. It is pretty boring, but so is this "translation".

I guess that's a trait he shares with the politicians of today. Have you ever tried to read their speeches? Vapid platitude on vapid platitude.
posted by delmoi at 10:13 PM on February 3, 2007


Sup.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:01 AM on February 4, 2007


From russilvwong's link:

Washington hears the sound of New York under attack, so he mounts his horse to ride to the scene.

Heh. Battlestar Galactica, Season 2, "Valley of Shadows":
CAPT ADAMA: Madam President, make your way to sickbay. Move away from the sound of gunfire.
PRESIDENT: What about you?
ADAMA: Oh, we'll be moving toward the gunfire.

Ah, just had to say that.
posted by dhartung at 2:16 AM on February 4, 2007


Mister Cheese: There's just so much going on, it's no wonder people are only interested in their own shit. I mean, to keep up with how everyone is getting screwed over in the multitude of ways that they are getting screwed over is a real headache.

To me, there's no question that the United States today suffers from bad government. (Which is not to say that it couldn't be worse.) Washington's speech anticipates at least five or six problems:
Bitter partisanship, e.g. the Republican smearing of Democrats as traitors.

The poor quality of public education and public discourse. (Again, look at Washington's original speech.)

Public debt.

Overextended military commitments abroad, including arguably irrational attachments to particular allies (e.g. Israel, Taiwan).

A decline in morality, in particular what I would describe as a decline in responsibility--not just "family values" issues like the divorce rate, but skyrocketing CEO pay (coupled with declining job security), scandals like Enron, the sheer irresponsibility of the Bush administration itself, the popularity of ideologies justifying pure self-interest like Ayn Rand and libertarianism.
There's other problems that Washington didn't anticipate, of course, like politicians' fear of voters and lobbyists.

It's not a pretty picture. The US has a lot of challenges ahead of it.
posted by russilwvong at 12:33 PM on February 4, 2007


The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

Or, in other words:

Control goes back and forth between one party and another, and they just get more and more pissed, and we’ve seen that get really bad in the past. But it also leads to terrible, controlling government and general suckage. This gets the people more angry, they get behind one party leader or another, and that guy just takes that support and does whatever he wants, screwing up the country.

Spot on, Dude. Spot. Fucking. On.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:21 PM on February 4, 2007


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