Gettysburg Address on PowerPoint

Political rhetoric is not what it used to be. No politician can get away with the heroic style these days. Today one of my friends sent me the Gettysburg Address on PowerPoint. The irony is that we all know that is how it would be if Lincoln did it today.

Remember that the Battle of Gettysburg was in 1863. The battle took place well into the North. Didn't that show the Southerners could not be defeated? In the election campaign of 1864, the Democrats advocated a cut and run strategy. They figured they should negotiate with the South, maybe bring in other powers like the Brits or the French to help mediate. Lincoln obviously had mismanaged the war. A large number claimed to be in favor of protecting the Union, but they were even more interested in peace, they said. Lucky they didn’t have PowerPoint in those days.

BTW - what did Lincoln say to the clerk at the adult bookshop?

Send it to my Gettysburg address.

Posted by Jack at May 4, 2007 10:35 PM
Comment #219454

That is awesome. Man, Lincoln was an amazing president, ahead of his time we were blessed with him. I just wonder if the ACLU is trying to erase the “nation under God” part from our memory.

Posted by: andy at May 4, 2007 11:06 PM
Comment #219460

To make this ridiculous analogy consistent, Lincoln should be compared with Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: phx8 at May 4, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #219463

What analogy? The PowerPoint?

The rest, as they say, is just history. Besides the joke, is anything incorrect in that history? I think they called them copperhead in those days. Do we have any copperheads today?

Posted by: Jack at May 4, 2007 11:50 PM
Comment #219466

Jack, have a little imagination. Sure you might get the powerpoint version. or you might get a soundbite. Good rhetoric, though, is not dead. You just have to find the right video on youtube.

The ability to view video on demand, for people to effectively become their own programmers, and the ability of online video to contain long form speeches and the like enables viewers to let their attention spans expand to fight whatever material they choose.

We should not underestimate the value of a good speech. Technology destroyed intricate answers, now its recreating it. A Congressman whose rhetoric is particularly inspired might find their speech broadcast on the internet.

As for civil war comparisons? I would hardly dignify Bush’s war effort with such lofty comparison. Lincoln managed a good war effort, and managed, despite the worst political rupture of all time in our country, to be a more civil, conciliatory and uniting force with a country split in two than Bush managed to be with a nation united behind him.

The Republicans are trying to elevate this man by association, by taking every uncertain point in past wars and alleging without much of a factual case that things are the same here.

Lovely rhetoric, but the policy still sucks, regardless of how you try to spin dark times in our nation’s past.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2007 12:17 AM
Comment #219468

To fit whatever material they choose, not fight. Sorry.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2007 12:29 AM
Comment #219469

During the American Civil War, Lincoln was leader. He kept the country together by sheer force. He put down an insurrection. Hundreds of thousands died. He died by the hand of an insurrectionist.

For over twenty years and through several wars, Saddam Hussein was leader. He kept the country together by sheer force. He put down insurrections by Kurds and Shias. Hundreds of thousands died. He died by the hands of insurrectionists.

The Copperheads of the American civil war have no real equivalent in the Iraqi civil war; there are no Iraqi Copperheads, unless you count the separatist tendencies of the Kurds.

Posted by: phx8 at May 5, 2007 12:36 AM
Comment #219475


You just made up for the jokes Bush didn’t tell at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

How about we start seeing more Iraq war vets telling jokes? Oh, well…………the IAVA has some pretty entertaining video:

Then again they’re only war veterans so they probably don’t count. At least not if they’re complaining.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 5, 2007 2:31 AM
Comment #219477

Actually, as distractions go, your’s is “minor league” compared to this:

Bush vows to veto abortion-rights bills;_ylt=AprZoF.mg1DBg1Q76ZqKVrjMWM0F

“There’s nothing specific pending right now,” White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday.

Wow, there’s nothing going on regarding this issue, but we feel it’s more appropriate to talk SHIT than to face facts!

I feel impeachment is needed, in fact I think a precedent needs to be set. The POTUS needs to be removed for mental incompetence!

If you’re on the ‘inside’ you should help remove him gracefully.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 5, 2007 2:56 AM
Comment #219478

All you Dems must feel guilty or something. I wrote a post re PowerPoint (I think the PP is very funny and a lot like many I have seen). I give a bit of history. I never mention Bush, Iraq or anything that happened after 1865. Yet you all think Lincoln is Bush.

Posted by: Jack at May 5, 2007 6:16 AM
Comment #219481


You’ve gotta be kidding. You were obviously trying to lead people to compare Lincoln to Bush and 1860’s Democrats to the 2000’s Democrats. “the Democrats advocated a cut and run strategy”, “Lincoln obviously had mismanaged the war” etc.

It’s a far, far stretch. For one thing, Lincoln fired people who were incompetent.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 5, 2007 8:50 AM
Comment #219509

I agree that few people in the history of the world are capable of being as eloquent as was Abraham Lincoln, but I think there is still some pretty good political rhetoric occasionally being used today. People like Feingold and a few others out there can sometimes be rather impressive in this regard — at least in my view.
Btw, if Lincoln were alive today, he’d be a Liberal, and without a doubt, would absolutely hate the Bushco regime. Indeed, he would probably say something like he once did of Polk:

Trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory - that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood - that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy - he plunged into war.
Posted by: Adrienne at May 5, 2007 2:26 PM
Comment #219520

It was only after the war that the Gettysberg address was considered significant at all. It had no effect on the war. On the other hand I believe the Iraq war would never have happened without Bush’s disinformation techniques, town square debates filled with hand-picked members, or commercials presented as news stories.

Your comparing Bush to Lincoln will only help convince other Republicans that the Bush faithful are way off base.

Posted by: Max at May 5, 2007 4:13 PM
Comment #219528

What’s bothers me is that Bush is in the habit of using these appeals to excuse the failure of progress, to try and muddle the waters for those dissenting. People aren’t dumping on Bush because they’re knee-jerk defeatists. They’re dumping on him because he’s habitually making poor judgments.

I spent the majority of this war expressing my opinion on how this war could be won. Many Democrats did the same thing, including our candidate for President.

The majority of this war was fought under a Republican congress, which seemed very eager to do as he wanted them to. What’s been holding this great leader back? Public Opinion?

Aren’t we missing the fact that a successful policy, a break from people came to believe was a poor policy, would have returned some of the support? Morale and success in war are not independent of one another. You cannot run a war forever on the fumes of relentless cheerleading.

Without progress, people will form a low opinion of the policy. Lincoln had trouble, but beginning with Gettysburg, he turned things around. Lincoln didn’t win the Civil War because the North suddenly decided to be more supportive. He won it, because he finally got the right convergence of leadership, men, and materials in one place.

Bush’s problem isn’t necessarily his devotion to this war, it’s his stubborn unwillingness to take on any policy than the one he’s on at the moment. In his hubris and arrogance, this man will not let go of doing things his way.

It wasn’t the insurgents that discouraged people, it’s the fact that things were going wrong, and that Bush, with his policies, not only let them go wrong, but also, with many of his actions, made things even worse. How do you support that? How do you hold out hopes for that?

The Republicans are still under the illusion that people dislike Bush because he’s misunderstood, slandered. No, people understand pretty well what he’s been doing. They just don’t like it or agree with it anymore.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2007 6:39 PM
Comment #219532

Honest Abe compared to Saddam? Common on, that is pure ridiculousness. Linoln acted on personal conviction and freed an entire race of people in the United States. Saddam acted out of personal greed and terror. That is the diffrence between leadership and tryanny; the latter is moral, the former is immoral. A leader is moral, a tryant is immoral and sadistic.

Lincoln only gave four speeched during his entire tenure in the White House and one of those speeches, the Gettysburg Address, was only two-and-a-half minutes long. He felt terrible about because people traveled great distances to hear him speak. Iowans, Hoosiers, Michiganders, Buckeyes, Illinoians traveled days to get to Gettysburg to hear that speech. People in those days expected to be entertained when traveling such distances and Lincoln knew that. But the smell of rotten corpses from the April battle was still in the air at August address and Lincoln wanted to keep it as short as could be. There was still skeltal remains on the battlefield at Gettysburg in August of 1863.

That speech more than any other defined America as we know it, and to compare the former Iraqi dicator to freely elected Lincoln is insane!

Posted by: Danny L. McDaniel at May 5, 2007 7:29 PM
Comment #219541

The initial article makes an offhand attempt to compare the American Civil War with the occupation of Iraq:

“In the election campaign of 1864, the Democrats advocated a cut and run strategy.”

They were called Copperheads, and their candidate was McClellan. They did not want to see slavery abolished, and the fact is, the North nearly gave up on the war due to disastrous leadership. Were it not for the ability of Lincoln to change course, rather than “stay the course,” and find competent leadership in the persons of Grant, Sherman, and others, along with simultaneous victories on July 4th, 1864, the American Civil War might have ended differently.

Of course, comparing Saddam Hussein with Lincoln is silly, but no sillier than comparing the Civil War with Iraq. For the purposes of discussion, it would be much more useful to compare the US experience in Iraq with Vietnam, or the British experience in Iraq in the early 1920’s.

“Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies but as liberators”.

British General Sir Stanley Maude, Iraq, 1917

By the way, here is an excellent article on the history of Iraq and the current situation, written in May 2003; the writer is nearly prescient, predicting the situation we currently find ourselve with considerable accuracy.

Posted by: phx8 at May 5, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #219542


You seem to have messed up the link for the excellent article. Please try again.

Posted by: LawnBoy at May 5, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #219567

Jack, now imagine the south after the surrender but picture it bordered not by water and the Union states but instead by pro slave countries who hate the Union. Lets also say that during reconstruction there is no ability to rule with an iron fist but instead the union soldiers need to be very careful to not offend the people in the south. Lets picture the northern press grilling Sherman about his tactics and talking about war crime charges against him and his men. Had this been reality I don’t think Lincoln would be remembered so fondly. 1860’s America was a different time and place. When we talk 2007 middle east, too many Americans do not have the stomach for what it takes to win and so we won’t win. Just imagine turning Sherman lose in Iraq today with orders to get rid of the insurgants.

Posted by: carnak at May 6, 2007 3:49 AM
Comment #219574

The Right’s always quick to blame other people for not having the stomach to win.

We’re in an occupation here, undermanned, underequipped, and not supported with the training or the leadership back in Washington necessary to go all out, even if that was the wise thing to do.

Simply put, you don’t take back that big of a country with so few soldiers.

We won the conventional war easily. It’s post-war operations that got screwed up. And screwed up they were. Americans weren’t lacking resolve when things started to get out of control, and people weren’t really all that negative when the first stirrings of rebellion began in Iraq.

The Republicans, in their quest to dominate the political conversation here have gotten so wrapped up in doing that that they didn’t realize that most important political debate to winning the war in Iraq was not here, but there, and that argument is the one we couldn’t afford to lose, if we wanted to win this war.

You look at Abu Ghraib as if people are wussies for thinking that this was a monumental screw-up, a betrayal of our principles. In truth, it was the last thing we needed happening. You’re so focused on how right it is in your own mind to beat the truth out of terror suspects and insurgents, that you don’t even consider the political effect in Iraq of that having occured. You would complain that we should have kept it secret, but then, could you have done so forever? Was it ever as much of a secret as you thought? Or were the American people, as usual, the last to know?

The effect of Abu Ghraib was to take the moral high-ground away from us, to show Americans humiliating Arab men, shaming them, taking away their masculinity. Think of the reaction here if some Arab state did the same thing to our soldiers. Then imagine a society that takes those things ten times more seriously than we do.

The politics of Iraq were more important than its armies. People have to agree, for one reason or another, to stop fighting in a war like this. You can’t merely kill all your enemies, unless you want to commit an act of genocide in the process to reach that end. We would have to respond with the kind of brutality the Romans were famous for, the kind of brutality that made few friends for the Roman, and eventually lead to the demise of the Empire.

So short of that, your only alternative is do deal with these people, to give carrots and sticks to local leaders and to the people of the communities to curb the tendencies of their radical elements, or to prevent the radical elements from forming in the first place.

Infrastructure should have been repaired and guarded. Projects should have used local labor, to drain the pool of recruits for the insurgents. Security should have been good enough to discourage infiltration from outside and disruption from within. We should have set about bringing back and in fact improving the lot of these people’s lives.

This President never brought America’s full strengths to this. For ideological reasons, he sent us in with one hand tied behind our back, without the support or the plans for a proper occupational mission.

These fantasies of unaccountability, of leaders unburdened by close attention or demands that people observe customs of war ignore the truth: First, that there are good reasons for the scrutiny, and the international norms, and second that the only reason they need such protection from scrutiny is to prevent people from finding out how bad things really are. It’s first-order magnitude ass-covering which should be entirely inconsistent with bold, successful policy.

The Press and the people of American have not been holding this president back from winning the war. His own methods and approaches have done that. Bush and the Republicans lost the war.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 6, 2007 8:50 AM
Comment #219577


I really was not comparing Bush to Lincoln, at least not directly. First, I was just trying to show that PowerPoint thing. It is so true that PowerPoint has degraded good communications among good communicators. It is sort of an equalizer. It brings both bad and talented communications to the same level. It brings the bad ones up, but it pulls the good ones down.

Re history - I was trying to show that many things go wrong. There is one comparison to Bush. Lincoln was hated and reviled during his time. Even his political allies sometimes thought of him as an ape. Absent Sherman’s victories, he probably would have lost the election in 1864. Of course, he never could have won an election held in the entire U.S.


Welcome back. Please see above re power point. I also think our communications is being destroyed by the pressure of the day and the idea that it should be personalized. Consider Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy versus Bush post 9/11. Ignore the relative skills. What you notice about Bush’s speeches (and all speeches these days) is the topical personalization. Politicians always bring up some individual. They might make reference to John Smith, who lost a loved one. This sells well with the crowd, but freezes it into one time and place.


Sherman would be taken out in a few minutes. You are right that we cannot fight as we did back then. In today’s climate, the North would not have won the war. Lincoln would be reviled. In fact, he would be treated like George Bush.

For my liberal friends, I am not comparing Bush to Lincoln, but Lincoln to Bush. You have to admit that if Lincoln had the condition Bush faces today (today’s media, modern sensibilities) he would no have succeeded.

The southern leadership was also just a lot more honorable than the Baathists and terrorists. Lee could give his word and most of his men would keep it. There is a significant cultural difference in the concept of honor. I know the PC crowd will be on my back about this, but it is true.


I was not trying to compare the Iraqi Civil war to ours. I was thinking in terms of American politics, not internal Iraq. There are no real parallels, expect the general ones. I think you could vaguely compare Saddam to Nathan Bedford Forrest, but Forrest was not corrupt (just ruthless). I think the Baathist behave like the post war KKK, but they kill more innocent people. Funny that the worst terrorists in our history would not even make the top tier of the terrorists we face today.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 9:03 AM
Comment #219582
For my liberal friends, I am not comparing Bush to Lincoln, but Lincoln to Bush.

Er, what?

You have to admit that if Lincoln had the condition Bush faces today (today’s media, modern sensibilities) he would no have succeeded.

This is a meaningless claim. You can’t just mash-up today’s media and sensibilities with the civil war. CNN is in Atlanta, so I suppose it would be pro-Confederacy? Where do prominent black people like Oprah and Barack Obama fit into this imaginary world? It would all get very bizarre.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 9:44 AM
Comment #219586


I may not have expressed that well. Let me try a different analogy. Michael Jordan and I can both play basketball. You could compare a problem I have with problems he has. It would make no sense to compare his problems with mine.

Re the Civil War - I am trying to show how much things have changed. In today’s climate, Lincoln could not have won the Civil War. Sherman would certainly have been arrested. Grant would have been sent to rehab. McClellan was the kind of guy who would do well. He avoided fighting whenever possible, never sought a decisive confrontation and was good with the press.

Sherman thought that cruel war was the least cruel thing to do, since it got it over with faster. In the modern world, this Civil War would fester many years. Terrorists would blow up civilians in the cities of the Union and Confederacy. Refugee camps on both sides of the border would be nurseries for extremists. Maybe Sherman was right.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 10:18 AM
Comment #219592
Terrorists would blow up civilians in the cities of the Union and Confederacy.

American suicide bombers?!

As I said, it’s weird analogy that just doesn’t work very well.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #219609


We were lucky in that we never had to deal with that sort of situation. We did a good job of fighting our wars and then were very generous in the peace. Our Civil War is a great example. I can think of no other historical example of a civil war that ended with so much generosity on both sides. Usually civil wars are followed by retribution and reigns of terror. Confederates just went home. They even got to keep their horses and somw side arms.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 1:29 PM
Comment #219631

“Welcome back.”

Thank you, Jack.

“Please see above re power point.”

The way I see it, the kind of communication you’re talking about here is the misuse of a power point presentation. Such presentations are in reality only as good and useful as the person who is presenting them. They’re not intended to make up for an eloquent speaker going over the points in question, but are rather an outline for the speaker, and the people listening to follow as more in depth information and observations are given.

“I also think our communications is being destroyed by the pressure of the day and the idea that it should be personalized. Consider Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy versus Bush post 9/11. Ignore the relative skills. What you notice about Bush’s speeches (and all speeches these days) is the topical personalization. Politicians always bring up some individual. They might make reference to John Smith, who lost a loved one. This sells well with the crowd, but freezes it into one time and place.”

But don’t you think this has a lot to do with the steady march of informality that has been taking place for many many years in this country (and in the world)? Grand and intentionally poetic political rhetoric now very often strikes us as rather pompous and over the top. Even so (and again in my opinion), an eloquent speaker still has the chance to rise above if they possess a gift for speech writing, or (when they have no chance for preparation), have the intelligence, innate speaking ability, vocabulary and wit to think quickly and turn a phrase where and when appropriate.

You know, when you think about this trend toward increasing informality, it’s easy to see that it isn’t just in the political rhetoric, but really in every facet of our lives. It really seems to have started in earnest after WWI — perhaps because of the horror of that war, and how the world had suddenly changed. Then we had the Roaring Twenties, the collapse of the stock market, followed by the Great Depression, which broke down formalities of all sorts even further. This continued to accellerate in our culture after WWII and the horror of the Atomic Bomb. By the Sixties and Vietnam, it truly blew every shred of cultural formality completely away. Now, everybody expects to be talked to on that personal level you’re describing.
I have to admit, I myself find that personal pandering a bit smarmy.
I have even observed this continuing breakdown of formality in my own lifetime. For instance, when I look at pictures in the family album, it’s hilarious to see how everybody used to wear a hat — and the ladies all wore gloves on their hands. Now these same people in their old age are usually sporting a track suit and sneakers —even when they go out to dinner. Comfort is now considered more important than any former sense of propriety or standards. When I was a kid, people needed to be properly dressed to even get into an average restaurant, but these days even some of the fanciest and most expensive places don’t bat an eye when people show up in jeans.

Anyway, my point is that the break down of formality in our culture is what would cause most people to roll their eyes or laugh uncontrollably if someone got up and started speaking like Lincoln today — just like they roll their eyes and laugh whenever Bush mangles the English language, or mumbles nonsensically, or tosses out obvious Republican talking points and catchphrases. We may be much less formal, but most of us still expect basic language skills and a firm grasp on logic.

Btw, I agree with Woody. It doesn’t seem to make much sense comparing Lincoln with Bush, or Iraq with our Civil War. Seems like apples and oranges all the way.

Posted by: A at May 6, 2007 3:46 PM
Comment #219632

Uh, don’t know why that happens sometimes, but that last post was mine.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 6, 2007 3:47 PM
Comment #219638


I think PowerPoint is useful if it has pictures or diagrams. Just outlining the words is less useful.

I agree about the informality. I like informality generally, but too often it becomes an excuse for lack of preparation. Making a PowerPoint is not really preparation.

Of course, lack of preparation is not the problem with political speeches. I think the problem there is that the speeches are written by committee. They check everything out with focus groups etc.

Returning to informality, it is a hard balance. It is good not to be ruled by the opinion of others, but it is also sometimes nice to consider how you affect the people around you. I spent 12 years in Europe. Americans have a deserved reputation for being slobs. You mention wearing jeans in a fine restaurant. I can take that. I dislike the fat guys bulging out of their T-shirts that say “I’m with stupid”.

BTW – as a follicle challenged individual, I think men should wear hats.

Re the “A”, I sometimes sign Jackj because I am moving on the the email address and not paying attention.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 4:34 PM
Comment #219734

Jack, dude, this is old. I saw it several months ago on Boing-boing. Get with it, guy.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 7, 2007 4:18 PM
Comment #219735

Now here’s a current little story that demonstrates the unintended consequences of riling up irrational fear in a population for purely political gain: click and read it here.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 7, 2007 4:42 PM
Comment #219792


I am slow on these things. It was the first time I saw it, so it was new to me. I never promise to be the source for breaking news.

Posted by: Jack at May 8, 2007 7:45 AM
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