Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
What Barack Obama said:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
What Barack Obama thought:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the (parts of) the Constitution of the United States (I agree with).”
Never mind his dishonesty in saying, “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.” We all know he has no intention of reducing either.
And let us likewise dismiss Hillary Clinton’s alibis for her negligence and dereliction of duty regarding Benghazi. Sen. Rand Paul said it all by telling her she should have been fired. Paul made a nice speech, but we still wish he or somebody had asked: Who denied military aid when our consulate was under attack? Did Libya forbid a U.S. military rescue?
Further, regarding last week’s decision to put women into combat: Let the few who can handle it go to the front lines. However, we can expect feminists to begin immediately to argue that physical requirements are too strict. This happened with police and fire department standards, which were lowered so girls could qualify. Some even will argue that women’s superior interpersonal skills will persuade fanatical misogynists like the Taliban to lay down their arms.
Now let’s discuss something really important … poetry, beginning with the first family’s abysmal taste. First, Michelle Obama invited the obscene rapper, the aptly named “Common,” to read his “poetry” at the White House. (I don’t think he got to the lines about his excitement over large breasts.)
Now we have the president’s selection of Richard Blanco to read an inaugural poem. Much was made over the fact that Blanco is a diversity “two-fer,” being both Latino and “gay.”
Unfortunately, Blanco is of the school adhering to the erroneous belief that breaking prose into short, uneven lines turns it into poetry. We can thank him, however, for helping shatter the stereotype that homosexuals are naturally artistic.
“One Today,” Blanco’s effort, at least rose to the level of trite, which is more than could be said for the inaugural poetry commissioned by Yahoo. (If you want to read all of it, go to Yahoo.com.)
One of those featured, James Franco, followed contemporary fashion, submitting prose in uneven, short lines, with the added flourish of division – for no evident reason – into quatrains. Yahoo describes him as “an actor and writer.” He is an actor.
The odd thing is, he quoted 17th century Englishman Andrew Marvell’s “Horation Ode,” and its lines about the execution of Charles I:
That thence the Royal actor borne
The tragic scaffold might adorn:
While round the armèd bands
Did clap their bloody hands.
Franco did not seem to notice the lines’ vast superiority to his own work.
Another Yahoo poet (how that description rings!) was Brenda Shaughnessy, whose opening lines for Obama read:
If poetry is truth that makes us more human,
then this poem’s already been written. Voting wrote it,
in booths on ballots. O you are still president
and that is our poetry. The plain truth made beautiful.
After you’re done gagging at this, you may note the lack of a comma in the direct address. But that’s just a minor flaw, as the thing goes on in this vein, and makes one wish to open a vein.
Paul Muldoon is the New Yorker’s poetry editor. He effort was a sort of “rap,” with rhymes the likes of:
As for the forecast I deliver?
Don’t be chicken-hearted! Don’t be chicken-livered!
Please, just deliver us!
James Tate provided a prose fantasy, again called poetry because it is in short, uneven lines.
Finally, Yahoo presented Kevin Young, who must be the best poet of the bunch, because his lines were the shortest and his divisions of three lines make no sense at all:
Though the cold
start your toes
& find your lonely bones
soon even those
And tomorrow …
Et cetera. Young at least provides a poem possessed of the chief virtue of special-occasion verse: It is short.
Well, what can you expect of a nation and a Democratic Party that has exalted illiteracy? There is neither rhyme nor reason.