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Short, sweet and to the point

August 27, 2008 - Steve Murch
Two hundred, seventy-two.

When people talk about the greatest speeches given, especially those either political in nature or by a politician, many if not most will mention President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It was an address — speech — that was only 272 words long. The word count is something that is disputed since there are five versions based on reports and copies that have been accepted by scholars. No matter the actual word count, there is no disputing the speech — I mean address — lasted less than three minutes.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln, obviously, used a portion of the Declaration of Independence (Thanks, Mark. In my haste to get it posted I listed the wrong document. Consider it corrected).

The opening sentence takes on extra meaning as Americans now have the opportunity to elect their first African-American president. “All men are created equal.” Or it might elected its oldest first-term president. “All men are created equal.”

We’re still a day away from Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, one that will undoubtedly be much longer than Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The real question is: Will it have a line as memorable as Obama’s speech during the 2004 Democratic National Convention?

As you might recall, Obama at that time was supporting Democratic nominee John Kerry. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America.”

Obama has proven he can spin a phrase. And truth be told, those are moments people remember. People will remember Hillary Clinton’s line from Tuesday’s speech — "No way. No how. No McCain." — as much as anything from that night.

Now we wait to see what Obama has to say. Will he wow us or not? And if he gives a stirring speech, he raises the bar for John McCain’s acceptance speech next week.


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