There’s something (strange) about Lincoln

From the diary of John J, Abe Lincoln’s speechwriter

President Lincoln has changed. It’s almost like he’s been taken over by the spirit of some other person. The other day, he stared at the body of a soldier whose gun had run out of bullets. I expected him to say something poetic like “The highest merit is due to the soldier”, but all he said was “Supply chain optimization.”

I show him the text of a news speech I have written for Gettysburg. My shoulders tense as I wait for his reaction. But I’m not that worried, because what I have written is really good:

Four score and twenty 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.

To my surprise, he frowns. He doesn’t seem one bit happy with what I’ve written.

“What’s four score and twenty years?” he asks.

“Why that’s eighty four years.”

He frowns.

“Then why not just say that? Why use weasel words?”

“You know…I thought a poetic flourish would lend you personality…”

He ignores me, and continues scanning what I’ve written.

“And we shouldn’t say the word ‘nation.’ Or ‘market’. It’s not consistent with antitrust guidelines.”

It’s my turn to frown.

I never said ‘market.’ And what does antitrust mean?”

“You know, anticompetitive.”

“But we are at war,” I protest.

Why am I having to state the obvious? I hate how this discussion is making me sound defensive.

“And what do you mean by ‘conceived in liberty’? Do you have data to back up your assertion?”

“I don’t,” I reply glumly.

“This is not working for me,” President Lincoln says. He sounds peevish, rude and strangely unpresidential. He scribbles a revision and slides the paper back to me.

“Now read, that aloud,” he says. “With my revisions, we have a great speech!”

My voice shakes with disbelief as I read the words, “We are excited to announce the launch of a new initiative that will surprise and delight our customers in the northern and southern locales…”