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The President Speaks at Gettysburg

February 12, 1989

The following is a speech drafted on George Bush's word-processor for delivery at Gettysburg, as imagined by Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University.

Four score and seven years ago, as you may remember, a team of our fathers got together and participated in a worthwhile exercise that was big on liberty and caring about others, helping the other guy.

For some time now--oh, Lord, it must go back at least two years--there's been this testing of that, this civil war thing that's been making us all frantic. Well, maybe civil war is too strong a word. The point is that there's been a lot of name-calling and some people just don't want to fit into the national mold. The thing is that this churning has produced some doubt--not a 50-50 chance but a longer-shot chance--that the very basis of this country may be taking some hits. We're talking about whether this fairest and most honorable country in the world is gonna be eroded out.

We've come here to sit down with various officials out of a worthwhile desire to honor those Americans who absorb a disproportionate amount of unfair pounding so that this nation doesn't just fall by the wayside. And I might say that this is totally compatible with stuff I've spelled out in the past.

But this is the hard fact: In a macro sense, we cannot dedicate, we can't totally consecrate and, you know, we can't even semi-hallow this ground. Hey, the decent, fair-play Americans who did their thing here have consecrated it an awful lot more than we could. Maybe even cubed, tripled.

Countries around the world won't jump up and go ballistic over our remarks here, but, oh boy, in hindsight they're gonna know what went on here. And when I say that it is for us, the living guys, to raise our dedication level to build on the unfinished work of the dead guys, I really believe that. I mean, I'll never apologize for it. So I don't worry that we won't dedicate ourselves to the great tasks that simply aren't in focus yet. And I'm convinced that these decent and honorable dead ones are gonna cause just a little bit of a rise in our dedication level, and that this nation, under God--a subject I'm happy to talk about--will have a proportionate rise in the amount of freedom. And that the public sector, contained but still responsive to the needs of the public in certain areas, shall not perish--and perish is not a word I'm particularly enthralled with--from the Earth as we know and love it.

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