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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Gerlach Tennyson Mashup!

(Or, this is what you get for being so freakin' vague)

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th of West Pikeland, announced yesterday that he has ended his bid for governor. But he was vague about his plans for the future - he said last summer that, in order to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign, he wouldn't seek another term in the U.S. House.

HOWEVER, yesterday's withdrawal announcement included some language that leaves open the possibility he will run for reelection to Congress. I can think of five Republicans who will be extremely annoyed. (For those of you not following the 6th district race, five Republicans have announced their interest in Gerlach's seat.)

I would bet my 1863 penny (Civil War soldiers could have used it!) that Gerlach won't run for reelection to Congress. The only way he would run is if the national Republicans, believing him still to be the most viable 6th District candidate, convinced him to do so. His staffers, anyway, have said that Gerlach will, within the next few days, give us a more concrete idea of his future plans.

But I'm interested in something else -- as a close observer of language, I'm interested in the wording of Gerlach's super strange withdrawal announcement. Not only is it shamelessly vague (as in: I'll do something noble yet, but I'm not sure what! Could be anything, or nothing!) -- it bears a no doubt unintended resemblance to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses." In this poem, Tennyson imagines an elderly Odysseus leaving Ithaca and sailing for uncertain new adventures. The poem is a so-called "dramatic monologue" - it is entirely in Odysseus' voice. Odysseus never tells us what adventures he has in mind. In fact, we get the impression that Odysseus has no idea what adventures he has in mind. So, in this way he sounds like the Gerlach of yesterday's announcement.

To demonstrate this (as well as to demonstrate some loose structural parallels between the poem and the announcement), I've constructed a "mashup" of the last stanza of Tennyson's poem and the last two paragraphs of Gerlach's announcement:

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas.
While we have successfully raised
Over $1 million,
Traveled thousands of miles
All across this Commonwealth,
And signed up more than 19,000 supporters
Eager to help us win,
Today's media-driven campaigns
Require four times that amount
To wage a successful primary.
That left me with two choices:
Either spend all of my time raising money,
With little time left for meeting with voters;
Or withdraw my candidacy
And work even harder to serve the public.
I am choosing to serve the public –
Many of whom have graciously rewarded me
With their support for nearly two decades.
I want to express my tremendous appreciation to
And affection for
Our many contributors, supporters,
Volunteers, staff, and well-wishers:
My mariners, souls that have toil’d, and wrought,
And thought with me –
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads – you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil --
You have been nothing short of awesome.
And it is because of your support and encouragement
That I will continue to travel the Commonwealth
Advocating commonsense ideas to create jobs,
Reduce taxes and cut runaway spending,
And make government work for all of our families:
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
I want to be clear about one thing:
This campaign for governor has stoked my passion
For honest, effective, and efficient government --
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices.
And I intend to continue to raise my voice,
And work hard in the months and years ahead.
Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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