How to Become President: Chapter 5October 1, 2009
ISSUES AND HOW TO PICK THEM
EDITOR’S NOTE. We here reproduce the expurgated version of Miss Allen’s famous keyhole speech, in which she laid down the gauntlet to the major parties and defied them to pick it up without stooping. The complete version, including the juicy parts and printed on the best issue-paper, appears in the Congressional Record-Express, on sale by your local Congressman.
The speech follows.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and no corny cracks:
The splendid introduction of your Toastmaster, which was too glowing, I fear, for poor little me, reminds me of a story which I wish I could remember. But I couldn’t tell it in the dialect anyway, so I will just say that as I look out upon this sea of shiny faces I am uplifted, and also pinched in at the waist.
This is the greatest night of my life. How glorious it is to be here among my friends, for you are my friends, at least until election, in this fair city of _______, the garden spot of the great _______. (APPLAUSE.) I can say in all truthfulness that when last I tire of the mad whirl of modern life and want to find a place to die in, this is it.
I stand before you tonight a simple, plain woman–(GROANS.) which is not my fault, but the Westmores can’t take me till tomorrow. And anyway, is this an election or a popularity contest? I’ve often wondered.
You are probably just as anxious as I am to find out what I stand for, but it isn’t so easy.
If I knew what the Republicans and Democrats are going to promise, everything they offer could go for me too. But a certain well-known bookie, whose name must remain confidential until I find it out, has written my that the other parties are holding off just so they can pattern their keyhold speeches after mine.
So I am awake to the danger of holding my convention first. I fully realize that every promise I make, the Republicans will double and the Democrats will redouble. They think this will make me vulnerable, but they don’t know I have some tricks up my sleeve, along with a box of raisins to munch on while I’m waiting for the returns to come in.
A keyhole speech is very simple, especially mine. First it states the issues. An issue is just a difference of opinion, which is why we put erasers on horse races. And as I always say, as long as we have issues, we can’t have everything. Second, the speech goes on to attack the present administration and show how it has ruined the country. Then it goes on to attack the other candidates and show how they’ll keep it ruined, and generally builds up a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Unfortunately, I don’t know exactally how the present administration has ruined the country or how the other candidates are going to keep it ruined–I hardly know how I’m going to handle it myself.
But we all realize that what this country needs is plenty (GIGGLES) and even though it’s impossible I’ll be glad to do it. Today we are facing many crises that are creasing our faces with worry. Today millions of people are living who will never do it again. Millions are being born for the first time–and millions are doing nothing because it’s the best offer they’ve had this week. (LAUGHTER. Miss Allen knocked over the water pitcher.)
It is for these people and many others that the Surprise Party is conceived and desecrated, founded upon the principle that everybody is just as good as anybody else, even though they aren’t quite so smart. My platform is a definite answer to the Republicans and Democrats, as well as the New dealers, before they say anything–and if they say it anyway, that will be time enough to think of a better answer.
My opponents (BOOS) ask for a sound government. What do they think they’ve got now, or don’t they listen to their radios? They ask me what I am doing about the two-dollar dollar, what am I doing about providing old age for people with pensions, and what am I doing next Friday night. They must think they’re Clifton Fadiman! (DEEP SILENCE. Drop the gag from the next speech.)
But I accept the challenge. I say without fear of contradiction that I not only stand four-square for free speech, but my brother is busy right now inventing a telephone that works with soap slugs. I stand for the conservation of wild life: when I am elected night clubs will close at ten o’clock. I stand for a cleaner administration: no Senator who can’t hit his spittoon on his first try truly represents the aims of my party, even if he does claim that he tried to bank his shot off the cracker barrel. I stand for a lot of other things, too, but what working girl doesn’t. (OVATION. Jack Benny just came in.)
This used to be a government of checks and balances. Now it’s all checks and no balances. But I have a cure for that. I’ll sign all checks with invisible ink, or better still, sign them “A Friend,” so nobody will be embarrassed. And if the deficit still seems too high, I’ll sign it again, starting a half-tone lower.
Do you know of anyone better qualified than me for this high office? If so, don’t delay. Write or print his name clearly on your cuff and send it, together with the tops of two ballot boxes, to the nearest laundry. I may make mistakes, for I am only human (PAUSE, while ten delegates scribbled notes and handed them to the ushers) but whenever one of my policies fails I will be the first to admit it, though perhaps not by much.
So wake up, America! Your country needs me and I can be had. Let’s all pull together and make these United States the grandest place in this whole country. I see a vision. A glorious vision. A united people, marching forward shoulder to shoulder, giving their all for the common good, working while I whistle. (WHISTLES.)
And in conclusion, let me say only that if I have overlooked anything that will make this country of ours a better place to live in–I thank you.