Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin on the Chautauqua Circuit

William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic convention is one of the most famous political speeches ever given in the United States. Economists have never thought too highly of Bryan's call for tying the value of the dollar to gold and silver (bimetallism) rather than gold alone, but people still loved the speech. They loved the speech so much that Bryan kept repeating it for the next twenty-five years on the Chautauqua circuit, long after its relevance to any real political issue had faded.

Every time I hear Sarah Palin repeat her line about saying "thanks but no thanks" to the "bridge to nowhere," I think of all the mileage that Bryan got out of his famous convention speech. Her early support for the bridge and her belated opposition to it were public knowledge by the day after her convention speech, but every time she speaks, she still delivers the line exactly as she did in the Twin Cities. Apparently people just like the way she says it.

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