Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two venerable journalists hold forth on “the pledge”

"Taking the pledge will not make bad liquor good but will improve it.” - Mark Twain
Practically considered, the main difference between Republicanism and Democracy, is the difference between the highwayman and the sneak thief. This being so, the question naturally arises: What are we going to do about it? Nothing. That is, not yet. The time may come when the people will choose public servants for fitness, and will demand that they keep the pledges made as a condition precedent to election, but it is far from us.” - William Cowper Brann – The Iconoclast
Six Shooter Junction – Rambling late last night on the fair side of the river, I visited a spiritualist's parlor, the location of which I have been bound in strictest confidence to not disclose.
As a favor to we of the scribbling trade, the hostess had arranged to call forth two ink-stained gentlemen from the Victorian era – a bygone time when America was in her ascendancy from adolescence, and had emerged in maturity as a world power, informed by telegraph...
Messrs. Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain to his many fans; and William Cowper Brann, a personality well known to learned and discerning consumers of the printed medium as “The Iconoclast,” were conjured and brought forth to give their views on the amazing happenings of late in our Courthouse, what with the County Judge suddenly announcing his premature retirement, and his insistence that the appointment of his successor be made prior to the end of the month, while he yet has a vote on the matter.
The two venerable scribes were much taken by an insistence that the candidates so hastily considered have “taken the pledge” to not stand for re-election to the post, which pays roughly $135,000 per year, plus benefits.
Balderdash!” shouted Mr. Twain.
Pish, posh, and fiddle faddle,” Mr. Brann chimed in.
When The Legendary ventured to ask the reason for their consternation, Mr. Twain tapped ash off his rum crook cheroot, took a long and contemplative draw on the vile black thing, and blew a plume of smoke at the chandelier, punctuating it with lazy rings which he broke with an idle forefinger.
He said, “See here, young man! It has come to me that you have admitted in public forums that you are afflicted with the drinking man's curse, that you are, in fact, impaired due to your excessive tastes for all substances distilled, brewed or fermented – am I correct?”
Assured that this was indeed the case, he fixed me with a penetrating gaze, and from under his tufted brows, he growled, “Doesn't show very good judgment for a scribbler dedicated to chronicling the deeds of judges, attorneys, elected officials and other errant souls of that nature.”
Hear, hear,” said Mr. Brann from a wing chair partially obscured by the shadows. “Never admit anything in the presence of those scalawags. Ever.”
Thus admonished, I deferred to their vast experience and superior wisdom, plying them with my next question, the business of the precipitous resignation of County Judge Jim Lewis, and the pledges of those seeking to replace him.
They both sneered, snorting at the mere mention that I would expect them to be impressed by such an occurrence.
They had seen it all before, they both concluded, in fact, had written the story numerous times before.
As to “the pledge”?
They have merely left their calling cards, old son,” declared Mr. Brann. “'The pledge' is the sure sign of a fellow traveler of the ilk so beguiled with their fitness to lead that they see themselves important enough to utter such oaths.”

Quizzed on the fact that at least one candidate was a Democrat, and has now newly emerged as a Republican, they both ejaculated that most Victorian of expressions, simultaneously, "Pshaw!"
Listen when I tell you – and mark my words,” Mr. Twain said, “soon, the time will come when some huge emergent circumstance will grip your community, and all will be forgotten in the face of that impending disaster. Your successful candidate will have forgotten all he pledged, and your colleagues will move on to the next little disaster – with all due aplomb.”
At that, the two of them vanished in a haze of blue smoke, flying upward through the rumble of thunder, distant and muted though it may have been, as the chamber was plunged into utter darkness.
Our hostess lit a single candle and showed her guests to the door, and we all slipped away into the shadows of an early autumn evening, avoiding eye contact.
- The Legendary

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