Freedom of Speech Part Two of Several

Eternal Hope Springs

The Scene: Inside Bob-Ed’s community store. Broderick, Pete, Grady, Luther, Parson Paul, and Alphonso are lounging in the back. It’s a little later on in the evening from Part One. Grady and Luther have played a couple of tunes. Alphonso’s found his teeth. The room has grown quiet and thoughtful. Bob-Ed is polishing glasses behind the counter.


“It’s a bit disturbing,” said Pete.

“What’s that?” asked Parson Paul.

“That bit about falsehoods and untruths being protected by law,” said Pete.

“Absolutely necessary,” said Broderick. “Falsity is necessary to put honesty into perspective.”

 “When has anybody ever been honest in politics?” asked Bob-Ed.

“There must have been at least a couple times since 1776,” said Grady.

 “Bound to have been,” added Luther.

“I mean shouldn’t the guy in charge be pulling for folks to talk straight?” asked Pete.

“Who is in charge?” asked Luther.

“Who cares?” responded Bob-Ed.

“We could check the news,” said Parson Paul. “It’s bound to be on there.”

“That there radio is for listening to the Red Sox and the Celtics,” cackled Alphonso. “There ain’t no need to be wastin’ good battery power on news.”

“We could examine the question from a historical perspective,” said Broderick. “Grady, how old are you?”

“Don’t rightly know,” said Grady. “Probably somewhere between forty and fifty at a guess.”

“Split the difference,” said Broderick. “We’ll call it forty-five. That would mean that in your lifetime there has been at least five and a half presidents.”

“How do you figure?” asked Pete.

“Simple,” said Broderick, “the maximum term for being president is eight years.”

“Eight years just for being president? That’s a pretty stiff sentence,” said Pete. “Hasn’t any of ‘em ever gotten time off for good behaviour?”

“None of them have ever behaved well enough for long enough to find out,” said Alphonso.

“That’s slipping away from the question at hand. We are in search of honesty in politics,” said Broderick

“Happy hunting,” muttered Bob-Ed.

“Start with campaign slogans,” said Broderick. “After all that’s where a body’s got to say what they intend to do. Then it’s simply a case of comparing what they did to what they said they’d do.”

“So we leave the current guy, assuming he is a guy of course, out because he isn’t finished yet,” said Grady.

“While there may be a few of a certain persuasion that would like to see him, or her —”

“— or it — ,” injected Alphonso.

“— finished before they started it’s only fair to give them a full term,” said Broderick.

“Otherwise you’re comparing apples with an orange I guess,” said Grady. 

“It?” asked Pete.

“Who knows?” said Alphonso. “It might be a duck.”

“Don’t believe so,” said Broderick. “Article 2 is quite clear on that point. The president has to be a person, at least 35 years old and a natural born citizen. Ducks are disqualified.”

“Thank goodness for that,” said Grady. “Imagine having Donald Duck for president?”

“So he, or she, could be dead?” asked Pete.

“Don’t believe so,” said Broderick. “They also have to be resident in the country for the previous fourteen years.”

“My aunt Rose is a resident up at Happy Memory Cemetery,” said Parson Paul. “She’d make a fine president.”

“Hang on a second,” said Luther. Turning to Broderick he added, “You said that since Grady’s been born we’ve had at least five and a half presidents.”

“Correct,” said Broderick.

“When do you get half a president?” asked Luther.

“Just about every election,” said Alphonso.