Partisan Controversy Over Palin’s Speech Obscures Long Tradition of Hand Notes

Sara Palin and her dreaded hand notesThe controversy that erupted over Sarah Palin writing notes on her hand while addressing a tea party convention obscures the fact that so-called “hand notes” have a long history in American politics.

While today the smart, professorial politician prefers to use teleprompters, “in itself a sign of vastly superior intelligence”, according to reporter Mike Allen, before the invention of the teleprompter politicians had two choices:  memorize their speech in its entirety or use crib notes.

A screen shot of JFK at his inauguration shows that he had writing of his hand.  Researchers have blown up that photo to reveal what it was:

  1. Ask not what your country can do for you.
  2. Must get Angie Dickinson out of Lincoln Bedroom before Jackie finds out.

Worried that he would forget his speech and concerned about his declining physical condition, FDR at his fourth inaugural wrote the following notes on his hand:

  1. Keep speech brief…..passing through period of supreme test for our country
  2. Just and honorable peace….strive for perfection
  3. Stalin’s mustache is making me question my sexuality.  If only someone would invent disco.

During his campaign for the 1858 senatorial nomination in Illinois, future President Abraham Lincoln was known to write notes on both his hands.  Researchers at the Lincoln Library have provided palm prints of the notes he wrote during his debates:

  1.  A house divided against itself cannot stand.
  2. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it….or its advocates will push it forward.
  3. Stephen A. Douglas is a short, fat doofus.  I can’t believe my wife used to like him.

Thomas Jefferson was a notorious hand note writer.  During his first inaugural address the following was written on his hand:

  1. Declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire.
  2. To you, then, gentlemen,  who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation……..I look with encouragement for that guidance and support
  3. Writing notes on my hand with a quill pen is very painful and bloody.  Reminder:  When I get back to Monticello invent ball point pen and sleep with more slaves.

So it seems, partisan controversy aside, that the hand note is a part of American politics. Even our current, professorial President has been known to use the hand note.  As he wrote on his hand during his inauguration:

  1. Hope and change.  Hope and change.  Keep repeating.  Hope and change.
  2. Keep smiling.  People won’t notice speech sucks
  3. Remember: My  name is Barack not Barry.



2 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Great anaylsis of an age-old issue. I was surprised by Obama’s contribution. I really thought he would have written, ” ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME…I I I I I I I I I I …Blame Bush”

  2. Manhattan Infidel says:

    I understand that was in the original draft, but wiser political minds (which unfortunately includes Biden) asked him to take it out.

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