You may have heard the term “Philippic,” which means a fiery speech full of invective and warning. The word comes from a series of public addresses by Demosthenes, the classical Greek orator, who is said to have overcame the speech impediment that he was born with by practicing his art at the seaside with stones in his mouth. The speeches were about the evil of and the danger from King Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander, who, exactly as Demosthenes predicted, eventually did crush the independent life of the Greek city-states. Well, Ron Reagan, son of the late President and stem-cell research activist, has decided to take on Demosthenes’ role. You may, in recent times, have heard many bad things said about the administration of George W. Bush. Reagan, writing in Esquire magazine, says them all in one place in a concentrated outburst of rhetorical flame. I think one could be a Bush partisan and still admire Reagan’s extended, focused fury. This piece is valuable, even considered only as a time-saver; if you read it, you can pretty well skip over all the other anti-Bush rhetoric that’s apt to occupy the airwaves this year, because it’s all neatly packaged up here in one place. [Update: John Cowan, approximately the world’s most literate person, writes to tell me that “Georgic” already means poems of the classic period dealing with Agriculture, notably those of Virgil. Too bad, I’m not changing the title.]


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July 31, 2004
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