American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"The Contender" (2000)


President Jackson Evans Addresses Congress on VP Nominee, Senator Laine Hanson videomoviespeechthecontenderpresidentevans

Audio mp3 of Address delivered by Jeff Bridges


President Jackson Evans: Thank you. Napoleon once said, when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that "to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power you need to show true greatness." Such pettiness and such greatness are rarely found in one person. I look upon the events of the past weeks and I've never come so to grips with that quotation.

For ladies and gentlemen of this Congress, it pains my soul to tell you that you have brought blood and shame under this great dome. Your leadership has raised the stakes of hate to a level where we can no longer separate the demagogue from the truly inspired.

And believe this, there are traitors among us. And I'm not talking about those of you who sided against your Party leadership. I'm talking about those of you who were patriots to your Party but traitors to the necessary end result -- that of righteousness, the truth, the concept of making the American dream blind to gender.

And you know, I am not free of blame. Right from the start, I should have come down here, pointed a finger your way --


     pointed a finger your way -- and asked you,

                  "Have you no decency, sir?"      

Yesterday, I met -- [directly addresses Runyon who is leaving the chambers] -- Mr. Runyon, you may walk out on me, you may walk out on this body, but you cannot walk out on the will of the American people. Americans are a good people; they're a just people, Mr. Runyon, and they will forgive you but they will not forget. Hate and ego have no place residing in what my good friend Laine Hanson calls the "Chapel of Democracy."

So, let me make one thing clear. You come at us with whatever weapons that you have in your arsenal, but there is no weapon as powerful as that of an idea whose time has come. A woman will serve in the highest level of the Executive -- simple as that!

Yesterday, I spoke with Laine Hanson. I told her that she could decide her own destiny, if she wanted to continue her fight for confirmation that I would stand beside her. She has asked me to allow her to step aside. She told me that she wanted my Administration to end on a note of triumph and not controversy.

Understand, those of who worked to bring Laine Hanson down that she asked to have her name withdrawn from consideration not because she isn't great, but because she isn't petty -- because those two conflicting leadership traits could not live as one within her body or her soul.

Greatness: It comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of sacrifice. That's the loneliest form. Now it turns out that Laine Hanson is a woman, an American of devout principle and she has inspired me to act alike, and I cannot accept Senator Hanson's withdrawal.

And I'm now calling for an immediate voice of confirmation of Laine Hanson. And Mr. Speaker, I would like to make this a live roll call. I want to see the faces of those of you who would eliminate the possibility of greatness in American leadership because of half-truths, lies, and innuendoes.

I will not be deterred by partisanship.

I will not be deterred by misogyny.

I will not be deterred by hate.

You have now come face-to-face with my will. Confirm my nominee, heal this nation, and let the American people explode into this new millennium with the exhilaration of being true to the glory of this democracy.

Thank you.

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