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Perishable Thoughts — Blagojevich
Digs Deep And Quotes Kipling

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, December 25, 2008

Did you get to see the Illinois Governor explain his position:

The best part is the Governor’s decision to quote Kipling. Governor Blagojevich quotes these lines:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

Interestingly enough, he pulls back and doesn’t quote the next line:

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

Perhaps this is because he is famous for having a hairbrush near at hand at all times and was tape recorded talking rather “wise.”

The whole poem goes like this:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

If
By Rudyard Kipling
1895, published in Rewards and Fairies, 1910

The quote can be viewed here:

The New World Edition of the Works of Rudyard Kipling
(Google Books, download entire volume here)
By Rudyard Kipling, Charles Wolcott Balestier
Published by Doubleday, Page, 1919
Pg 145

The quote can be purchased here:
Rewards And Fairies
By Rudyard Kipling
Book Jungle, 2008
308 Pages, Pg.115

Of course, others have been rewriting the poem to accommodate the circumstances. Claudia Rosett, Journalist-in-Residence and Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Investigative Reporting Project, did a newer version:

If …. Kipling Only Knew

If you can keep your job while all about you
Are fielding bribes and blaming it on you,
If you can duck the Feds while all men doubt you,
And bleep-ing show the charges are untrue,
If you can fight and not be tired by fighting,
Or, being wiretapped, profess surprise,
Or argue that there will be no indicting
Because it’s all a bleep-ing pack of lies.

You can read the rest here.

If you are not offended by profanity, there is another funny version here.

For ourselves, we thought there was something fantastic in Blagojevich’s being caught so bluntly. Completely non-ideological, none of the usual cant that surrounds politicians, no pretension to the public good. He just wanted money.

Obviously it is illegal to sell a Senate seat appointment, so we don’t support it but it is also true that many a discrete Governor has made appointments based on crass political calculations, which is perfectly legal.

If the Governor of New York appoints Andrew Cuomo to the Hillary Clinton seat for the personal reason that he hopes to head off his running for Governor, that is OK… it is called committing acts of government. If he appoints Caroline Kennedy with the expectation he will have the undying loyalty of the Kennedy family, thus assuring appointments in his retirement to The Kennedy Library, various charities, etc., he is simply exercising the discretion his position allows.

It is only money that is so direct and crass that it is beyond the pale. Governor Blagojevich seems to be in trouble for being forthright.

Of course, the Kipling poem ends with an explanation that manhood is really about making the best of the opportunities one is given:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

Governor Blagojevich was trying to grab his opportunities to see “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.” Governor Blagojevich is like something from a Fitzgerald novel, his own original work of American art.

****

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