Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Gorby: It certainly lived up to the hype. With just one weekend of buzz, this was the biggest event I’ve seen at AU. Bigger than the Patriot League men’s basketball championship, bigger than Darrell Hammond/Kevin Nealon, bigger than Jim Breuer. The man got four or five separate standing ovations. And while the interpreter was mainly hard to hear, the main points got across.
His opening. He referred to his first political leanings, running for office in high school, in which, after he made his speech, a chair was pulled out under him (This was funnier when he said it). The lesson: “If you fall down, always stand back up.”
References to the John F. Kennedy commencement speech at AU, 6/10/1963. Gorbachev quoted this speech on numerous occasions; it was integral to the focus of his speech, the necessity of international cooperation. It was at this point that Gorbachev could best be seen. He criticized, but made sure to praise all leaders, sharing blame and credit, and stressing the necessity of dialogue. Gorbachev strikes me as the kind of man who could never say a bad word about anyone, and would make sure that everyone’s voice was heard. He would be excellent as a mediator, perhaps in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis (which the translator continually called the “Middle Eastern crisis”, even when it was clear that Israel and Palestine was the issue he was referring to.)
The integral question: What’s your favorite animal and why? Answer: a horse or a dog, because they are noble animals. This was also funnier in person.
I was shocked that there weren’t any protestors who wanted to use the publicity for their own aims or questioners who felt like using the platform to editorialize. While there were several pointed questions, they pared in comparison to those heard at prior KPU speeches (David Horowitz, Helen Thomas, etc.). And Gorbachev took these questions in stride, addressing the real concerns of the questioner, while always stressing the value of cooperation.
Conclusion: Good speech, whether you agree with him fully or not on specific issues, his major points are true and should be universally true.
Note: I can’t find reference to the speech on the C-Span schedule, but the 1:34 am slot seems appropriate for the speech (maybe it was at 9:30, too, on tape delay?). If I find out when it will air, I’ll update.
JH 10:31 PM