President Whitmore talks into a microphone

Transcript of a CNN panel discussing President Whitmore’s speech given on July 4, 1996 concerning an alien invasion

10-minute read

President Whitmore is speaking. He’s in a tiny box in the corner of the TV screen and the chyron reads “President tries to put mishandling of alien invasion behind him, outline new focus.”

“… vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our independence day!”

Cutaway to the studio as Whitmore finishes and before crowd’s cheers begin

Wolf Blitzer President Whitmore has just made another attempt to revive his failed plan to save humanity. Will his speech change opinions of a skeptical, war-weary public? Is it too little, too late? I’m Wolf Blitzer and this is CNN. Our panel will discuss the speech tonight in The Situation Room after this message from Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

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Blitzer We’re live as President Whitmore greets the assembled crowd after what some are calling a short, surprisingly belligerent speech urging aggressive action against invading alien forces. Not much language about reconciliation. We’ll be going live to the aerial battle as soon as it begins. Before then, let’s talk to our panel of experts for instant analysis of the address.

Seth Jameson, senior fellow who has been hiding in rubble of the Brookings Institute and eating grasshoppers to survive, what is your reaction?

Jameson The speech was really dark.

Blitzer Your take, Lawrence M. Tweedy, writer of the In Repose column for the The Atlantic, and author of A New Way of War: America’s Leadership in a Post-Leadership World.

Tweedy It seemed to focus a lot on America. A lot of people are suffering and he did little to demonstrate empathy or lay out a plan for them.

Blitzer T. Ken Wright, you’ve been an outspoken critic of the president.

Wright It’s certainly a compelling vision, but I doubt the president can pull it off …

Blitzer Bob Sequious, who represents the now-devastated Park Slope area of Brooklyn and one of the few members of Congress still alive. You support the president’s plan?

Rep. Robert “Bob” Sequious We need to back the president on this. The president has had a clear vision for dealing with the alien threat since the beginning.

Wright Yes, in his rhetoric, but his handling of the alien invasion has been all over the map. His numbers are way, way down. Only 15 percent of the dwindling remnant of humanity feel he has shown strong leadership

Sequious But in the face of overwhelming force. He’s done all he can.

Wright If he thinks one speech can turn that around …

Crosstalk

Blitzer Let’s go to Kay Streite, political analyst and pollster. Welcome to The Situation Room. Do you feel Whitmore hit the right themes?

Streite It was a missed opportunity to reassure struggling citizens that he has a plan.

Tweedy What plan? While it is true that the guy from The Nanny said it was “about bloody time” the Americans launched a counterattack, it is a typical American attitude that the world exists at our behest to do our dirty work while we take all the glory.

Sequious Larry, c’mon I think that’s a very unfair characterization. America needs to show global leadership on this issue. It will send a message loud and clear: Aliens, if you wish to invade earth, you will deal with an international coalition response, not just Americans.

Tweedy But it’s not an international coalition. It’s just America calling all the shots. This was an entirely unilateral effort, typical of Whitmore’s go-it-alone tendencies. He expects the world to simply line up behind him based on a single speech.

Crosstalk

Blitzer Alexa van Smeckler, president of the Faculty Senate and associate professor of feminist history at the smoking remains of Weselyan University. What’s the situation like on the ground where you are?

van Smeckler Roving post-apocalyptic gangs have resorted to cannibalism. My teaching assistant was eaten right in front of me last night. I expect to be eaten soon. It’s terrifying, Wolf.

Blitzer Alexa, allow me to quote from the president’s speech. Reading in a flat monotone from his clipboard “We will not go quietly …” pause as he flips to next page and finds his place “ … into the night. We will not vanish without a fright … wait … fight. We’re going to leave, we’re going to survive.” He seems to be trying to strike an almost Churchillian tone.

van Smeckler Churchillian is right. His clear reference to Robert Burns strikes a notable tone of Anglocentric white heteronormative militancy. Not going quietly into that good night is a typically male, confrontational approach to problems. Famed poet Adrienne Rich once wrote “the red coals more extreme, more curious in their flashing and dying than you wish they were, sitting long after midnight” Those are words of beauty, not violence. Perhaps it is our lot not to rage against the dying of the light but to fade away in the golden light of a waning late-night fire. Also “we’re going to survive” rhetoric seems to have been lifted wholesale from Donna Summer’s female empowerment anthem.

Blitzer I believe that I Will Survive was Gloria Gaynor.

van Smeckler Stop mansplaining me.

Crosstalk

Blitzer Panel, Whitmore’s ignoring key constituencies?

Streite Earlier in his speech he seemed to really hammer on the word “mankind.”

Blitzer Flips though notes on his clipboard. before reading “Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today.” Dangerous words, Kay Streite?

Streite Whitmore has never been strong on women’s issues – equal pay, child care. Does he consider these petty issues to be set aside while he kills aliens? This battle is just an excuse to undermine the gains women have made in favor of some nebulous “mankind.” I’m not falling for it.

Blitzer A huge setback for women, then. Well, the ones still alive.

Streite Clearly.

van Smeckler Absolutely, Wolf.

van Smeckler is suddenly dragged away by a group of survivors wearing tattered rags and human skulls for helmets.

van Smeckler Oh god no! Help!

van Smeckler’s mic is cut off, ending her screams.

Blitzer Thanks for participating, Alexa. Whitmore’s central theme seemed to be about Fourth of July being the U.S. Independence Day. How do you think that will play. Too jingoistic, T. Ken Wright?

Wright That was a very carefully worded mention. I won’t say it was pandering to his base — mainly the tiny remnant of humanity left alive — but no doubt it focus-grouped better than, say, Bastille Day.

Tweedy Again this is just more America-first thinking, as if we should thank America for the freedom it allows everyone else to have. This isn’t just America’s Independence Day, either. The Philippines endured four centuries of imperial oppression before finally being freed from America in 1946. On July Fourth. Trying to impose an American holiday on the world is a sad irony lost on me entirely. He clearly hopes to re-establish American rule and emerge from this with the country as an imperial power.

Sequious That’s unfair. This is a call for unity and you know it. You can forgive some excesses of rhetoric in service of rallying troops before a battle.

Tweedy Yeah, propaganda.

Wright Was King George III’s St. Crispin’s day speech propaganda? This battle is key to Whitmore’s agenda of killing the aliens.

Tweedy You mean genocide, just like Hitler. He’s dehumanizing the enemy.

Sequious But they aren’t humans.

Tweedy So they’re just monsters then. I think we know who the real monster is here.

Crosstalk

Blitzer It’s now time for a CNN Situation Room Fact Check sponsored by Bob Evans Whole-Hog Pork Sausage.

A graphic flies up on the screen showing an alien ship next to an F/A-18 Hornet, with arrows pointing to the various weaponry.

Blitzer Whitmore claims this will be, quote, “the largest aerial battle in the history of humankind” unquote. A Bob Evans Whole-Hog Pork Sausage CNN Fact Check analysis has determined this claim to be “Mostly false,” as the Battle of Kursk, which began, notably, on July 5, 1943, included more than 5,000 aircraft.

Tweedy The man is a liar and has no shame.

Wright Impeach him.

The chyron changes to read “Without evidence, Whitmore falsely claims largest aerial battle in history.”

Blitzer Alicia Sterling, you covered the White House for CNN before it was blown up. Whitmore ran on lower taxes, the economy and jobs. Has he signaled a new agenda with this speech?

Sterling There’s has been a sudden shift in communications coming out of the hole where the White House used to be. Whitmore has abandoned his previous messaging around the economy with a sharp pivot to focus on alien invasion issues for the past two days. It’s not clear he’s sold this shift in White House priorities to voters. Critics say it’s a distraction from his failure to make inroads on Capitol Hill, which is now technically Capitol Smoking Crater. It’s yet another sign of this administration’s lack of a clear message heading into the midterms.

Streite We expect his new message of defeating aliens to sell well in urban areas on the East and West coasts currently under attack. The danger is that red states may see it as just another handout to coastal elites.

Blitzer Alicia, are sources telling you that the Whitmore Administration sees political opportunities in this messaging shift?

Sterling The message of killing aliens may not resonate in areas hardest hit by alien attacks as the administration hopes. Food and shelter are more immediate concerns, and he has yet to address them at all. Whitmore’s insistence on staying the course on a disastrous war could be seen by some as seriously skewed priorities.

Blitzer Tweedy, your take?

Tweedy Whitmore’s militant stance has been a disaster since the start. He claims to have spoken telepathically with an alien and knows their intent, but Amnesty International reports that the alien had been kept in a stress position for hours and was subjected to repeated beatings by a — checks notes — a Capt. Hiller who not only punched but also kicked the alien after it had been incapacitated, unconscious and restrained in a parachute, posing no danger.

Sequious Capt. Hiller is a hero. He greeted the alien with “Welcome to earth” immediately upon their meeting.

Sterling Sources who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter told me that Jayne from Firefly and that actor who always plays a military guy shot the captured alien repeatedly even though it had its tentacles up, was unarmed and behind glass.

Blitzer Final thoughts?

Tweedy The speech was boastful with little to back it. Who’s going to carry out Whitmore’s policy? Some drunken crop-duster pilot? Does someone like that seem like he has the skill to blow up a mile-wide mothership? He’ll probably just crash into it.

Blitzer We’re going back live now to Nevada as the planes are fueled and prepare to go airborne …