President Thomas Whitmore giving an address about an alien invasion

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

11-minute read

President Whitmore is speaking. He’s in a little 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.” A stock ticker and a promo for an upcoming special CNN Reports: Aliens Invade – Crisis from the Sky are also onscreen.

“… 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.

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 …

Rep. Robert “Bob” Sequious cutting in We need to back the president on this. If it had been George Bush giving the speech …

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, then?

Sequious 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.

Sequious … but in the face of overwhelming force …

Wright … Only 15 percent of the dwindling remnant of humanity feel he has shown strong leadership …

Sequious … he’s done all he can to win the …

Wright … and 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 cutting in 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 …

Sequious Larry … Larry … Larry …

Tweedy … 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.

Crosstalk

Tweedy But it’s not an international coalition …

Crosstalk

Tweedy 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.

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, his Never Surrender speech.

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.

Blitzer Panel, he’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. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more.” 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?

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.

Wright That’s unfair. This is a call for unity and you know it. You can forgive some excesses of rhetoric in service of …

Tweedy Propaganda?

Wright … rallying troops before a battle.

Tweedy So, propaganda?

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

Tweedy Genocide, just like Hitler.

Wright I don’t think that’s …

Crosstalk

Tweedy He’s dehumanizing the enemy.

Wright But they aren’t humans.

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

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 CNN Fact Check analysis has determined this claim to be “Mostly false,” as the Battle of Kursk, which began on July 5, 1943, included more than 5,000 aircraft. The White House has failed to provide any details about the number of aircraft participating in today’s battle. Additionally forces are hastily recruited pilots with little or no real combat experience.

Tweedy The man is a liar and has no shame.

Wright Impeach him.

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. Typically administrations telegraph moves ahead of time, but Whitmore was completely silent on the alien invasion issue until two days ago, and it’s dominated since. It’s not clear he’s sold this sharp 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.

Sequious Oh, come on. He’s saving Earth!

Wright He blew up Houston just to gain a few extra seats in Congress!

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 This just in: A CNN / Facebook flash poll finds that 79 precent of viewers say that food and shelter are immediate concerns, 61 percent say Whitmore has yet to address these concerns at all and 58 percent say that staying the course on a disastrous war could be seen as a skewed priorities.

Blitzer Tweedy, your take?

Tweedy Whitmore’s militant stance has been a disaster since the start. He’s constantly put our troops in danger needlessly. He claims to have spoken telepathically with an alien and knows their intent, but Amnesty Intergalactic reports that the alien was 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 and restrained in a parachute.

Sequious Capt. Hiller is a hero. An astronaut candidate. He welcomed the alien to earth almost immediately upon their meeting.

Sterling Sources who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter told me that the guy who played Jayne on 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 posed no immediate threat.

Blitzer Final thoughts?

Sequious It was a strong well-crafted speech.

Tweedy I disagree. It was boastful with little to back it. Who’s going to carry out Whitmore’s policy? Some drunken crop-duster pilot in his rag-tag air force? 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 ….