State of Maryland
Question: Who was the first non-lawyer elected president, excluding generals? Answer: Teddy Roosevelt, and he was nearly both, having dropped out of Columbia Law School to run for office and, later, serving as a colonel during the Spanish-American War. Three quarters of his presidential predecessors were lawyers.
I welcome lawyers as presidents. The lawyers including Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR usually were more effective than the non-lawyer such as Chester Arthur (customs official), Warren Harding (publisher), Herbert Hoover (engineer), Jimmy Carter (sanctimonious peanut farmer), and George W. Bush (cocaine addict).
However, I do object to lawyers as lyricists, in particular, as lyricist for our national anthem. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer.
This explains why the lyrics are as memorable and stirring as a motion for summary judgment. If I try to recite them without singing the tune, I soon become lost in “gallant rockets' last gleaming” and “twilight’s perilous ramparts streaming.” Consider the first verse (the only one anybody knows):
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Key takes 80 words to ask, “Is the flag flying?” Don’t try to justify this verbosity as poetic. I’ve read more poetic depositions.
My guess is that the meter was running. Land of the Free, my ass: As a lawyer Francis Scott Key was celebrating the “Land of the Fee.” He billed by the word. His first draft was even more prolix:
Oh say can you see,
(to include without limitation, to
observe, look at, behold,
examine, inspect, regard,
view, mark, perceive,
spot, glimpse, detect,
notice, discern, scrutinize,
We need a new national anthem. Why memorialize getting trounced in a war where our only significant victory occurred after the war ended? A war lacking a decent name? Did we label World War II “The War of 1942?”
We need an anthem that honors our Paramount American Value — MONEY. "Material Girl" or "If You’ve Got The Money Honey, I’ve Got The Time" would do, but my choice is "Money (That’s What I Want)."
Think of every Mariners' baseball game preceded by the rousing singing of:
The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees.
I want money
That's what I want
That's what I want
That's what I want.
Francis Scott Key, and all other lawyers, would be proud.
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