John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The Lame Duck Channel The Raven

Posted on June 21, 2010
Once upon a midterm dreary, while Nancy pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten bills
While she nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one not gently rapping, rapping at the chamber’s floor
‘Tis some visitor, the Speaker muttered, tapping at the chamber floor
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying career wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly she wished the morrow; - vainly she sought to borrow
From her colleagues surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Majority -
For the rare and stunning setback whom the voters hit with a two by four -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each blue curtain
Thrilled them - filled them with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of her heart, she stood repeating,
"'Tis some lame duck entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late lame duck  entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently her soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Surely the Madam Speaker will now implore;
But the fact is she was planning, and now she is mapping,
How to get big bills enacted through the chamber floor,
She may have heard you but she will ignore you,
For she hears the Lame Duck who wants even more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long she stood there wondering, cheering,
Scheming, dreaming dreams no Speaker ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, " VAT Tax?"
This she whispered, and an echo murmured back the response, And Cap and Trade!" -
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all the souls within House churning,
Soon again she heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said she, we can make more progress on taxes:
Let me see, then, what the threat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my schedule be full a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the VAT and Cap and Trade and nothing more."

Here she flung open the House doors when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a lame duck of the desperate days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above the chamber floor -
Perched upon a bust of Moses staring down up the chamber floor -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ugly bird beguiling her sad Nancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though her Speaker’s gavel be worn and breaking, thou," the duck said, "art sure no luck,
Ghastly grim and ancient lame duck wandering from the December morn -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the December morn!"
Quoth the Lame Duck "How bout the VAT tax and something more?"

Much the people marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear so plainly,
Though its answer little did the people know or care;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing lame duck above this chamber floor -
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above this chamber door,
With such name as "Lame Duck ever more”

But the lame duck, sitting lonely on the Speaker’s chair, spoke only
That request, as if his soul in that one request he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered -
Till she scarcely more than muttered, "other Congresses have done it before -
On the morrow the Majority will leave me, as my colleagues have gone before."
Then the bird said, "VAT tax and Cap and Trade and nothing more."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said she, "what we must pass is the whole store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom electoral Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till their laws burden even more -
We have to pass our agenda quickly and more
Of more -  yes more."

The Lame Duck was still beguiling Nancy into smiling,
Straight she wheeled a cushioned seat in front of the chamber floor;
Then upon the velvet smile, she betook herself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this lame duck of hers -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous lame duck of hers
Meant in croaking "Vat Tax and Cap and Trade and nothing more."

This the people sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the lame duck whose fiery eyes now burned into our nation’s core;
This and more we sat divining, with our Congress at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, at least VAT Tax and Cap and Trade and maybe more!

Then we thought the Washington air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen Speaker
Swung by the gavel whose raps reverberated around the House floor.
"Wretch," the nation cried, "thy Constitution hath lent thee - by these voters it hath sent thee
To stop and do, from demands of the people, do no more:
Listen , listen to the people,  and forget the idea of VAT and Cap and Trade!"
Quoth the Speaker, "Will will pass more!"

"Prophet!" said the people, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if  lame duck or devil! -
Whether the President sent, or whether Rahm tossed the bills there before,
Some Democrats yet remain undaunted, on this Beltway land enchanted -
On this House by horror haunted- the Speaker did truly implore -
Is there - is there the votes to pass a VAT? - tell me - tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Lame duck, "we need twenty More."

"Prophet!" said the people "thing of evil - prophet still, if lame duck or devil!
By that Constitution that bends above us - by that Moses we both adore -
Tell these voters anger laden if, at the distant election,
It shall punish those who voted a VAT tax and more -
But the rare and powerful maiden whom pushed to tax more."
Quoth the Lame Duck Speaker, "I need twenty more (votes)."

"Be that word our sign in parting, lame duck," the people shrieked upstarting -
"Get thee back into the session and stop the Speaker’s meddling!
Leave no law as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my small business unbroken!- quit the Chamber and leave the floor!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off the floor!"
Quoth the lame duck Speaker, "I need ten more (votes)?"

And the lame duck, never stopping, still is sitting, still is sitting
Under the watchful eyes of Moses just above the chamber’s door;
And his eyes doing all the watching of a demon that is scheming,
To pass cap and trade on the House floor;
And our economy that could be crushed from actions on the floor
Shall be lifted when the people say nevermore!