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The Elements of Power by Terry R. BACON

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CHAPTER 2MR. OBAMA GOES TO WASHINGTON

The Power of Eloquence

IN FRANK CAPRA’S CLASSIC FILM MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), A naïve and idealistic junior senator from a Midwestern state goes to Washington, D.C., where he fights for change against the corrupt political establishment that has been subverting American values. Late in the film, defamed, disillusioned, and discouraged, but not yet defeated, he visits the Lincoln Memorial and is heartened by reading the closing words to the Gettysburg Address. Then, in the climactic scene of the film, he stages a one-man filibuster in the Senate chamber, and his rousing, nearly twenty-four-hour-long speech gains him the admiration of fellow senators, as well as the public, and influences his corrupt ...

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