Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rachel Maddow's Smith Commencement Address

 
Rachel delivers Smith Commencement Address (photo h/t cate3221)

I love commencements. I love listening to Pomp and Circumstance, and I love wearing my mortarboard, gown and hood, one of the few looks I am comfortable wearing. Seriously, not that many people can pull it off...(Rachel also does this exceedingly well, might I add). I am, at heart, an academic, a nerd, and I love a good speech. Especially at graduation. But I'm going on the record, right here, to say that a commencement address is a helluva tough thing to write. 

"Okay, so how hard can it be?" you ask. "A joke to open, a little advice and you are home free, right?" Ah, my friend, not so fast. There are many factors to consider. First, it has to be delivered in a short amount of time, because in May or June commencements, everyone is sitting in the sun covered head-to-toe in black polyester. Yeah, black polyester and a warm May morning. Who knows what they were thinking in the middle ages...trying to stay warm, obviously. But I digress...Secondly, you are expected to be amusing, witty, and offer a few laughs, while simultaneously being poignant, and offering memorable advice that's never been heard before, advice that the grads and their families will find relevant to their lives. It's a challenge, believe me...I was only speaking to my junior high kids and their families, yet I spent an inordinate number of hours on the address I was honored to deliver - hardly the expectations of Smith College!

But as always, our Gal Rachel rose to the occasion, delivering a home run of a commencement speech today. Her Smith address ran the gamut, discussing everything from prohibition to deepwater drilling, from government officials snorting coke off a toaster oven to offering the wisdom that "personal triumphs are overrated." Rachel is easily, hands down, one of the funniest, smartest commencement speakers I've ever heard. In her address, she instilled sage advice to the Smith grads and the rest of us in her own inimitable style. So, sit back and enjoy Rachel's commencement address (which was far and above my meager attempt):



I love several of Rachel's quotes, especially her conclusion, and Rachel had so many that are worthy of repeating. My favorites were these:
Be intellectually and morally rigorous in your own decision-making and expect that the important people in your life do the same if they want to stay important to you.
And:
When given the choice between fame and glory, take glory. Glory has a way of sneaking up on fame and stealing its lunch money later, anyway.
Well said, and well-delivered. A terrific commencement address, delivered with the humor and grace we've come to expect of the Maddow. Great speech, Rachel, and congrats on your honorary law degree. And to the Smith girls,  go get 'em - make the world your own.

Fellow politicos,  your thoughts? And my congratulations to all my readers who may be matriculating soon!