Bush 41: The commencement speech that was never heard

Tom Paine

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When I graduated from Business School some time ago, I received my degree in a separate business school ceremony before attending the general commencement ceremony for the entire university across campus. It was a perfect May day in Charlottesville. We were honored to have then-Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush as the commencement speaker. One of his sons, Marvin, had received an undergraduate degree from the University on that day.

Bush began his speech, but within a couple of minutes the microphone cut off. No problem, someone adjusted it. He started again, but the mic cut off again in a few seconds. After a brief delay, he began again, and then it cut off. This happened over and over again, perhaps a total of 10 times, until he finally gave up.

It was difficult for all of us to watch that. but Bush was patient and handled it professionally. I pondered whether it was just a short, or if someone on the University's staff was deliberately sabotaging his speech. More likely the former. But I never heard an explanation.

Although most commencement speeches are formulaic, I would have certainly liked to have heard what he had to say.


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