Politics

The President Ended This Year's SONA With His Favorite Abe Lincoln Quote

The President has long been fond of these words.
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons - United States Library of Congress / Presidential Communications Operations Office
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This year's State of the Nation Address is done and over with. This time around, President Rodrigo Duterte mostly stuck to his prepared speech, with relatively few instances of trailing off extemporaneously.

Within the 49 minutes for which he spoke, Duterte discussed many of the relevant issues that he was expected to, including the war on drugs, corruption in government, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the closure of Boracay, package two of the tax reform law, the rising prices of goods, the Universal Healthcare Bill, and our relations with China and the West Philippine Sea. With the exception of the pre-speech drama surrounding the position of House Speaker, everything went according to plan.

It's worthy to note that the President ended his speech with a quote from former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It's a quote that he's used in at least two other speeches in the past, to express his sentiments about criticism:

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how—the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

Prior to the 2018 SONA, Duterte referenced this quote in a speech in 2017, addressing the Death Squad allegations against him. Prior, in 2016, he used it as a blanket response to the many critics of his administration. It can be taken as an expression of contempt in the face of criticism.

A little background: The quote itself was first published in a book entitled Six Months at the White House With Abraham Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter. The author was a portrait painter who worked on a painting of Lincoln, and in the six months that it took him to do it, he was able to spend time with the President and members of his cabinet. He wrote a book about his interactions, in which he recounted:

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The President was once speaking of an attack made on him by the Committee on the Conduct of War, for a certain alleged blunder, or something worse, in the Southwest—the matter involved being one which had fallen directly under the observation of the officer to whom he was talking, who possessed official evidence completely upsetting all the conclusions of the Committee.

"Oh no," replied the President, "at least not now. If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how—the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

So as always, the President continues to dismiss his many critics and any national outcry, even as their cases against him continue to mount.

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