By Judy Kurtz
Bipartisanship isn’t completely dead because there’s at least one thing bringing Republicans and Democrats in Washington together: a 150-year-old speech delivered by President Lincoln.
President Obama, along with former Presidents George W. Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Carter, and a slew of lawmakers, including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), are all encouraging Americans to put their memorization skills to the test and learn the Gettysburg Address.
The famed Lincoln speech (you know, the one that begins “Four score and seven years ago …”) celebrates its 150th anniversary on Tuesday.
In videos posted on LearnTheAddress.org, the lawmakers and an impressive batch of celebrities and D.C. insiders — Taylor Swift, Louis C.K., Bob Schieffer, Steven Spielberg, David Gregory, Martha Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), Uma Thurman, Usher, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Gates, Wolf Blitzer, Carol Burnett, Robin Roberts, and Conan O’Brien, just to name a few — are all seen giving their best shot at delivering the historic oration.
“The Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert even gets really into character, donning a Lincoln-esque top hat and beard for his dramatic rendition. Those who want to take a crack at the speech themselves can upload their own videos to the site.
The campaign to commit the roughly two-minute address to memory was inspired by Ken Burns’s upcoming film for PBS and WETA called “The Address,” which follows the story of a small Vermont school where each year, students go about learning and reciting the 16th president’s words. The documentary airs in April.
On the anniversary of the 1863 speech on Tuesday, the channel is also debuting “Lincoln@Gettysburg,” which details how the Civil War-era president used the then-revolutionary telegraph and its impact on the Gettysburg Address.