Vol. 1, Issue 33, December 30, 2003
Education for the Otiose
The Specious Report

Time Capsule Reveals New Set of White House Tapes - From 1903

Town officials in Alexandria, Virginia were eagerly looking forward to opening a century-old time capsule on Christmas day. However, when the brass box was unsealed, in addition to the typical assortment of newspapers and memorabilia, they found an unexpected historical treasure.

"It appears that Nixon was not the first to make recordings in the White House," said Alexandria mayor Kerry Donley. "The ramifications of this discovery will take some time to assess, I imagine."

Within the large brass box was a case of 64 Edisonphone wax cylinders which had apparently been recorded by President Teddy Roosevelt during the first two years of his presidency in 1901-1902. The cylinders - which can only be played on an Edison Cylinder Phonograph - contain very scratchy but nonetheless suggestive recordings of conversations in the White House.

"It's surprising to learn that rooms were being "bugged" back in 1901," said political analyst Corey Herford. "But frankly, the technology was so new at the time that they probably could have left the recording machine running in the middle of a room and no one would realize what it was, or what it was doing."

Roosevelt was a forceful and energetic president known for his strong foreign policies, based on "speaking softly and carrying a big stick." The cylinders played so far suggest that Roosevelt had some old "Rough Rider" Army buddies using big sticks to investigate the railroad monopolies of the day by breaking into a hotel.

"It's remarkably reminiscent of the Watergate incident," said Herford, "which is undoubtedly why someone tossed these in a box where they'd be undisturbed for a century."

A congressional spokesperson has already said that a special prosecutor may be appointed depending on the contents of the rest of the cylinders, although who would be investigated, and to what end, remains unclear.

"This is really just an historical find being made into something it's not," said Vice President Dick Cheney. "The fact that Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican is surely no coincidence. I think it patently inappropriate for the liberal media to cast a shadow on the legacy of one of our great early Republican presidents, and by extension on the Republican party."

Witnesses present at the playing of the first cylinder have noted that Roosevelt's voice is the clearest by far, and provides much of the plain-spoken conversation that appears the most compromising.

"Sounds like Teddy should have followed his own advice, and kept his voice down," said Herford.

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