In 1945, the average age in the Senate was fifty-nine. Today, it’s sixty-two. As our democracy becomes a gerontocracy, it raises all sorts of policy challenges. But for speechwriters, it raises a unique one. Over the course of the Senate’s history, 299 sitting senators have died in office—one death every nine months. That’s a lot of eulogies to write and deliver. The Senate’s staff speechwriters have put together this template eulogy to ease the task. Morbid? Perhaps. Useful? Quite likely.

Date: October 21, 2013
From: Senate staff speechwriters
Subject: Multiple-Choice Eulogy

Words can’t express how much I’ll miss my good friend, the distinguished senator.

You have never met a [man/woman] more faithful to [his/her] [spouse/lover/dog/constituents].

He may have made a career in Washington, but his heart never left [his home state/his alma mater/defibrillation].

In part that’s because of his upbringing, as the son of a [millworker/dockworker/worker in a factory that made blue collars].

Before he entered the Senate, he served [in uniform/his white-shoe clients/his own self-interest].

A stalwart supporter of [unions/civil unions/Union Carbide] he didn’t need to put his finger to the wind to know [right from wrong/which way to vote/where his campaign contributions came from].

This was a man who always took a [principled/wide] stance.

And so it is right and fitting that generations hence will find his name gracing [a train station/a post office/a deposition].

On a personal note, I will always cherish the memories of our time together [on the Senate floor/
golfing/swimming naked in the Sea of Galilee].

Quite simply, he was a great [friend/mentor/alibi].

Our thoughts and prayers are with his [family/unacknowledged second family] at this difficult time.

Let me leave you with the words he loved, the words of [the poet/an Irish ballad/a bawdy limerick].
[Insert poem/ballad/limerick here.]

My friend, I will miss you terribly. But I’ll always feel close to you, especially as I move into your
hideaway office.

God rest your soul.

By the staff of West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategy firm.

Washington Monthly

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