"YOU won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.''
Whoever said concession speeches don't matter has my objection.
Remember former US president Richard Nixon of the infamous Watergate scandal. When he lost in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, he lashed out at media with his infamous lines.
Understandably, the US media lashed back, "Well, he ain't called 'Dick' for nothing." And Nixon's nickname became a byword to kick him with.
Though my vote went elsewhere but not to Gilbert Teodoro, Richard Gordon and Manuel Villar, I nevertheless appreciated their quick concessions and magnanimity in defeat.
Their "The people have spoken" and positively charged invitation to all Filipinos to work together in the face of the enormous challenges facing Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, signaled their oneness in desiring post-election stability.
Concession speeches, after all, are what political scientist Paul Corcoran from the University of Adelaide in Australia calls "the rhetoric of defeat." Their role: to help declare the legitimacy of election results, push for national unity, and smoothen efforts for power to transfer peacefully and effectively from the previous leadership to the next.
Leaders of this caliber are the need of the hour after every election. In doing so, they belong to that community of leaders who say it was a good fight, but it is time to move on.
Winners, on the other hand, also engage in the rhetoric, most dominantly by congratulating fellow candidates for the good fight, despite some isolated exchanges in mudslinging and brickbats. In short, the battle was fought, but now the time has come to continue the work.
In the US presidential elections, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama acknowledged post-election phone calls.
McCain said, "I had the honor of calling… to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love. In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his (Obama) success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance."
Obama's response was equally gracious. "Senator McCain has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader."
Even within a select group, the change of hands deserves a ritual that must ease the pain for everyone concerned, but make them look to the future with hope. Former British prime minister Tony Blair, upon bowing out to Gordon Brown, is remembered for an emotional speech that drew a standing ovation.
Apologizing for the times he "fell short," he profusely thanked everyone for his 10 years. He said, "I think that is long enough for me, but more especially for the country," and then shared in retrospect, "Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down."
I voted for Mar Roxas to be vice president. I never liked Jejomar Binay, especially when his first complaint as vice president was of an office too small and a table too big.
But I think Roxas should just move on, and help speed up this country's stability.