In the wake of this summer’s Republican and Democratic national conventions, Washington Post reporter Dan Zak wrote a piece spoofing the conventions speeches called “We’re all in this together, separately.”
“We’ve fed the transcripts into a robot that synthesizes and streamlines the partisan political sentiments of the past 10 days,” Zak writes in the introduction to the piece.
Northwestern professor Larry Birnbaum taught text processing in his introductory programming class, and one of his assignments involved writing a program that could generate text in the “tone” of a real person. The Python script involves using Markov chains to make a dictionary of words that commonly occur together. Using this dictionary, the program can output text that “sounds like” the author, since it is using words the author tends to use together.
After reading Zak’s article mocking the robotic language of campaign speeches, I thought it would be fun to actually run the speech transcripts through this algorithm. The results are not gramatically correct but hopefully give a fun perspective on the catchphrases of the convention speakers.
Click a speaker to read the computer-generated text based on the transcript of the real convention speech.
Barack Obama: America, I know that bigger tax code so is what Lincoln meant when the power across the most can help big grin on incomes over their deductions for good jobs here, in wind and even when they think about hope in my grandmother to tell us thousands of what we now you can create a poverty program or one another, and we’ll open more. No family business leaders who died in the entire country on a choice: we finally been driven to ask middle class tomorrow. This is a freedom without wrecking our time. We believe that hard path I’m President, I have made in the community and we celebrate individual initiative. We draw strength from poverty program or duty or raising their community and gas that’s right skills they can’t build another government is heating our friends at the house of America, no matter how they’d never thought he’d be harder, but necessary work – if you have held in the highest bidder, you – I know what we’ve been tested – by the rules. They should do the car or the right beneath our coastlines, or kicking students off a fair who are helping our time. I promised to afford his party’s legacy should have to get sick. And Joe Biden, thank you can gut education, national recognition for the long as you’ve got to pay higher taxes and it’s leaner, more for our lives and the cost America – unless you’re still fighting to new challenges.
Mitt Romney: You did for our faiths, our nation of this President Obama had remarkably vibrant and talent and supported this president cannot tell us what America could look to it fail to preserve liberty, uniting to know Paul Ryan. My country in the vibrancy of his first TV interview as a story of my energy and we will have a great honor. Family income has crushed the utter confidence that united America has been based on America. And yes, freedom of Truman and America’s communities, our families for him. Look around you. And if I can stand up and confident in the past. It has always been and build the love — this Obama is down the strength and America’s next four years and manufacturing jobs – in America, that list those moments you voted for half of families for America. America we deserve better! And with a better place. It has led a powerful appeal. So some of my job by repealing and on our children. He took office supply company and prove myself. This president when the time praying that way he loves his task. An America we CAN do the boys, with a special government commission to be better future. Mr. We are better future. Not on school your kids asleep in good feeling when we want borrow a job can guarantee you try to other businesses. President, America has failed to a trillion dollar cuts to it cost of the children deserve it, our church.
Clint Eastwood: Well, maybe – people are all like-minded, like all now we don’t have made when he says, “Why are all of Lenin. You’re crazy, you’re libertarian or whether you’re libertarian or whether you’re the world.” So – an excuse – weigh both sides. Obama won the election. We don’t have to drive that hard since I can’t tell him to the vest. You know – you say something, ladies and I just like to make my day? See, I don’t have to say something, ladies and always taught to tell him to argue everything, weigh both sides. At least that is something about hope and Mr. Obama. I wondered about hope and bifurcating this administration hasn’t done enough, obviously – why close that, when he was even crying. You did it is so nice guys, if you have is something to argue everything, and I do not go around hot dogging it. We didn’t close that, you, we don’t have to be time for Mitt. Why would you are always weight everything – we’re going to let them around hot dogging it. Ryan are a disgrace, and it to ask him to do you have to drive that is the word anymore. But OK. So, Mr. Obama. Why would you say something, ladies and it was OK. Obama won the word itself play closer to have to myself either. I think that is the Democratic party. Now that word anymore. Romney asked the recent ads going to cure that. You did it, and they have is not ever forget that. How about that?
Michelle Obama: We were plenty of this country should be a kid, I believed in teachers who vowed to put out with who you make… that comes to pass on sacrificing and moments that fundamental American stories possible. I have done and decency – they’re going to the values and he believes that to do.” Every day, she hit a depression, and boldly stand at the health reform for this great democracy to see the stakes are so in the extraordinary president really matters.” Like so many brave men and dreams – the national spotlight? Our life we want any mother, I can get distracted by turning down high-paying jobs right on our proud … and whose values Barack was late. The letter from experience that doorway of cancer whose values Barack and like Barack’s story, and I watched my daughters, and what was so much, if we want something far more qualified than I say that people I see up close and define greatness for yourself and again, they’re not just as your kids and women could defeat a date night for Barack, I see up all the other, to our arms. How would make in the noise. But at that we were taught to see how he became president. You see, even though he’d been brought up at the national spotlight? Thank you, God bless America.
Ann Romney: It’s all the grandmothers, we’re the world with that couple who started the millions of a great thing that price at the moms who always have chapters called MS or play a door propped up on sawhorses. He wanted to solve the good thing. There, he became the daughters. I want to you deserve at college, that chance. My dad who’s going to a woman in love of America: dreams fulfilled help their jobs but I don’t do we could never had. He raised a new life far from the man I could hear a family. You know it’s true, don’t want to be done. I was my future father-in-law, George Romney. And if the time, but that’s a Mormon. In our children out in that there were to think there were a little sisters, we’re the world with him the local emergency room table was nice to every opportunity that kind of America. I read somewhere that Mitt and dads across America needs. Not every American success actually being attacked. Tonight I was nervous — and abiding love we all those things that his partner on family, faith, and earth like school and love their jobs that Mitt Romney to you what holds us to raise our children out of those Americans, our church whose child had absolutely no greater joy. I’ve seen him the nation. And we’re the values that I know what divides us, but would be this country great? He did it as an Episcopalian.
Joe Biden: My fellow Americans, America and we look back now on the way down choices of my loyalty. That has gone before us. I learned of liquidation. He would make. How is nothing decent or a credit collapse, that you provide for placing my fellow citizens: In Tampa, they talked about each other. A future where women control their kitchen tables. Look, President who has always keep them confidence. We still with less–and less–of those guys selling American people. God bless you about what they’re going through. But it’s meant to move forward, boldly forward. And today, they create jobs. And because of the United States of a jobs in 60 Years”, and your children who will continue and re-elect President patiently listened. Where we turn is this nation turned to be healed, you understood that dream. If you to America-they’ve chosen to justice. In the Bain way. And because of the past-and turned the world-if you about my dad were too high, the direction we brought to tell you what they didn’t tell you would have been an implicit understanding. In 2008, Barack and bring to more than a leader-who they didn’t act now. Will it the eye and Congressman Ryan, it would cause of our way. The same determination, the President’s decision, I walk down the time again, I want to pay for placing my favorite expressions. I have never failed policies of you. I want to show the courage to America-they’ve chosen to lead this President.
Chris Christie: We look around and Patrick on the truth – bluntly, directly and what it about our children and create good days, but on the fiscal difficulties and fundamentally reduce the neighbors of our Party. Our founding fathers had the rules she was always fleeting and Paul Ryan, and complicated solutions, they say “not me,” but I am the American greatness. I have failed America. I have good days, but by our nation’s history. I know – demanding that it was she was the next century as Democrats. I know we make no patience for anyone in strengths greater than the naysayers, the size of Washington, D.C. I am still her son as I was just speaking the naysayers, the American citizen and being respected, that truth and made sure we do. That’s what is more about winning the tough issues. I will tell the last one. There’s no mistake, the world. And, together, achieve principled compromise and factory workers and create good days, but I believe as great people don’t want to bankruptcy. They believe in the tough choices and didn’t suffer fools at their game of government. In fact, I believe that truth will make no longer afford to. Standing strong for the truth – the bad days and Bridget marched with the time to be judged and say it: our country back. We believe in the sand, we all knew who took three buses to the job for just speaking the courage to leadership.
Bill Clinton: Ask the reins of my home state to do. None. We simply cannot afford to be half a disaster, and they’re going to do today, I worked with both. Now, at least on education and hoping we’re going to cut spending, especially with a hundred percent of federal government’s ability to put America on the Senate Republican senators because they want to keep their children and interest rates to be good. What works in the next president who weren’t part of country so far, every American to get rid of the rhetoric, they’ll do. They didn’t say this is spent to this. But if you this. So — and they convinced me all over a little stronger and around the White House on the fundamental principles of federal government’s ability to the job score: Obama, they threw him and put people ask you say it’s hard for young people from the Medicare seniors to break it defied arithmetic. Why? Now, the Medicare of us more for Barack Obama. Everybody — not to put a guy for Barack Obama. And it’s this. I believe what really hurt a good work with congressional Republicans and keep the middle class and across the previous 12 years before the work better than we want America and poverty is cooperation, business and cut taxes for Medicaid. Here — but nearly two-thirds of middle-class people who’ve served our nation. They think government is good work requirements in the world, I’m grateful for Medicare savings.
Paul Ryan: She earned a new debt. Each of us, but succeeded where I ask for. He said in some of billions more. That’s freedom, they didn’t even with a gentle presence in our towns and nothing except to take out of the entire governments at a small businesses, the wealth, we thank them. In this nation’s economic business. You have a time for the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – a major factory. But we need to the largest one-time expenditure ever known. When Governor Romney so let me share a fine businessman, he’s pretty experienced at its best. Yet by the world has already passed, like when people are attacks on the old – all was baptized. They are ready. It began with their thinking, and we can be part of Americans is a humane and I accept your nomination is an economic business. Instead, we lead, we will keep federal spending money – and more than two thousand pages of law, to pay for President Obama called a debt than all we do that. President Obama’s first and honorable. We have to keep federal government. And if small businesses, the obvious. But we can do this. For my part, your leaders have to join our founding generation secured those rights come as he might have responsibilities, one entitlement to find the private sector. You have to join the working again. And Mitt Romney so deep that the largest one-time expenditure ever by example.
Dan Hill, a 45-year-old military veteran from Michigan with no relation to me, launched his campaign for Nebraska’s 3rd district House of Representatives to little fanfare in the summer. Seeking to upset incumbent Republican Adrian Smith, Hill ran as a conservative independent and staged a grassroots campaign, traveling the west half of the state to engage rural voters. He even wrote a book describing his background and political views. He offers the book for free on his website. I spoke with Dan Hill, the candidate, recently to find out how he would represent the many people who share our name across the country.
Dan Hill Reports(me) We share the same name.
Dan Hill Yeah, there’s a lot of Dan Hills out there.
DHR Have you been able to meet any Dan Hills during this campaign?
DH No, you’re the first one. I know they’re out there because you just google Dan Hill and all kinds of stuff shows up, like the Canadian singer.
DHR I’m curious, my real name is Daniel and I was named after the Elton John Song. Is your real name Dan or Daniel?
DH It’s Daniel. I was named after my grandfather.
DHR Did you ever go by Danny? I was a Danny with some of my friends.
DH Yeah, I was a Danny. My family called me Danny and when I got halfway through elementary school I wanted to be called Dan. People at school called me Dan but my family called me Danny and it took me a long time to break them of that.
DHR I don’t know how many Dan Hills are in Nebraska’s 3rd district but are there any promises you can make to all those Dan Hills out there to represent well because you’ll be one of the most high profile Dan Hills if elected.
DH Yeah, boy, I wish I could come up with something clever. I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that one and come up with something.
DHR How do you feel going into Tuesday?
DH Actually I feel pretty optimistic. This is an extremely interesting race in the sense that if I win because this is one of the most conservative districts in the entire country. Generally what that means is we only elect republicans. As we get towards the end, my best indication of how we’re doing is how he reacts and I think he’s kinda in panic mode. He’s making calls to people in the press and he’s pressured people in the press off the record they tell you these things. He wouldn’t go to these lengths if he wasn’t pretty darn worried about what’s going to happen. I feel pretty good about it but in terms of objective data we don’t know what’s going to happen on Tuesday because our campaign can’t afford the polling but if it happens it’ll be a national news story and you’ll be on the cutting edge of it because we’ll have won this election probably easily with less money than any race in the country and it’ll be very unique to have a conservative independent knocking off a conservative republican in an upset that noone would have seen coming.
DHR How did you design your campaign?
DH You’ve seen the book. We printed up hard copies of the book and I think we’ve distributed about 9,000 of the books. That was really the planting the seeds phase of this. We had to do everything different to do a campaign like this. The way I looked at the earlier part of the candidate was we were planting the seeds so a few people look at you. You can’t get people to take an interest in politics in July. I knew a lot of the election would come down to how many people we can reach in the last week of the campaign because that’s when a lot of people actually do pay attention to the election. They get their voter guide, they see things on television, they hear things on the radio. So we saved up all of our big money for advertising for really the last week of the campaign and determined people really were unhappy with this guy. If we swing it, we’re swinging it at the last minute and he really doesn’t have time to react. By the time he realizes he’s in trouble, which I think is now, it’s too late for him to really do anything about it. Most of it’s played out like we hoped it would.
DHR Do you have a staff?
DH We have no paid staff. It’s me, my wife and she has a part time job outside the campaign and we have some very dedicated volunteers who do a lot of canvassing, traveling around and talking to people for us. The closest thing we have to a fundraiser was a yard sale. We’re having our party on Tuesday night for the volunteers of the campaign in a barn. It’s actually a very nice barn, but it’s a barn. We have a yard sign that says “Vote for Dan,” the biggest problem we have with that is the high schoolers think they’re cool and they steal them but it’s gotten around. People see the signs and say “who’s Dan, what’s he running for?” and that’s exactly what we want them to do. That kind of thing has gotten us a lot of attention. It’s all grassroots and rural Nebraskans, I think, like that a lot.
DHR In your book, one of the things you foresaw as a challenge was how you’re not originally from Nebraska. Has that been a challenge?
DH That’s been less of an issue than I thought. That’s why I put it in the book, to make it a non-issue and say it’s positive because I’ve been to many places and I appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different places. Far western Nebraska is full of cowboys, it’s ranch country. In Michigan, people in rural Michigan had something bad to say about Detroit. In Illinois, I’m sure rural people in Illinois have plenty to complain about Chicago. That’s just the way it is in most states with rural versus urban. Western Nebraskans a lot of times, I’m from central Nebraska, they don’t feel like we understand each other.
DHR At 45 years old, you’ve lived a lot of life: marriage, children, military service. If you made it to Congress, where would it rank among your life milestones?
DH It’s a big deal. I guess it would seem like a really big deal if I was 30. At this point in my life it’s not nearly as intimidating if it would have been 10 years ago or 15 years ago to do something like this. It’ll be a challenge and I’m sure I’ll feel some stress to actually walk into the capitol building and things like that. I guess it’s not something that scares me or really intimidates me. i think it’ll go well. You don’t know how people are going to react to you, I don’t know how the republicans in congress would receive me. I would caucus with the republicans even though I’m an independent kind of like a Joe Lieberman is to the democrats. It’d be a big deal but I think I’m mentally and emotionally ready for that.
So how do you feel about Nebraska being in the Big Ten next year?
DHR It’s gonna be cool. We were kinda hoping for Notre Dame because they bring that legitimacy and they’re just awful now so we could kick them around. Does Nebraska have a big game this weekend?
DH We’re playing Missouri and really we’ve got to beat Missouri and that will determine who goes to the Big 12 championship. It’s a big game.
DHR The whole state will be watching?
DH Yeah, that’s the thing about Nebraska. We don’t have anything but the Huskers. We have smaller colleges and stuff but there is no professional team of any kind. There’s semi-pro hockey but we don’t have a professional football or baseball team, we don’t have another large university here so everybody is a Husker fan. It’s kind of neat. One thing Nebraska will bring to the Big Ten is they’ll bring the most polite, nice fans that you’ll find. They’ll applaud the other team when the other team beats you and plays a good game. That’s the way they are. They’re intelligent football fans, they know all the assistant coaches, they know the offense, they know the defense, they’re really into. Really nice people, well behaved at games, they follow the team around. When Nebraska comes to Northwestern you’ll see a lot of Husker fans but you won’t have to be afraid of them.
Data journalist from Sacramento, not the r&b singer