...because they just didn't know when to shut up.
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Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen is Asia’s longest serving ruler. Fitting perhaps that he just delivered a speech to parliament that lasted five hours and twenty minutes. Believe it or not, however, the only record Sen broke with his long-winded address was his own. Allowing no time for breaks or questions, the speech was Sen’s longest yet, but pales in comparison to some of these other long-winded locutions.
Among the real contenders, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was uncharacteristically quiet last summer while he battled cancer. He stopped airing his traditional Sunday television program and appeared unwell in public. In January, however, Chavez announced he had regained his health and was ready for re-election. To prove his vigor, he delivered an annual address to the National Assembly that lasted more than nine hours. He stood for the duration and paused only to answer several questions.
William Henry Harrison
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Some people just can’t be flexible. William Henry Harrison was the ninth American president. Don't kick youself for failing to remember him, however: he held office for a mere month.
A former general, “Old Tippecanoe” Harrison may have been 68, but he was tough. So tough he refused to put on a coat or hat when giving his inaugural address. At an hour and forty-five minutes, it was the longest in history, despite the fact that it was snowing. Hard.
He died of pneumonia exactly a month later, in April 1841.
Vice President John Tyler, who succeeded him, was consequently known as “His Accidency.”
So remember world leaders—keep your speeches short, and always be adaptable!
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Senator James Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster ever made by a single senator. Thurmond was so committed to preventing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 that he took to the floor and spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
Thurmond argued that the bill— which would ensure black voters could access voting booths — was not only unconstitutional but also amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.”
After Thurmond droned on about his grandmother’s biscuit recipe, Senator William Knowland commented that his speech was “cruel and unusual punishment” for his colleagues.
Thurmond didn’t take any breaks, having taken a steam bath earlier in the evening to help prevent the need for trips to the toilet. Cots were brought in for senators to sleep.
Thurmond stopped talking at 9:12 pm on August 29th. The bill passed two hours later, 62-15. The number of senators whose votes he swayed: 0.
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Two years before his death at the hands of Libyan rebels last year, Col. Muammar Gaddafi stood in front of the United Nations General Assembly and bored everyone in the room nearly to death.
Exceeding a 15-minute time limit for speeches, Gaddafi lambasted the international community for a whopping 96 minutes.
The Libyan dictator made good use of his index finger during his tirade by pointing at what he said were the UN's many injustices. Among them were the ineffectiveness of and inequality embedded into the UN — especially the Security Council's five permanent members — along with the Iraq War, which he characterized as the "mother of all evils.”
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
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Some people can talk for a long time. Others, a very long time. And still others can speak for days.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's first president, belongs to the last group. He began a speech to the Grand National Assembly on October 10, 1927. He finished six days later.
At 36 hours and 31 minutes, it’s less of a speech and more of a book. Known as Nutuk, it described the events of the Turkish war of independence and the country's founding, possibly in real time. Ataturk also devoted a large part of his speech to criticizing his opponents.
Congratulations on being able to speak such a ridiculously long time. You are the longwinded-iest man we know.