Saturday, September 8, 2007

Keeping Things in Perspective

From a long ago Morris Udall speech at the Air Force Academy is proof that much of what you will hear in the next year is speech writer generated hyperbole:

At a speech at the Air Force Academy, Udall talked about modern politics (at a time when the incumbent president was most unpopular) with a story about a politician who hired a first-rate speechwriter. One day, the young man asked his boss for a raise. He deserved it: The politician was a rising political star, a great speaker, elected a governor, then a senator. But the politician said he would have done this on his own and said no to the raise.
"The young man departed very unhappy, and that night he met the senator at the auditorium and handed him the speech he had written," Udall said. The senator picked up the draft and read it.
"On the first page it said, 'My friends, I have come here tonight with a message of hope. I have come tonight to tell you that this nation can solve its problems.' And the audience was still. He turned the page, and it said, 'I've come here tonight to tell you that we can settle the war in the Mideast, end the oil shortage, build schools, hospitals and highways for the people of this country.'
"He turned the page and said, 'I've come tonight to tell you that we can do this while increasing federal spending, decreasing federal taxes, balancing the federal budget and paying off the national debt.' There was a stillness in the audience and he thought, 'Damn, this was going to be good, one of my best speeches.' He turned the page and read on ... 'I propose to unveil this 10 point program here, and I propose to unveil it now.' "
Udall said the next line, written in big red letters, read, "All right, Big Shot, you're on your own."

The really sad thing is that Republican and Democrat politicians can get caught up in their speechwriter's hyperbole. Does anyone remember the most effective and eventually most costly speechwriter words ever uttered by a politician? They were "Read my Lips! No New Taxes!" It was, as the politician later admitted, only a speech. The gift to the Republic was the Clinton administration, and it is a gift that seems to keep on giving.

This brings us to another Udall, Mark Udall. His speechwriters seem to think that we can wean ourselves from oil and gas simply by refusing to drill for it; that wind power and solar energy will solve our energy problems; and that there is no need to use or even consider the use of nuclear power. His speechwriters happily tell him that there will be no adverse impact on the Colorado economy from his energy policies.

"All right, Big Shot, you're on your own."

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