Sunday, April 23, 2006

Speeches 101. Sorry, this ain't no West Wing

Don't ask me how or why, but a few hours ago I found myself in the presence of some of Canada's most seasonsed communication experts.

Men and woman who worked with former Premiers, Prime Ministers and one dude who even claimed to be a former assistant press secretary to a former US President were called together to help a particular leadership candidate.

In all, fifteen people sat around the table feverishly trying to one-up each other while we, 6 of the most awestruck political wannabe's, hugged the wall.

For the better part of 4 hours they spoke of the great orative powers of Trudeau, Levesque, Clinton, Regan and Hitler (yeah, the lady who brought up his name then spent several minutes speaking a-mile-a-minute justifying her use of Hilter's name in the same sentence as Trudeau's).

A few laughs were had at the expense of President George W. Bush, naturally, and there was a surprisingly lengthy debate over including French text in speeches given by obviously non-French speaking individuals.

Someone mentions John Tory. More laughter.

Not realizing that I had gone from thinking to myself to speaking to myself, I was mortified when someone at the far end of the table asked me (in a very condensing like-you-know-anything-about-anything tone) to repeat myself.

Feeling the pain of embarrassment, I stood.

As I looked for the nearest exit (run, Run, RUN), I thought of how to apologize for my interruption without sounding like an idiot. My very dignity was at stake and I needed to escape with at least that--I was sure to be tossed by the increasingly red faced campaign manager seated a mere 5 feet of me.

As I said a silent 'Hail Mary', I thought of the last political book I read Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership, and the Making of Canada by John Duffy. The irony was not lost on me.

I listed a few well known speeches: Sir John A. MacDonald making a case for Confederation, while Joseph Howe heckled him; Louis Riel pleading his case to the Regina jury in 1885; Nellie McClung demanding the vote for women; the legendary face-off between Pierre Trudeau and Rene Levesque during the 1980 Quebec referendum; and (for the lone gentleman from the US) Barak Obama's address to the 2004 National Democratic Convention.

As I turned to sit back down the I-am-a-former-assistant-press-secretary dude asked what was so great about Obama's speech?

Vile Republican, I thought.

Although I couldn't remember most of his speech, I was able to paraphrase (quite horribly I must say) the following:

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties....

Realizing that I would need more, I dug deep to remember the rest:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. It is that fundamental belief -- It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work.

He continued to stare at me but said nothing more. Fearing I would pass out, I returned to my seat.

As I sat down, I looked at my fellow wall-huggers and thought, I am so fired.

Barak Obama 2004 National Democratic Convention Speech.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was bloody hilarious. you have balls of steal lady, balls of steal.

8:50 a.m., April 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might I suggest she return them from whomever she stole them from and purchase some balls of STEEL?

6:59 p.m., May 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we used to laugh when we mentioned dalton mcguinty's was fine for one election...then we realized, oh shit, we might be in trouble.

I'm sure that's the way the federal liberals used to feel about Stephen Harper...hmmmm....

Here's some advice, let sleeping dogs lie...

8:20 a.m., May 03, 2006  
Blogger Bish said...

Thanks for the advice Anon.

However, the "dog" has been asleep for so long I thought it had died. Much to my surprise it has a pulse; it's weak and threading but it's there.

If I may be so bold, give the poor animal a round of epinephrine and remind him that the election is 18 months away.

Nap time is over.

1:11 p.m., May 03, 2006  

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