Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quote of the Week

I really, really, really wanted to give Quote of the Week to Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, who issued a bizarrely tone-deaf quote about the gold market this week that somehow managed to insult Holocaust-fleeing Jews in Vienna (among others). I also could have shared Tim Iacono's response, which pretty well summed up the strange arrogance of Munger's words.

But given that it's graduation season and about to be election season, I thought this "10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You" piece from the Wall Street Journal was a more seasonally appropriate source for this week's quote. The article itself is nice enough and probably worth a read--I actually think the guy makes some very solid points--but I initially had a lot of trouble getting past the author's first paragraph without shaking my head uncontrollably. Therefore, that first paragraph... is your Quote of the Week.


"I became sick of commencement speeches at about your age. My first job out of college was writing speeches for the governor of Maine. Every spring, I would offer extraordinary tidbits of wisdom to 22-year-olds—which was quite a feat given that I was 23 at the time."
                                      - Charles Wheelan, Wall Street Journal

That's brilliant--a 23-year old penning inspirational speeches to be delivered to 22-year olds, spoken as though they were informed by a lifetime of public service. That's pretty much politics in a nutshell, as far as I'm concerned.

It's not like any of this is news to me--I'm well aware that politicians' speeches and letters are essentially written for them by low-level staffers and strategists, which is why we rarely get anything out of them except for stale talking points. But doesn't it seem like our politicians, as public servants, owe us better than that?

We seriously need to get away from politics-as-usual (including political-speeches-as-usual) and get back to focusing on simply good governance--there IS a way to separate the two, I promise. Maybe someday soon we'll see that it's not only possible but necessary to do so.

[Wall Street Journal]
(h/t Falkenblog)

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