Harmony County

2011 & 2009 Winner of "Best Humor Column" awarded by the SC Press Association

The lost art of political eloquence

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    There is a story that goes that in 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of theTexasHouse of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey. What follows is his exact answer (taken from the Political Archives of Texas):

   “If you mean whiskey, the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.

   “However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life’s great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.

   “This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle.”

   You have to love this guy. Not only does he compromise his position in two paragraphs he denies doing so in his last sentence. When political prononcements are reduced to mud slinging and avoidances, eloquence is greatly appreciated. Nowadays when you hear the statement, “That is a good question”, or, “That is a very complicated issue”, you had better be upwind of the fan.

   Those two phrases can be translated into either a stall for time in the former or an insult of your intelligence or worthiness to understand the issue in the latter. Then there is the ever popular completely avoiding a question, i.e., when asked a question about the budget you get an answer about illegal immigration.

   However, the eloquent Mr. Sweat accomplishes both sides of the public speaking dictum, “Either blind them with your brilliance, or baffle them with your BS”.

   I am sorry to say that the people ofTexashave lost a most praiseworthy Representative. One can easily imagine that when he finally joined the Choir Invisible and asked the question of why he should be admitted, he left a thoroughly baffled St. Peter, halo askew, blindly blinking his eyes and scratching his head, while Mr. Sweat sauntered through the Pearly Gates with a smug smile on his face.

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Written by harmonycounty

August 4, 2011 at 4:42 p08

Posted in Americana, Humor, Politics

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