Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Speech By: Marion Roach Smith
Date: 2002
Occasion: Commencement
Let’s begin with full disclosure – Marion Roach Smith is a friend, and writing instructor. She teaches an excellent writing class here in the capitol region, and, whether you are looking to develop, or just hone your writing skills, I highly recommend it.

That said – let’s take a look at 15 Rules for Us Girls to Live By.

One of the difficult tasks in delivering a commencement address is the opening. While it is the speaker’s assigned mission to offer insight and words of wisdom to the audience, from the speaker’s own perspective, “I” is a terrible way to start a speech. Yet people are there to listen to what “You” have to say.

Marion handles this dilemma quite nicely. “Why would I be asked to speak at a school commencement, my daughter wanted to know?” It’s a great start, because it’s a little self-deprecating, it’s a question asked by someone else, and, it’s even a great way to let the audience know she has a daughter. That last point means she has created instant identification with the two main elements of the audience – the parents, who are obviously also the parents of daughters, and those daughters themselves.

Then she proceeds to focus attention directly on the new graduates by offering her 15 rules.

First is: “Never be without at least one pair of red shoes. There are few situations in life that cannot be improved by them.” All right, I have to confess – I’m not really a “red shoes” kind of guy. Although I do have a pair of white bucks, which, worn with the blue seersucker suit on a bright summer day, makes people notice. In a good way. So I kind of get this.

Next is: “Don’t read the Cliff Notes. Read the book.” Face it, this is not a rule for “Us Girls,” it’s a rule for everybody. I already knew what evolution was, and how it worked, when I read Darwin’s Origin of Species. But reading the book, and understanding how he arrived at his conclusions, made Darwin’s theory available in a new way. I hope by now, eight years later, those in Marion’s audience are able to cite their own examples.

Next we get to: “Wear lipstick. All right, we have now reached a point in the speech that far exceeds by limited ability to fathom. I don’t get lipstick. I don’t just mean on me – I don’t even get why women wear it! So, to make it a “rule to live by,” simply is beyond my comprehension.

Marion goes on to explain: “It feels great, and it’s fun, and all too often we depend on other people to make us feel good and show us a good time. Get yourself some lipstick, and every time you apply it, remember that this is one of your rules of life: to show yourself a good time, in your shade, on your terms.


In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m a real guy, and particularly fond of the girl-next-door look to boot. This explanation still hasn’t helped much.

The nearest I can figure is that wearing lipstick for a woman is like throwing a ball for a man. There’s nothing like picking up a ball at a picnic or on a playground, and throwing a nice tight spiral. It’s even better if you can snap off a throw with zip, maybe enough to get that nasty little hum which warns the guy about to catch it that his hands are going to burn when he does. Then the guy at the receiving end picks it back up and tries to throw it back exactly the same way. Perhaps it’s like that.

I don’t know.

So why am I focusing so much attention on one out of fifteen rules, particularly one I admittedly don’t understand? Here’s the thing – I don’t need to know. It’s not intended for me, or anyone like me. It was meant to be heard, and understood, by the girls of the Albany Academy. Marion has not only connected with those girls in a way they can personally identify – but in a way that even has the power to exclude some of those listeners for whom the speech is not intended! What wonderful shared identification!

There are a dozen more rules, many of which apply to everyone, some of which – not so much. But I bet Marion had their attention for every one of them!

From The Bully Pulpit - Tom

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tear Down This Wall - Back Story

How does a Presidential speech get written? As I’ve mentioned here, or here, a Presidential speech is almost never a case of one writer, no matter how talented, sitting down at a desk and whipping up some stirring rhetoric. It almost always involves input from various departments of a very large government.

Each of those has specific, and to their mind at least, quite convincing arguments about why the President should say what they want the President to say. Most often, they get their way.

In fact, it’s a wonder a President ever has anything to say that’s even worth listening to.

Today I ran across a fascinating blog post by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who was one of President Reagan’s speech writers for his “Tear Down This Wall” speech.

He describes the strategy the President’s speech writers employed to get the speech past powerful figures like Secretary of State George Schultz, and General Colin Powell. Rohrabacher and his colleagues knew that the phrase “Tear down this wall,” would be problematic for the senior advisors who normally have enough influence to get things taken from a speech.

By getting their draft into the President’s hands before it could be watered down by his advisors, the speech writers managed to create something powerful, and memorable.

Today, the line they had to fight so hard to preserve, is what is most memorable about that speech.
Just imagine if Reagan had gone to Berlin and merely said “we think this wall is a really bad idea,” rather than hurl his unmistakable challenge to Gorbachev, with the whole world watching.

Bonn might still be the Capitol of a nation known as West Germany!

From The Bully Pulpit - Tom

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tear Down This Wall

Speech By: President Ronald Reagan
Date: June 12, 1987
Location: Brandenburg Gate
Occasion: Speech to West Berlin
This marks the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. In honor of that occasion, we look to one of his greatest speeches – to the people of West Berlin, in front of the Berlin Wall.

It is likely a difficult thing to imagine, for those of us who truly remember what the Berlin Wall represented – but there are people old enough to walk into a bar and buy a drink today, who had not yet been born while that wall still stood. Today, there is no such thing as an East or West Berlin. It is one city.

President Reagan’s policies largely brought that about, and this speech is emblematic of those policies.

The wall was a stark gulf between the ideals of freedom, and the forces which sought to impose “the will of a totalitarian state.

He begins by recognizing that President Kennedy and two other Presidents since, have come to this divided city to speak, and that this is his second trip. It is repeating to Berlin, and the world, the old American adage – partisanship ends at the water’s edge.

There is also some danger in this – President Kennedy’s speech, featuring the famous line “Ich bin ein Berliner,” was one of the most famous foreign policy speeches in American history. The danger for Reagan was that his own speech, at a moment of great import, would pale by comparison. He proves equal to the task.

We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it's our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom.” More than just the states are united in the U.S.! He ends this paragraph with a phrase in German: “You see, like so many presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

It may be a take off on Kennedy’s Berlin speech, using a German phrase, but it is also a perfect way to establish that all important audience identification. We stand in common, it says to the crowd. He uses the same technique in the very next paragraph: “I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]” He will do it once again a little later.

Next he talks about the wall itself, and the network of barriers that divide Germany: “those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers.” What wonderfully stark imagery this is! A “gash,” an open wound, composed not of torn flesh, but of “barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers.” We can not help but consider that blood has flowed across these barriers just the same.

Then he brings that image to the place where he stands at that very moment: “Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

After this stark reminder, he turns to hope for the future: “Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

He refers to the reforms that have been taking place, in a Soviet Union which is beginning to realize it can no longer sustain this conflict with the West: “And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom.

Then, just about half way into the speech, he comes to the galvanizing line that etches it into the mind: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Tear down this wall!” It is a challenge to action like few others that have ever been issued. It is the most powerful man in the world, telling the man who wields power almost its equal, “This is what you must do!” If your policy of Glasnost really means anything, you must close this gash in the earth, heal this wound. It is the way a President says: “Put up, or shut up.” Show us you mean it.

Much is said after this line, but it really doesn’t matter. The call to action has been hurled, the challenge issued.

He sums up with this assurance: “Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

Then he closes – not with a challenge, or call to action, that’s already been done – but with a wonderful little zinger, aimed at those who protested his appearance in Berlin: “And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again.

I wonder if this last paragraph was not added at the last moment, perhaps even the morning of the speech, because the rest of the speech was almost certainly finished before the President climbed aboard Air Force One for the trip to Europe. It is well done, if that is the case. I remember laughing out loud when I heard this the first time, because it rang so true.

With the judgment of history now rendered, that truth is now obvious.

Length (words): 2651
Text Posted: The History Place

From The Bully Pulpit – Tom

Monday, January 31, 2011

State of the Union 2011

Speech By: President Obama
Date: January 25, 2011
Location: House of Representatives
Occasion: State of the Union
It may be that he set the bar so high with his speech in Arizona, that any subsequent effort would be a mere shadow in its wake; or, maybe, it may be the nature of the speech itself, which is akin to a homeowners “to-do list” on a busy weekend – except this id for a nation of 300 million people, and for an entire year; and maybe, just maybe, it was the new seating arrangements, which not only blurred the partisan affiliation of the audience, but blunted their reaction to the speech, as well. Whatever the reason – the President’s State of the Union address was less than inspiring.

In fact, it would not be uncharitable to say it fell flat.

A State of the Union speech is assembled by a committee, the different agencies of government, the different interests among the public to whom the President wants to appeal, or to whom he owes a special thank you – and none of them are gathered in the same room to hear what the others have to say. It’s not a condition geared towards achieving excellence.

But last year’s speech was a solid effort.

This year’s speech was slightly shorter (about 300 words) than last year’s. But it seemed longer.

It may be that the new practice of having members of each party sit next to each other, diminished the enthusiasm, or the energy of the audience.

It may be, that sitting interspersed dilutes the effect of support for what the President is saying.

It occurs to me that the suggestion to mix up the seating came from one of the President’s own, now much reduced, party. Perhaps the idea was to distribute the President’s Democratic colleagues throughout the audience, and, in so doing, show more support throughout the House chamber than would otherwise have been exhibited. 

The problem seems to be that rather than distributing the President’s support more widely throughout the audience, it became diluted. If showing greater support was the intent, it was indeed a miscalculation.

As for the rhetoric of the speech itself, he appears to have abandoned the phrase “Let me be clear,” an expression which had become distressingly common in his earlier speeches. However, he still begins sentences with the word “And,” far too often. In this case, it was 49 times in 480 sentences. That’s more than 10 per cent of the time. The President, and his speech writers, can do better than that.

Finally, let’s talk about the catch-phrase of the speech “This is our Sputnik moment.” If you have doubts that this is the phrase the White House wanted to promote – go back and look at all the press coverage, just prior to, and just after the speech. Almost every outlet picked up on that phrase. 

Was that because it’s catchy, and has been on everyone’s lips in the days following the speech? No, it’s because the White House press office pushed it, thinking, or at least hoping, it would capture the public’s imagination.

Just one more miscalculation.

Length (words): 6945
Text Posted: The White House

From The Bully Pulpit - Tom

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ask Not

Speech By: John F. Kennedy
Date: January 20 1961
Location: U.S. Capitol
Occasion: Inaugural Address
We view this speech today through the long lense of half a century. That long perspective has done nothing to diminish its power.

Despite the pomp, ceremony, and celebration attendant with a Presidential inauguration, few inaugural speeches are memorable. Among that number we might include Roosevelt’s first, both of Lincoln’s, and, perhaps, Jefferson’s first. 

William Henry Harrison’s was memorable, but not for the reason’s he might have preferred. It was the longest, taking just over two hours to deliver outdoors on a cold, wet, March day. (Inauguration day was originally March 4.) He proceeded from there to serve the shortest term in office, just over 31 days, expiring from pneumonia and septicemia. While it is probably not true that “Old Tippecanoe’s” pneumonia resulted from his delivery of a two hour speech in inclement weather, it likely served as a warning to his successors.

Kennedy’s speech was reasonably brief, running only 14 minutes and 1364 words. So what, in this brief address, is so special?

For one thing, it is quite deliberately aimed at the whole world – not just the people he had just sworn an oath to govern. It might have been, in another setting a great foreign policy speech.

He is also clearly trying to dispel doubts, about whether he, the youngest man ever elected to the post, is up to the job. He does this by by creating an image of the historic forbears who created this great and mighty country he now leads – “For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

He then proceeds to outline the one great concern of his time: “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” There it is – in subtle but undoubted form – the one great fear of his nascent presidency, and the world at large. Nuclear war.

At that point, he issues one of the great rhetorical passages of the speech: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans...” It conjures images of an ancient Greek messenger, tiring from his exertions, handing off the torch to the next runner, to light the way to the next city, so the message would not be delayed. What is particularly striking about this image is that the tradition of passing a torch is an invention of the modern Olympic Games, not the ancient ones. It dates back only to 1936!

Next he resorts to one of the most effective techniques of good speech writing – repetition. As we have discussed before, repetition serves the same purpose in a speech, as bullet points do on a piece of paper. It prepares the audience for each point the speaker wants to emphasize.

The phrase is “To those,” and it is an appeal to the world. To “old allies, new states, people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, sister republics south of our border, the United Nations, and finally, nations who would make themselves our adversary.

To each of these is offered a pledge – save for that last, “nations who would make themselves our adversary.” To those he makes a request: “that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.” It is now nearly a quarter century since President Reagan’s speech in the shadow of the Berlin wall, led to a lessening of tensions between the world’s two great nuclear powers. It somehow seems alarmist to read the words of 50 years ago. But at the time, it was anything but – as the Cuban missile crisis would soon prove.

He again resorts to using repetition, with the phrase: “Let both sides.” It is a challenge to both sides – to use their power to advance the human condition rather than diminish it.

Near the end, he issues a phrase which sounds hauntingly reminiscent of Lincoln’s first inaugural: “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. In Lincoln’s version it sounds like this: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.

Another haunting phrase from that paragraph is this: “The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.” It can’t help but escape notice that his own older brother would lie in just such a grave, had enough of his remains been recovered to bury, and, that he himself might have occupied such a grave, had things gone just a little worse that dark night in the Solomon Islands.

He expresses the resolve of his administration, and his nation, to defend freedom. Then it is on to the summation – the call to action. And a historic call it is.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

It could have just as easily been – “Don’t ask what your country can do for you.” But that would not have offered the rhetorical flourish which makes the phrase so memorable. Not only that, there is a natural cadence to this phrasing that creates a dramatic pause after “Ask not,” that would have been otherwise lacking.

From The Bully Pulpit – Tom

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Speech By: President BarackObama
Date: January 12, 2011
Location: University of Arizona
Occasion: Service for those shot in Tucson
No one wishes to be the bearer of bad news. In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh generally had the messenger who brought unpleasant tidings executed. While it wasn’t exactly news at this point, President Obama’s speech in response to the criminal attacks in Tucson last weekend was a sad duty.
 It was also a chance to stand as leader of a nation shocked, and torn and seeking answers. He made the most of it. He begins by establishing that all important shared identification: “I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today,
“I am one of you,” the President is assuring us, “We share this pain together.”
He speaks on behalf of the entire nation in wishing those who have suffered, and lost much, well. And he speaks openly, and unashamedly, of faith. This is not feigned or incongruous – for many of those who were victims of the attack were people of faith. Judge Roll, the President notes, was on his way back from Mass, which he attended every day. It may be of some comfort to his family, and those who share his obviously deep faith, that this was one of his final acts.
In turn, he speaks of each of the six deceased victims – telling a personal tale about each one. This is a well-researched speech.
Again he speaks for all of us: “Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.
Next he speaks of the living, and in particular, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: “I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak.” Then he departs from his prepared text to announce something that just occurred during his visit to her hospital room. “She just opened her eyes for the first time since the shooting,” he reveals, and the crowd goes wild with applause. He is no longer speaking for all of us – but to all of us.
His speech has become a universal appeal to the country. Who among us does not want to see Gabrielle Giffords recover, or is not deeply pained at the loss of nine year-old Christina Taylor Green? He is erecting a big tent – seeking inclusiveness. This is a large country he leads, and he wants us all to be involved in a respectful manner: “at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
At a time when so many have used this horrific crime as an excuse to promote their own political agendas, even, in the most crass manner possible, do political fundraising, the closest the President comes to promoting a political agenda is this: “We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.” Is this a reference, perhaps, to stricter gun control? It gets no more specific than that. But the crowd erupted in sustained applause, so they certainly thought they knew what he meant.
He immediately returns to his role as leader of a great, if wounded, nation: “But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.
Then, he calls on us to seek a higher purpose from this attack: “That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.”
Near the end, he is urging us on to higher calling: “I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”
And: “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost.
He has risen above the sniping, and digging, and vicious calumny of standard political debate, and ascended to a new plane. Now he is asking his nation to join him at that high station.
Truly this is a superior speech at a time such is sorely needed. It would not be venturing too far afield to declare it the best of his Presidency.

Length (words): 2510
Text Posted: New York Times

From The Bully Pulpit - Tom

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two Roads Diverged

Speech By: Governor Andrew Cuomo
Title: State of the State
Date: January 5, 2011
Location: Convention Center - Albany

Much has been made of the Governor’s decision to change the location of the annual State of the State address from its traditional location, in the Assembly Chamber, to the state Convention Center. Well it should. It is a speech heavy in symbolism.

In making this change, he is making a dramatic statement – before one word has been uttered.
He is sending several important messages:
- That he is ready to exercise the full range of powers available to him as Governor.
- That he is looking to involve the public to a greater extent - the Convention Center holds at least twice as many people as the Assembly chamber (2,200 people, according to the Governor himself.).
- That he understands how to reach out to the public directly, and will do so when necessary.
- That at the same time, he is also willing to work with Legislative leaders, demonstrating this by giving Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a chance to address the crowd first.

This speech is different from the inaugural he gave last weekend. An inaugural is a statement of principles, a State of the State, an outline of policies.

This speech is designed to communicate a direction for the state, and the new Governor does so with flair. As if the new location were not symbolic enough, on the stage behind the podium, were seated 62 high school students from every county in the state. This is symbolic not only of greater public involvement, but that this speech is looking to the future.

He uses 82 projected slides to illustrate the major points of his speech. This is a first for this annual speech, something the Governor duly notes. Power Point can often take away from a speech. While the novelty value alone, adds something - particularly a touch of humor - these seemed to enhance it for the most part. This seemed particularly true for those I spoke to later who were in the live audience. It may have lost something for the television audience.

The first of the slides shows a road forking toward the top of the slide. Problems facing New York were listed at the bottom, then as the slides progress, the problems move off-screen on the left side of the fork. The solutions, which come next, take the right fork to exit.

There is much symbolism here. While the left side, which is the road the problems take, can be thought of as the liberal side, or wing, and the right fork the conservative, it might have another interpretation. In classical allusion, the left is the “sinister” side.

In either event, I think the problems were made to exit stage left for a reason.

He also used slides to great effect with a touch of humor, playing on the old phrase “Ships passing in the night.” He used it to illustrate how the budget negotiations between the Executive and both houses of the Legislature – represented by three ships – two representing the Senate and Assembly traveling in one direction, the much larger one representing his office headed on the opposite course, must not be like ships passing in the night.

While perhaps not a completely accurate representation, it was certainly good theater.

The new Governor did not completely abandon rhetorical convention for the comfort of power point. He uses those tried and true techniques of speech making, repetition of phrase, and shared identity:
We have four principles that will guide our new government.
We want a government that pays for performance. No more blank checks.
We want a government that actually gets results in real time.
We want a government that puts the people first and not the special interests first.
We want a government that is an icon for integrity where New Yorkers can be proud of their government once again.

One phrase in particular caught my attention: “New York has no future as the tax capitol of this nation.

He ended his speech with great energy, and - this demonstrates the problems with power point – concluded in rousing fashion, speaking directly to the audience, looking directly at them, instead of turning to look at a projection screen. His energy seemed to rally the crowd, and that is usually the point of a concluding paragraph:
Let this 234th legislature stand up and write a new page in the history book of New York State government. Let this 234th legislature solve these problems at a time of crisis and bring this state to a place that it’s never been. We’re not just going to build back we’re going to build back bigger stronger than ever before. That’s what we’re going to do together. Thank you and God bless you.

If the point was – “It’s time to take a new direction” – it certainly came across.
Length (words): 5448
Text Posted: Albany Times Union

From The Bully Pulpit: - Tom

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

State of Politics

The Bully Pulpit got a mention last night from Liz Benjamin's State of Politics blog, so I thought I'd return the favor. For those of you interested in New York politics but unfamiliar with the State of Politics blog, it's one of the premier political blogs around.

Liz Benjamin is a top-notch reporter, with excellent sources all over the state! She also does duty as host of YNN's Capital Tonight - New York's only statewide political program. Thanks for the mention, Liz.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spare Words

Speech By: Andrew Cuomo
Date: January 1, 2011
Location: New York State Capitol
Occasion: Inaugural
It was an inaugural celebration befitting the times – spare, austere even. Yet that does not mean the words of the inaugural address need be spare. After all, they place no added burden on the public purse.

But these words are indeed spare, for all that there are many of them. The speech itself runs more than 3,500 words. It is plain-spoken with few passages that depend on rhetorical flourishes.

Not only is Andrew Cuomo the first son of a New York Governor to also hold that office, the first Governor Cuomo was a renowned speaker. It can’t be a comfortable feeling to know that there will inevitably be comparisons. Yet, to be a leader in a democracy, public speaking is an essential demand of the job.

The new Governor seems to meet this challenge by concentrating on his plain-spoken approach. “My attitude will be constructive impatience with the status quo of Albany.

This doesn’t mean he abandons all resort to rhetorical convention. For example, he uses repetition to emphasize his points: “New York faces a deficit, a deficit that we talk about all day long: the budget deficit, the budget deficit. But it’s actually worse. The state faces a budget deficit and a competence deficit and an integrity deficit and a trust deficit. And those are the obstacles we really face.

He also demonstrates a distinct change of tone from the inaugural address of the last Governor elected to the post. Where Eliot Spitzer was smug and insulting, Cuomo is gracious and complimentary of others. He makes it clear he is seeking to work cooperatively, not run roughshod over everyone: “because in truth the partnership between the Executive and the Legislature has not been working well for years and that must change.

He regularly resorts to the phrase “My friends.” It’s a way to establish that all-important shared identity with the audience.

It is not a great speech, it is workmanlike. Then again that’s exactly the tone he seems to be setting: “We know what needs to be done. We have known, in truth, what needs to be done for many, many years. What we have to do this time is we actually have to do it,

Our new Governor did use the occasion to announce a radical departure from the security measures of recent years: “And today, my friends, we will reopen the Capitol, literally and figuratively. We will remove the barriers on State Street so the tour buses can return once again. We will be opening up the second floor, the Governor’s floor, so the members of the public will once again have access to their government.

I remember getting on the elevator in the Capitol and riding next to the first Governor Cuomo. You had the opportunity to talk. Just chit-chat, mostly, but if more was called for the opportunity was there. Sadly that was not possible with the last three Governors. It’s nice to think it will be again.

Length (words): 3520

From The Bully Pulpit - Tom