Sunday, November 30, 2008
Alright, Already with the Fond Farewells
If you like sappy, overly sentimental, and elongated speech making, come on up to Lansing because over the next few weeks, the joint will be overflowing with just that. It's a long standing tradition that folks who are leaving the legislature get one last shot at impressing their friends with a farewell speech. Never mind that most of the speeches are memorable in that they are unmemorable, but there could be as many as 44 such swan songs. 44! Please don't make me cover all of them! Frankly these speeches ain't what they use to be. Prior to term limits, the number of lawmakers that actually departed was miniscule so when one of the titans of the house or senate left, it was a big deal. And when they spo ke they could legitimately wax on about how tough it was to leave after twenty or more years of friendships, late night card games, and doing the people's business. There was a sense of history in those remarks. Nowadays it is anything but because nobody has been around long enough to amass much of a record let alone any history of note. After all how much damage/success can one have in six years or less? But that stark legislative fact of life will be conveniently ignored as each retiree takes his or her turn to say the same thing that the person before him or her said. How many times we will hear, "I will miss the people?" Or I know that my successor will continue to represent (fill in the blank of local town) just as I had the pleasure to do lo these many years. Blah, blah, blah. This is not to belittle the public service these folks have given to the state. Each has made a contribution but any farewell speech that goes beyond three minutes will sound a bit puffy, self-aggrandizing and simply designed to leave a legacy when no legacy can be left. Suffice it to say the three-minute suggestion will be ignored, however, because give a politician the microphone to say good-bye and you'll never get the darn thing back.