Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The AG Cup speech

I'm reluctant to criticize a high school student, but I'm reading the winning AG Cup speech in our local paper and thinking wow this is really a good speech. I've coached this event twice and I've come to see that Galvin and Mt. Carmel have this thing down to a science. Last year in Rota -- heavily, heavily Chamorro -- as soon as the Mt. Carmel kid started with the embellished Chamorro accent, I knew we were cooked. Four years ago Harry Blalock's daughter got absolutely robbed. She was by far the best and didnt even place in the top five. She was not my student. Of course, the former Lt. Governor was one of the judges and Harry was relentless on Babauta, so I knew that kind of thing would happen. In fact, when I say she was robbed, I mean Gore to Bush or Marcellus Wallus to Butch style robbery.

Mt. Carmel picks the kid with the best dramatic skills who gives a speech playing up the emotional elements. This kid the other day was near tears, which I'm not picking on him about or suggesting was an inauthentic display. Mt. Carmel's speeches aren't always the best reasoned or the most eloquent, they are good don't get me wrong, but they are the most dramatic and that wins. This is his quote: "I wasn't expecting to win, but I knew that I had one of the most emotional speeches. I knew that I had an edge but I didn't want to assume that I would win.”

I would like to see the best reasoned speech get some props. Rewarding the most emotional all the time sets a standard for poor debate. I'm not saying this kid shouldn't have won. I am saying there are times when I've seen judgment at the AG Cup worse than judgment at the O.J. trial. Professionals under enormous scrutiny give professional sports players All Star and All Pro votes based on reputation, and sometimes I think Mt. Carmel benefits here. Again, I'm not referring to this specific case, but to the big picture.

This winning speech was playing both sides of the fence like a politician, but it was human, reasonably well reasoned, and I am thinking, this is pretty good. Then I hit this section:
"A second mistake was to subject us to the whims of partisan politics. Granted,
by hiring a lobbyist, we share in the blame. But that does not excuse
politicians like Nancy Pelosi from dragging us through partisan bickering as
part of her political witch hunt. We may be small islands, but might should not
make right.The third and worst mistake made by the United States has been to
neglect the unique nature of our islands. As David Cohen has argued, “A better
future for the CNMI cannot be imposed unilaterally from Washington D. C.,
ignoring the insights, wisdom, and aspirations of those to whom this future

First, the demonizing of Nancy Pelosi, like the demonizing of Hillary Clinton and the word "liberal", is an effort elicit negative emotion, which is not much of an argument. There are many things you can criticize about Hillary without making her the boogiewoman. I would have docked him for this flimsy piece of reasoning and lame buzzword appeal. He is doing the same thing presidential candidates or Bill O'Reilly would do, and teenagers couldn't have sold out to polemics of this sort already, could they?

What witch are they hunting? How has the federal government neglected the unique nature of this place? You mean they, like me, find it absurd to expect people to pay for the highest fuel, power and food prices in America on the lowest wages in America. Per capita the federal government dumps more goodies here than probably any place in America. This place plays the American taxpayer for a sucker and then complains. It sickens me and puts me in the rare position of defending the U.S. government. I read that and think, here we go again with the weak, tired and thoroughly lame "unique place" argument.

Next, if there is partisan bickering it is because corrupt Republicans (Tom DeLay) sold out thousands of poor Filipinos and Chinese for a free golf trip and a few nights at the Hyatt, and now someone -- especially Dengre and George Miller -- wants some justice for people like this kid's parents. The nature of partisan bickering is name calling on a nonsense issue -- like John Edwards haircut, not a two tiered economy in which a certain group is left out of any say in the community and paid meager wages.

Finally, if anyone has ignored the "insights, wisdom and aspirations" of local people it is this government. We are setting up a debate in class and one of the topics was the federalization issue, and not one one of my high school seniors out of ninety would argue against federalization. Not one thought the local government should maintain control over the minimum wage because they are smart enough to see what local control over minimum wage has meant. Yet every time the bill is blocked, such as Bush last week, the Tribune and the Chamber trumpet the "good news." Read the minutes of Tina Sablan's public forums. Most everything in there makes perfect sense and would turn this place around, real ordinary folks getting together making sensible suggestions, yet it is ignored.

Good speech overall, but some of this tried to play off both sides of the issue and give me a break on the graph above. Don't get mad Galvin, still love ya.


Galvin said...

I don't think Cyd was playing both sides. He genuinely feels that when two sides make mistakes, they should admit their mistakes. I also noticed that while you seemed to agree with his criticm of local leaders, you took issue with his criticism of national leaders. Is that bias I smell?

But, you're right, we do play up emotion. That was not always the case. We used to push for "the best reasoned speech" but would never win. So, we went back to what Aristotle taught: speeches need pathos (emotion) ethos (credibility), and logos (logic). Our speeches tend to have all three, though we do push pathos pretty hard.

As Maya Angelou put it, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Still luv ya too Jeff.


Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

I don't recall him saying anything about any local leader by name. I have far more hostility btw to U.S. politicians than local ones. I vote there, not here, because they are capable of far more damage.

Anyway, your victory yet again lets me of what it was like to be a Red Sox fan circa September 2004. I'm not foaming at the mouth yet like they were. Maybe if you win again next year.

Be well, buddy.

The Saipan Blogger said...

The witch hunt that many in the CNMI refer to, in other circles would be referred to as the effectivie prosecution of people who broke federal laws...which was hindered for many years by President Bush letting go of certain attorneys who "serve at the pleasure of the President." Money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud are serious crimes. Just ask Abramoff, Delay, and Zachares (and Zachares' wife), all serving and/or facing jail time.

I was off getting an education when this all happened, but if I were one of the people involved in these scandals, I'd be worried.

Yankee Fan said...

Go Yankees!

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Go Red Sox!!!