Faithlife
Faithlife

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            There is a myth, nurtured by politicians and reinforced by civics textbooks, that legislatures are orderly, dignified places where reason and civilized debate hold sway.  ‘Tain’t so.  As every capitol observer knows, things can get pretty flaky down at the statehouse.

            Take Michigan.  Proof of fallen rhetoric in that state’s senate and house can be found in the house pressroom, where reporters have compiled a list that covers most of one wall.  To qualify for the honor roll, words must have been spoken in a public forum and heard by at least two reporters.  Here are samples from Michigan’s finest legislative minds:

  • “Before I give you the benefit of my remarks, I’d like to know what we’re talking about.”
  • “Now we’ve got them right where they want us.”
  • “There comes a time to put principle aside and do what’s right.”
  • “This bill goes to the very heart of the moral fiber of human anatomy.”
  • “Some of our friends wanted it in the bill and some of our friends wanted it out, and Jerry and I are going to stick with our friends.”
  • “I’m not only for capital punishment but I’m also for the pre­servation of human life.”
  • “I’m watching everything you do with a fine-toothed comb.”
  • “The chair would wish the members would refrain from talking about the intellectual levels of other members.  That always leads to problems.”
  • “Let’s violate the law one more year.”
  • “Mr. Speaker, what bill did we just pass?”

Reader’s Digest, July, 1983, page 117

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