Giving the commencement address at West Liberty’s graduation
The formal commencement address is a holdover from the 19th century when elocution was important. And while the graduation ceremony still has meaning for those in attendance, the prescribed address ceased to be relevant (with very few exceptions) many years ago.
Having listened to more than my share of commencement addresses, I’ve often speculated why anyone agrees to do this speech. How do you say something impactful and fresh? How do you press on when the audience begins to show signs of boredom three minutes into the speech? (Most famous at West Liberty is then-WV senator, Jennings Randolph, who spoke for a long time outside on a very warm day in the early-1980s. At one point, around an hour into his speech, Randolph paused and the audience, thinking he was finally finished, routinely (and gratefully) began to clap. Unfazed, Randolph picked-up where he left off.)
Why did McKinley agree to do this speech? McKinley’s public speaking style is wooden, at best; his strength as a communicator is in a small group setting. What could he possibly say to the graduates and their friends and relatives that would be remembered? (I may be giving him too much credit; he probably accepted because most of his audience were constituents and he knew that the local TV stations and the local Ogden papers would prominently feature his speech. They obliged.)
I could not find the actual speech. Here are the McKinley highlights from Intelligencer reporter Jocelyn King's coverage of the speech (emphasis is mine):
The faculty at West Liberty has provided you with the tools and an education to make a difference . . . That said, you may still face the challenges and set backs of life. There are no guarantees.
If America is to continue as a world power, each of us must be prepared to bear that mantle of leadership.
We have to have confidence to take a risk, and push the envelope to see how much better this country can be.
All of us must find the confidence and courage to release our song, and to sing about it and celebrate it.
Now go out and do something. Make something happen.
Memorable? (The last two don’t even sound like McKinley.) And these are just the highlights.
McKinley once again uses Wheeling TV station WTRF for extended PR
The congressman’s first stop when he’s back in Wheeling must be at our local television station, WTRF. Here he gets to say whatever he wants knowing there will be no tough questions or even a “what about this” from his interviewer. It’s always a couple of good minutes of free air time and the segments may even run multiple times. He’s had two (that I count) on his most recent return from Washington – one on the Paris climate agreement and another on Congress’ attempt to deal with the opioid problem. On both, he spouted his talking points without any probing questions. On opiods, for instance, he tells us that he's disappointed because the current Congress is playing partisan politics. The obvious question for McKinley was why anything wasn’t done about opioids in 2017-18 when Republicans controlled all three branches of government? As in the past, however, there are no real questions – it’s just McKinley being given minutes and minutes of free air time.
McKinley running for governor?
I thought that we might see something about this in our local papers. Here is the headline from Saturday’s WV Metro News:
McKinley won’t run for governor as long as Justice is in race
First District Congressman David McKinley says he’s been thinking about running for governor but will stay out of the race as long as Gov. Jim Justice continues toward his re-election bid.
“I’ve spoken with Jim Justice extensively about this,” McKinley said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” on Friday. “If it’s an open seat we’re going to look at it seriously but it’s not an open seat right now.”
It’s interesting that we’ve read nothing about this from Ogden’s political reporter, Steven Allen Adams. Justice certainly looks to be running but it would be fun to see a McKinley/Manchin matchup.