Toon and text by John Auchter
One of the big downsides to January in Michigan is the annual State of the State address. (Of course, the main upside to January in Michigan is that it isn’t February.) We have not been blessed with governors who are accomplished orators, at least not during the time that I’ve been editorial cartooning.
John Engler was so bad it was actually part of his charm. (That may be the only published instance where you will see “charm” and “John Engler” in the same sentence.) He was an effective behind-the-scenes guy who was clearly uncomfortable speechifying. You could almost see the thought balloon above his head as he talked, “My hands. What do I do with my hands?”
Jennifer Granholm had skills but in the “smart kid hitting all her marks” sense. Technically there, but something much less than inspiring. True, as governor during Michigan’s lost decade, she had some pretty grim material to work with. But then so did Churchill, and he did okay. (Perhaps governors should be required to deliver all future speeches using a British accent.)
Before I dump on Governor Snyder, I should mention my own deficiencies in this area. When I was in high school I purposely took debate and forensics in an effort to become decent at public speaking. Thank goodness this was before ubiquitous recording devices and YouTube because I was bad. Legendarily bad. There were times when I could see in a judge’s eyes her longing for a tranquilizer gun to put me down and end everybody’s misery.
The remarkable thing about Snyder’s address wasn’t the expected not-so-great delivery, it was the content. Both Engler and Granholm pretty much gave up in their last terms, but here Rick Snyder seemed to be announcing “I’m kinda done with this” ahead of time!
Especially the infrastructure thing. I know it’s a tough gig with a Republican legislature actively working against him. (Admittedly, drawing him disappearing into a sinkhole probably isn’t helping, either.) But I think this would have been a good time to rally Michigan citizens with some sort of definitive plan! Oy.
I guess what I’m saying is, out of the two farewell addresses I heard in the last week, I preferred Obama’s.