Some political videos for the Ides of March
If the government introduced a tax on the university for every time MarComm sent out a “correction” or “clarification,” they pay of the current cash debt ($28 billion) and have enough left over for Andrew Furey to take his Dad to Risley’s fishing camp again.
But that’s for another day. Today is the Ides of March, made famous by Williams Shakespeare’s play about the unfunny thing that happened to Julius Caesar on the way to the forum. And made funny by Wayne and Shuster.
Today is also a lighter day than we’ve had in a while, so let’s try some old videos.
Subscribers will have to forgive me for the past couple of bits of missed subscriber-only material. Friday was too important to let pass by and today there are some videos everyone should enjoy. Three actually, among an archive of videos about Newfoundland and Labrador all over YouTube.
The first one is one of a string of extracts from the 1989 celebration of Confederation inner held in Carbonear. Joe Smallwood was the guest of honour although there are others from the Confederate team like Greg Power in the room.
This is the Clyde Wells bit. Given the timing of the anniversary, this would have been just before the election call.
This speech - indeed the whole program - is a reminder of what good public speakers sound like. This is classic Clyde Wells. No detailed notes. Maybe a few words - literally two words for one speech - printed in big block letters so he could see them without his reading glasses. A formal opening, acknowledging all the dignitaries and others present, in order of precedence. Then into a joke with two punch lines. The first one is funny enough. The second one takes the piss out of himself. He gives credit to the one who hit whim with the zinger: Peter Fenwick. Peter turns up in one of the other videos from his days as Dipper Supremo. That was before the Dippers disowned him.
Well is relaxed. He’s comfortable. He gestures with his hands and always looks at the audience. Nothing is rushed. He pronounces clearly and his voice is strong so everyone can hear him across the room. There’s a purpose to the speech but he does not approach it as a burden.
Note that only a few days before he’d been on the west coast speaking to another gathering. Wells did a lot of public speaking before that election and every year afterwards until he quit. Not a burden. A duty. And with a responsibility to the audience. That feeling comes across. It doesn’t take great skill to do it. You just have to wanna.
There’s a story. It’s personal, which helps people connect and understand. But it’s also typical of his generation. You want to deliver good speeches? Watch Wells. Watch the series of short excerpts. There are other good speakers, including Cam Eaton.
The other two videos are fascinating for other reasons. These feature campaign commercials and feature interviews. The earliest bits are from 1979 and the Pea Sea leadership convention that Brian Peckford won. Peckford is comfortable and familiar with both Jim Furlong and Randy Simms in an episode of Issues and Answers. They talk in plain English and Peckford deals substantively with each question. No pat answers. No talking points. Just three guys having a chat. You just cannot get this sort of thing any more out of any politician, not around here anyway.
The 1996 campaign commercials are cringy, for the most part. And not just because of the poor video quality. They are just amateurish or very low budget commercials. Like stuff in the other video from the 1985 campaign. Very low rent stuff.
Right at the end of the third video, you’ll see Liberal leader Leo Barry. One of the smartest people ever to sit in the House of Assembly, which is saying something considering the crowd he sat with through the 1970s and into the 1980s. Aiming way above the audience in some respects. Almost quaint in light of the superficial nonsense politicians pass off these days as serious comments.
Take some time with these, not for nostalgia, but for the contrast - goods and bad - with more recent politics.
Most of all enjoy them.
THIS is a remarkable interview with Peckford by Doug May.
Remarkable not for the time but in contrast with *any* interview any Premier or cabinet minister would give in the past 20 years.
Bond Papers subscribers see more than most. Become one.