Archive for August, 2008

MSNBC gave Pat Buchanan two minutes to react to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. Having just watched all 45 minutes of Obama — including three minutes of cheers and thank yous at the beginning — I agree with Pat Buchanan.

I’d bet that viewers and the audience genuinely wished that MSNBC would have shown some savvy and let Buchanan ramble as long as he wanted — I was a thousand times more interested in what this right-wing firebrand had to say than whatever the rest of the panel could have mustered up.

Transcript follows.

It was a genuinely outstanding speech. It was magnificent. It is the finest … I saw Cuomo’s speech. I saw Kennedy in ’80. I even saw Douglas MacArthur. I even saw Martin Luther King. This is the greatest convention speech. Probably the most important because unlike Cuomo and the others, this is an acceptance speech. This came out of the heart of American and he went right at the heart of America. This wasn’t a liberal speech at all. This is a deeply, deeply centrist speech.

It had wit, it had humor, and when he used the needle on McCain, he stuck it into McCain, and it was funny as with Kennedy’s speech in ’80. I laughed with Kennedy when he was needling Ronald Reagan. That was so good.

Let me read you the passage, though, because this man is a professional orator and he’s a writer of his own speeches. But let me read it because here’s where you get into the roll and the cadence and how a speaker can really pound a point home. He says:

“I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and they have died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America — they have served the United States of America.”

That is how you bring people off their feet, by pulling at their heart and spleen and guts. It was beautiful.

He didn’t get much longer before the panel cut him off.

I’d like to think that Buchanan meant it, rather than just chose his words so as to do as much damage to McCain as possible. Tell me that taking Buchanan’s words at face value isn’t self-deception.

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Not too long ago, a fellow newbie coworker took her lunch break on-site at a school. After swallowing down a bit too much Diet Pepsi, she chose to belch. I gave it a five-point-five.

Our supervisor, shaking a single pointer finger, said in her stern supervisor voice:

No. That is not professional.

What a broad word, with so many implications. What a ubiquitous word, used to describe the je ne sais quoi that is professionalism. I decided to define it.

Polite subservience could be part of the equation, if you want — belching is not professional — but so often it isn’t, even in the service industry. Rude, haughty egotists are considered professionals so often that both politeness and subservience are the exception rather than the rule. In the civil service, it’s gotten so bad that a well-run Social Security office is something to write home about.

Professionals must first be confident. In sports and music, in businesses both private and public, in the related fields of politics and theater, the professional is the guy who blindsides you with just enough force of personality, just enough facts and figures, just enough flair for the dramatic that you can’t help but be stunned.

You will buy those tickets, you will invest your time and energy, you will believe in his world of make-believe. He catches you with his bag of tricks, the marvel being that he uses each these tricks with surgical precision.

Professionals, under no circumstances, are passionate about their job. Professionals may be interested in their job, or may even like it, but passion is right out; they can’t afford an addiction to the ego-inflating high of success, as it would mean catastrophe in the event of failure. If he falls short of the sales quota, or accidentally rips out the carburetor, or misfiles a TPS report, the professional doesn’t beat himself up. He accepts the incident for what it is, fixes it and moves on. He makes sure that it never happens again, repeating the process ever more carefully if it does.

Putting the two together, we find our definition:

Professionalism is emotionally detached confidence.

Professionals wouldn’t have it any other way. Even the soul-sucking nature of bureaucracy couldn’t change this — those professionals are inevitably they who know exactly what they’re doing, and who will roll with every punch.

If you approach this definition of professionalism, you’re professional. If you are this definition of professionalism, you lie. Maintaining professionalism is pretty tough.

It’s funny how much the stupid little things matter.

For four straight days, work sucked. I was worried, tired and at least a little stressed. Am I just new, or am I genuinely developing a reputation as a bit of a screwup? Maybe I should go back to substitute teaching — I know how to do that. I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this job, or that I enjoyed it.

That was before I found a $5 Jamba Juice gift card in my box. All wounds healed, by a stupid little gift card. How laughably easily I’m motivated will be something I’ll think about later, while I gulp down my power-sized Razzmatazz and its equally complimentary femme boost.

Immunity boost, I mean. Immunity boost.