En Words

A place to talk about words - whether from books, stories, magazines, brochures, or matchbook covers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tommy Thompson and Power of Words

Words are peculiar. You can't touch them though you can see and hear them. And sometimes you can taste them. The taste of the words uttered by Tommy Thompson - former governor of Wisconsin and former Secretary of Health and Human Services - were sour and nasty. Not just the statement he made in front of a D.C. Jewish group, saying, "I'm in the private sector and, for the first time in my life, I'm earning money. You know, that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong with that. I enjoy that." There was the moment he again walked up to the podium and allegedly said the following:
"I just want to clarify something because I didn't in any means want to infer or
imply anything about Jews and finances and things. What I was referring to,
ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion and the
Jewish people. You have been outstanding businesspeople and I compliment you for
that and if anybody took what I said wrong, I apologize. I may have
mischaracterized it. You are very successful. I applaud you for that."
Not only did he use an offensive racial stereotype, but then he followed it with something that makes you wonder whether he actually managed to stuff three feet into his mouth instead of the regulation two. What comes next: "Some of my best friends are Jews?" Oh, wait, apparently he has already.

And there's yet another aspect as noted in this editorial from a Gannett paper. He made $115,000 a year as governor and $180,000 annually as HSS Secretary, and neither of those salaries was money? Does he mean that people who make those trifling amounts don't really earn a living? Are the only people worth talking to in the real world those who make, oh, $500,000 a year and up? Will the rest of us be asked to stand quietly at the back of the room - or the line or the bus - while the "real" people get taken care of?

What astounds me is that some conservatives are still taking him seriously as a candidate. George Will calls him "the Republican presidential candidate with perhaps the most impressive resume." Yet he's even managed to make George W. Bush seem like an intelligent public speaker. Now there's a frightening thought.

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