Friday, January 14, 2022

“Whatever it is that I have said here today”

In one of my favorite movies (Back to School), Dean Martin, dean of the fictional Thornton Melon School of Business, gives a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the school’s future, state-of-the-art building.  He said:

The business of America is business.  And the business of an educational institution such as ours is to create young minds that understand that the business of America is the kind of business that it actually is.

Perhaps acknowledging the nonsensical nature of what he’s spewing, Dean Martin concludes: “Whatever it is that I have said here today . . .”  The Dean’s circle speak then provokes a humorous, headshaking response from Thornton Melon.

I couldn’t help but think that reality is funnier than fiction when I recently saw Vice President Kamala Harris’s interview on NBC.  The friendly interviewer asked if the Biden administration’s response to the Wuhan Virus has been effective, or “is it time to change strategy?”

Now, there are three possible responses to this question:

  1. I can’t answer that; while I’m responsible for many things, there are other fine people assigned to work on the administration’s public health policies; OR
  2. Our response has been effective, and here’s why: [discuss one or two favorable statistics regarding any aspect of the virus or the new variant]; OR
  3. As new data comes to light, we follow the science and we have changed strategies in many respects: [discuss one or two new policy changes since the Omicron variant descended upon us].

That’s not a tough framework to devise or to follow for a lawyer / former prosecutor / vice president.  Nor is it tough to fill in the blanks.  But instead, Harris gave us some memorable but empty spin that rivals Dean Martin’s circle speak.  Her irritated response (here) went as follows:

It is time for us to do what we have been doing and that time is every day.  Every day it is time for us to agree that there are things and tools that are available to us to slow this thing down.

Okay then.  Well, that’s quite head-scratching.  VP Harris should have transitioned with: “Whatever it is that I have said here today . . .” 

The interviewer also brought up the possibility of Joe Biden replacing Harris on the ticket in 2024.  Harris wouldn’t discuss that, but if it happens, she could always apply for the deanship at the Thornton Melon School of Business: “It is time for us to agree, which we have been doing every day, that every day the business of America is the business that it actually is.”

Can’t argue with that!  I think she could make a nice transition from politics to the academic bureaucracy.

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