I was very inspired by an interview I heard on a news program today, if by inspired you mean completely disgusted and more cynical then I’ve ever been. It lasted at least two minutes and there was a back-and-forth exchange for the duration, but somehow the interviewee, we’ll call him Senator Slick, managed to say nothing at all. The whole thing was like a giant cheese puff—a little salty but mostly air.
I get it. Politicians are people too—at least most of them are. They want to be liked just like the rest of us do. And they have to be liked if they want to keep their jobs. It requires exceptional courage to take a stand when not everyone agrees with you. On the other hand, speaking a full two minutes without saying anything doesn’t take courage at all. I know; I do it all the time.
Below is a reenactment of the interview, but it’s not word for word because I was doing dishes and screaming at the radio while I was listening to it. Also I’ve changed the topic to school lunch which is slightly less divisive than what the actual subject was. I’m not very courageous either.
I’ve included my topnotch analysis of the techniques Senator Slick used as he answered each question, though I’m using the term “answered” loosely—in the same way I’d use the word “exercise” to describe how I sit on the couch looking at the treadmill.
Interviewer: What are your ideas for improving school lunch?
Slick: Lunch is vital, which is why I’ve always stood for lunch. Actually I sit for lunch and when I was in school, I also sat for lunch. It’s wonderful that today’s children also sit when they eat lunch. I know how hard it is for the little buggers to be still for any length of time. (Technique: Say something that sounds vaguely related, but don’t answer the question.)
Interviewer: But, what particular actions would you support?
Slick: Well, naturally I’d support anything that would make school lunch better. That’s the kind of guy I am. What I won’t support is anything that just makes us feel better about school lunch. (Technique: Sound committed without committing, and do not answer the question.)
Interviewer: But what in particular would you support? There’s been some talk of adding more selection and middle schoolers have been calling for dessert at every meal.
Slick: I haven’t seen the menu—I mean the legislation. I will say the other side is pandering to their base, throwing out ideas they know would never pass the school board. In reality, they’re to blame for 99.7 percent of all school lunch that goes into the trash. (Technique: Blame the other side, make up a statistic on the spot, and whatever you do, do not answer the question.)
Interviewer: But what would you support?
Slick: How about those Yankees? (Technique: Answer the question with another question in order to keep from answering the question.
Interviewer: But sir, what would you support.
Slick: I think I’ve already answered that. (Technique: Pretend you’ve answered the question, but don’t answer the question.)
Interviewer: Uh…okay. Moving on, how can school lunches balance nutrition with flavor?
Slick: That’s a very good question. And balance is important, which is why I practice yoga. (Technique: Acknowledge the question, but never, ever under any circumstances answer it.)
Interviewer: You once said green beans are gross and should be banned not only from school lunches but from restaurants and grocery stores. Do you think that was an appropriate response to the school lunch issue?
Slick: That’s a dumb question and you’re dumb for asking it. (Technique: Attack the interviewer. Smack him if you have to. Do whatever it takes to avoid answering the question.)
Interviewer: Uh…well, we’re out of time. Thanks for joining me…I guess.
Slick: My pleasure. I’m always happy to update the public. (Technique: Lie.)
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact [email protected])