Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Written by Walter Pierce
Louisiana’s interim lieutenant governor could talk me into anything.
[Note to readers: I have since been informed by about a dozen of you that Angelle's actual quote near the bottom of this column was "when all else fails, incarcerate," not "incorporate." It was loud in the Cajundome and the audience was beginning to register its applause at that line, hence my "misinterpretation." But that doesn't change the point of my column: Scott Angelle is a hell of a public speaker.]
A word of caution to event planners: Don’t hire Scott Angelle as your master of ceremonies when the event centers around people giving speeches. He makes the other speakers sound like stammering, monotone tweens.
I witnessed the interim lieutenant governor’s oratorical skills last week at the Rally for Economic Survival-vival-vival in the Cajundome-dome-dome. He brought his A game.
“Never, never have so many people and so many friends and so many American workers gathered here at this location, at one spot, to support one effort and one goal today. We come here clearly to send a message, not only from the ball field to the cane field, but from Abbeville to Capitol Hill, and from the banks of the historic Vermilion River to the powerful banks of the Potomac River!”
I had seen Angelle interviewed on television before, but last Wednesday was the first time I heard him speak. He’s old school, a throwback to those silver-tongued Louisiana politicians of a bygone era, to the Hueys and Earls whose rhetorical flourishes pantomimed the pulpits of Deep South evangelism — alliterative, figurative, repetitive, every pause building to a pitch-perfect denouement.
“Each and every day in this 18th great state of our union, in our Louisiana, we put on our hard hats and our steel-toe boots, we kiss our families goodbye, and we begin the hard work of exploring, producing, processing, storing, refining and transporting the fuel that energizes the great United States of America. And while we do support the use of renewable and alternative energies, let’s keep the conversation real: America is not yet ready to get all its fuel from the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees!”
That one brought the crowd to its feet. It isn’t nearly as inspiring laying there on a page as it was echoing in the Cajundome. I suspect Scott Angelle could raise an army reading the periodic table.
Granted, it was easy whipping this crowd into a frenzy. It was tilted so far right the Cajundome yawed on its foundation. But where the other speakers, Gov. Bobby Jindal included, grabbed at the low hanging fruit and channelled Reagan with lines like “Mr. President, lift this moratorium!” and “Mr. President, let us work!” — pleasing to the crowd, to be sure — Angelle mostly steered clear of the pablum and gave a lesson in holding 11,000 people in the palm of your hand.
“Mr. President, Mr. President, I’ll forget the fact that you don’t like oil and gas companies. But this moratorium is not hurting the stockholders of BP or Exxon or Chevron. This moratorium is hurting the Cheramies and Callaises and the Dupuises and the Robins and the Boudreauxes and the Thibodeauxes!”
He could have called the audience to the stage to be saved, and I would’ve floated dreamily up for my come-to-Jesus moment.
“You tell the American people, in the oil and gas business, you help to educate, levitate, rehabilitate, and when all else fails, incorporate!”
I’m not sure exactly what that means — “and when all else fails, incorporate” — but when you lay the rhyme on me, I’m putty.
I’m disinclined to discuss my opinion on the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling — journalists are supposed to be neutral, stop laughing — but not a minute after the former St. Martin Parish president got his motor running, I was itching to jump up, slip on penny loafers, do a cartwheel, slap a liberal, punch an Arab, top off a GMC Suburban and yell, “Drill, baby drill!”
Scott Angelle is that good.
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