Kid Saves Speech

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Gavin Newsom is a smart politician and a compelling performer, but he needs work on speeches.

His inaugural was a dud.

The main problem: the speech had little shape. It didn’t have a compelling or surprising point that was carried through. Instead, it moved around from topic to topic.

Newsom needs to stop giving speeches and to start just talking. He does too much oratory, too much soaring rhetoric, too many long sentences. So it’s hard to stay with him. And none of his lines really stick out.

Put simply, Newsom makes speeches sound all too much the same.

Newsom was lucky, in fact, that his 2-year-old, Dutch, the youngest of his four children, ran repeatedly onto the stage, did a few laps around the podium, and was briefly picked up by his father, the new governor. When Dutch came on stage, he provided a distraction from the boring speech. The unpredictable child was much more interesting than the predictable speech.

He also emphasized a crucial point: that Newsom wants to invest more in very young children.

Best of all, Dutch actually made his father sound better. Newsom had to slow down—since he was keeping an eye on the kid—and interact with the room and the audience more. The governor’s best delivery was during the moments he was holding his son.

Maybe the governor should carry a child whenever he speaks. Barring that, he should slow down and talk with us, not at us.

Thank you, Dutch.

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