Here's the speech Paul Tsongas should have given


March 24, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

Paul Tsongas is being praised for making so gracious a withdrawal speech. But he'll get no praise from me. I'm tired of hearing politicians stand up and pretend to be good losers when they must surely be filled with bile. And I wish they would spit it out.

Since he wouldn't do it, I'll -- off a speech for him:

"I am withdrawing. It is clear that I cannot win the nomination, even though it should be obvious to anyone with more than an ounce of brains that I was the best candidate. Unfortunately, those with less than an ounce of brains are in the majority.

"My campaign failed because, frankly, it was too practical, honest, made too much sense and didn't pander to enough voters.

"You noticed that I didn't promise to cut your taxes. Of course I didn't. That would be stupid. If I cut taxes, we'd go deeper in debt. Then I'd have to raise taxes to help cover the juice we're paying on all that debt. Did you appreciate my candor? No, you'd rather have someone tell you that he is going to make it possible for you to buy three more Happy Meals at McDonald's and to hell with the future.

"I said I wanted to raise the price of gasoline and use that money to improve the environment and make us less dependent on foreign fossil fuel.

"But you would think I was talking about eating your children. The fact is, gasoline costs less today, in real dollars, than it did 30 or 40 years ago. And when you factor in the better mileage than you used to get in the old gas hogs, you've already got a terrific deal.

"Do you know what they pay for a gallon of gas in Canada, in Europe, in Japan, just about anywhere else in the developed world? But you don't hear them whining.

"They said I was pro-business, and I am. But some people made that sound like I believe in child labor or making workers buy spoiled food at the company store.

"I know that it is difficult for some of the unreconstructed lefties in our party to understand that this is not the 1960s and that all businesses and all business people are not evil.

"It works this way. The first obligation a business has is to make a profit. That way, the business stays in business. If the business doesn't make money, eventually it goes out of business. Then instead of a building in which people have jobs that allow them to support their families and pay taxes so they can have schools and cops and firemen and parks, there is an empty building with bums living in it.

"When that happens, the lefties say that society has failed the bums and we must do something for them, so they raise taxes and create programs to make life better for bums. Then the government hires more bureaucrats who really don't do anything to help the bums, except make studies and issue reports that conclude that we must have more programs, so they can have more studies and issue reports.

"All of which could be avoided if we had done something to keep the business competitive in the first place.

"But if I mention that I want to help business expand and compete in the global economy, a lot of you think I am a tool of Wall Street. OK, have it your way. And when the bums move into the empty businesses in your neighborhood, call my opponent.

"Another reason I lost is that I'm not a pretty boy and I talk funny. So what? Have any of you looked in the mirror lately? Or have you tried to debate anything besides how much money a baseball player should make? So where does a country full of people who can't utter one sentence without mumbling 'uh, yah know?' or 'OK?' every second word get off calling me Elmer Fudd? But I shouldn't be surprised. You elected a movie actor who couldn't say 'Good morning' without a TelePrompTer.

"So I want to thank all of those people who voted for me and contributed to my campaign. While you have not experienced the thrill of victory, you have the satisfaction of knowing you're not dimwits, either.

"As for those who prefer some glib, position-hopping, pretty-boy back-slapper, you have a good chance of getting what you deserve.

"The trouble is, the rest of us will get it, too.

"Now I am going to return to private life, make as much money as I can, and if someone mentions public service to me, I'll tell them to try the self-serve pump at the gas station."

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