Speechwriting Advice for Governor Kasich

Our governor Taxin' John Kasich's third state of the state address is looming. Many political observers are rubbing their hands in glee, anticipating the hilarious melange of non sequiturs, random shout-outs, head-scratching references, and rambling word salad. They're wondering how he can top referring to Californians as "wackadoodles" and imitating a Parkinson's patient, or boldly declaring that he would not "wear that silly hat that Voinovich wore," a truly pressing concern for most Ohioans.

David Niven, a former speechwriter for Governor Strickland and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman who now teaches political science at the University of Cincinnati, is now trying to spoil our fun.

Here he offers his "Helpful Hints for a Speechwriting Governor" (because Kasich writes — or improvises — these stream-of-consciousness effusions himself).


He suggests cutting back on the wordiness and the excessive references to people like Rachel Ray, Jerry Seinfeld and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who have nothing to do with Ohio politics.

He offers advice like

Now, as you well know, every speech of this sort requires an acknowledgment of the speaker’s spouse. To your credit, you follow this rule. But it might be good for you to have the governor speak of Mrs. Kasich as, you know, a person, rather than a prize-winning trout. In 2011, you had him say of his spouse, “I know you all wonder how I caught her. I wonder about it sometimes also.” This year, try saying something respectful or loving.

Kasich apparently thought he was onto something here. In his widely mocked 2012 speech, the one where he imitated the Parkinson's patient, he said,

And I also want to give a nice comment about my wife, Karen Kasich. Sweetie, stand, take a little wave, would you, okay? I remember that cartoon that said, 'Kasich will still not reveal how he snagged that hot wife.'

If you're saying "What cartoon? What's the context?" you haven't entered the slipstream of Kasichspeak. As with Voinovich's "silly hat," he didn't provide any context or clues as to what he was talking about.

Now, if Kasich actually took Niven's advice and delivered a sober, coherent speech on February 19, we'd all be disappointed and bored to tears. Luckily, he takes advice from nobody. So when he makes his speech in Lima — like last year when it was in Steubenville, he's made it a roadshow — expect to be howling with laughter and groaning in dismay when you realize the whole world is laughing at OUR governor.

See you next year in Cleveland, Gov? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Fat chance.

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