by Roger Pynn
Ever wonder how people survive in Washington? Do you sometimes think that people have to be crazy to run for Congress what with all the anger and microscopic media coverage that go with the territory?
Former U.S. Rep. Lou Frey, who ably represented Central Florida in Congress for a decade beginning in 1969, has – along with UCF Political Science Professor Aubrey Jewett – compiled a fascinating book titled “Political Rules of the Road” which contains responses Frey got from asking nearly two hundred former members of the nation’s lawmaking branch to share their rules for success in Congress, politics and life.
Founder of the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida and this year was the recipient of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress Distinguished Service award for his passionate efforts to advance civics education. Frey’s own two rules make sense in or out of politics:
1) If you have to explain you are in trouble; and,
2) Don’t get in a fight with someone who buys his ink by the carload.
While many sent rules you would expect, there are some gems in this tome.
In a chapter on Media, Ethics, Speeches and Public Relations, the first President Bush reminded “there is no such thing as ‘off the record,’” something we teach in our Message Matrix® program. Former Congressman Rod Chandler of Oregon suggested “the truth always makes a good story.” Many of today’s politicians would like to know the reporters Chandler knew.
But the gem in this chapter came from a former representative from Minnesota William Frenzel who first advised Congressmen to “never miss any good opportunities to sit down,” which may relate directly to this:
“One hour speeches can be made off-the-cuff; 30 minutes speeches require at least an hour of preparation; speeches of 5 minutes or less require at least a day’s work including several trial deliveries.”
So true, Congressman: It is a determined communicator who captures his thoughts in as few words as possible so as to have time to listen to his audience’s questions.