Of WSUV and listening

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio
photoBrett Oppegaard works in his WSUV office.

Drop the ‘V’

So, I’m hangin’ on the Washington State University Vancouver campus (gorgeous place) to meet with a former Columbian reporter, Brett Oppegaard.

Fair to say … he’s done good!

He’s been hired as a tenure-track assistant professor to build a new media communication minor on the campus.

Brett is a bit of a rare breed when it comes to this college teaching stuff. The guy actually has practical experience. He was quite a good reporter here in his day. Most folks in education get their high school and college done, then go right to teaching high school and college.

Real-world, practical applications are so important as we try to figure out how to best prepare our kids for … the real world.

Personally, I feel WSUV is a jewel. And if WSU is smart, they’d take the “V” off of our joint and make it the main campus.

WSUP makes more sense for our friends in Pullman.

Are you listening?

It’s genius, I tell ya. Pure genius.

You know, those “listening sessions” all the politicians are doing nowadays.

Sen. Maria Cantwell does it. Sen. Patty Murray does it. And now, our very own U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is on it.

photoU.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is all ears!

Big time.

Why, the person who invented these listening sessions should be given some sort of medal.

No, really.

If there isn’t some behind-the-scenes back slapping in some smoke-filled room in the basement of some overpriced fancy government building, there should be.

Remember the old days? When politicians had to get in front of a big crowd of real people who would ask them real questions?

Sure, when politicians did that big-group thing, they still never said all that much. They probably took some secret two-week course in double-speak before their front men would throw them into a real crowd. But at least they were out there, dancing away.

Today, there’s less of a need to learn how to dance. Because today, politicians ain’t talkin’ much. They’re just … listening.

Genius, I tell ya!

I mean, how could anyone say anything bad about listening, right?

“My mama taught me years ago that you can’t learn nothin’ when your mouth is open.”

Hey, listening is a good thing. A very good thing. But we also shouldn’t wear out those politician ears.

It might be nice to hear what they have to say.

You see, in the end, leaders have to lead. Strange concept, but true.

So, if the politicians are still listening, here’s a suggestion: Dump your handlers. Enough of the small coffee groups and telephone town hall meetings. Enough of all the listening sessions. Throw yourself into a rowdy, big crowd. Get a little dirty. And let’s hear what you have to say.

Are you … listening?

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.