Press Talk: Leavitt strikes the pose

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 

When Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt walks into a room, you know he's there. He's a handsome young chap with an easy smile and a structure fit from hours in the gym.

The clothing he wears is fitting for a single man who dresses to impress.

But something was a little off when I saw him last Saturday at Share's Casino Royale fundraiser.

So I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him what was up with his gaudy garb.

I'm not one to talk, of course, because this was — indeed — a fancy affair, and I was — indeed — wearing jeans. (My clean pair!) But he is the mayor, and he is running for re-election, after all.

The mayor's answer made sense. He had taken his best shot at dressing like a gambler. (This guy clearly needs to get to Vegas soon.)

Fair enough, I thought, but to me, it looked more like he was dressed for disco night. In fact, he looked eerily similar to one of my paisans, John Travolta, back in his "Saturday Night Fever" days.

So with "Staying Alive" now beating in my head, I had to ask the mayor.

Would he strike the pose?

Come on now! Everyone knows the pose, right? That disco pose Travolta made famous?

And here's is one of the things I like about the mayor. He's a good sport. He did it.

OK, it wasn't spot on. But, hey, he gave it a shot.

There will be those who tell him this is not the kind of thing a guy running for re-election should be doing.

Hogwash.

Make no mistake, if the right person runs, Leavitt will be in a dogfight. But his willingness to be human will only help him. Trust me!

• • •

Speaking of human, the mayor is a few days away from delivering the State of the City address. And since I owe him (he did strike the pose after all) — here's a little free advice:

You ain't got the speech gene.

And remember, I'm a speech minor from a state school! Trust me!

The solution? A little more of Richard Simmons and a little less of Ferris Bueller's economics teacher. In other words, loosen your tie and relax.

The best way to do this is to throw away the written version of your speech. Give yourself a few talking points and wing it. Don't talk at residents, have a conversation with them.

Now, I don't expect you to follow my good advice (Why should you start now?), so here's Plan B. Free of charge, I'm going to tell you the greatest speech I have ever heard in my life. You can borrow it.

I was still a kid and found myself in the middle of a huge protest at the University of Illinois. Hundreds of students had just been illegally detained. Thousands had gathered to object. Several speakers had cranked up the crowd. But it was this last guy who set everyone on fire.

He calmly walked onto a platform and surveyed his flock. He put his hands up. The crowd went silent. Then he spoke:

"We've got to get our #$%^ together. Because if we don't get our #$%^ together... (dramatic pause) ... We ain't #$%^!!!!!"

The throng was his.

This could be you, Mr. Mayor. Trust me!

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, lou.brancaccio@columbian.com or Twitter: http://twitter.com/lounews.