Column: Get out where the folks are real and the coffee is blackEditor’s note: Irma Schwantes of Fulda sent the following undated column from Mary Beth Blegen — then “Essentials columnist” at this newspaper — to be republished. We think this particular column remains timely today.
By: Mary Beth Blegen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — An open letter to Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, President Bill Clinton and anyone who really cares about his budget deal:
Sorry about the familiar greeting. But I believe that you guys need a little of the down home familiar Midwestern approach. I have a proposal that you will not be able to turn down. An offer which you can’t refuse.
Since the negotiations to get the government going again have not been going well and since we are facing another shutdown on Jan. 26, let’s seize the moment and take some steps. You are all adults. You can get this solved. You just need our help.
Here’s the plan. Check the reservations for Sioux Falls, S.D. You need to get out of the Washington environment and get here where folks are real and the coffee is black. We will meet you at the airport with no media, no limousines and hardly any red carpet. In other words, out here guys, you won’t be that important. We would probably be just as impressed by the arrival of a good country-western singing group. Maybe more. Egos don’t count out here. You can relax, put on the overalls, if you wish, and relax.
We will be there in Ford trucks, Chrysler Mini-vans and an occasional Pontiac. Dress down, guys, because we here on the prairie don’t get into the suit thing. So, dig out the jeans and the sweatshirts. We’ll provide the seed corn caps and mittens, if necessary. I suppose you’ll have an entourage to help with the gritty budget work, but make sure they know who we are. You guys talk a lot about the American people, but I’m not sure you know who we are. You simply must come.
Now, once in Worthington we’ll show you the sights. The lake is good. We love it in both winter and summer. You might even want to try your hand at ice fishing. Sitting on a cold box in a cold ice house just might get you thinking about solving this dilemma. No one would watch. No one would even care. Ice fisherpeople just do their thing. We would show you our businesses and our schools. I would like it if you would stop in and teach for a while. I think perhaps Newt, in particular, could benefit from standing in front of a few juniors and seniors in high school.
Maybe education would look a little different to the powerful after one of those kids asked a very direct question, which they are good at doing. I’m sure some of the small business owners would bend your ear a bit. And, of course, we would have to find you a good turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls.
By the time the teaching, the tour and the turkey were finished, we would take you to an undisclosed room where you could hash it out. We would bring in cookies, rolls and ice water along with the good strong coffee. We wouldn’t allow press conferences because you guys have a tendency to get caught up in that press stuff. You need a vacation. You need to look at each other and talk without harping through the media.
No banquets or podiums. No microphones or tape recorders. No East Coast press people waiting to harass.
Just us. We want to watch you work. We, pretty good examples of the American people you speak of frequently, just want to have a chance to see if you mean what you say or if you are just playing a political game. You see, guys, we are really into straight talk. We’re pretty shrewd. We survive Minnesota mosquitoes and Minnesota Februaries. We know when someone is trying to play with us. We know when someone is trying to use us for something they want.
So, we think, this is the place to settle it. This is the place to sign the agreement, eat the hotdish and sit across the table from a farmer and talk about the land. We think this is the place for you to take a “reality check.”
We know you can’t do it. You need the press and the suits and all that accompanies your role.
But we badly need to know that you mean what you say. We are a little tired of the meaningless rhetoric and continuing barbs. Sometimes a good seed corn cap helps to clear away the junk and get down to what counts.
OK, so you can’t come. I’ll send the hats.
Maybe that will be good enough to get you going.
From the American People right here in southwestern Minnesota.